Kimaya Crolla-Younger

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How to be with Overwhelm

Posted by Kimaya Crolla-Younger on December 5, 2017 at 7:50 AM



Nervous system activated; heart racing, breath fast, constricted. Feel like you want to run. Thoughts racing, disaster movie type thoughts, or murderous rage type thoughts; of wanting to kill, or get revenge “I can’t take it anymore, this is too much,” “this shouldn’t be happening to me, something is wrong” “I am no good”, “I am so angry with you, I want to punch you”, “I feel so scared, I must get out of here”


Whatever the trigger for the overwhelm, a trauma response, facing suppressed emotions, contact with a loved one or boss, an unexpected challenging situation. it can feel as if the feelings come out of no-where, suddenly appearing, particularly if the feelings coming up are unfamiliar for you, such as anger, grief, shame or humiliation. Even panic. It can be all too tempting to resort to the old strategies to push them back down again.


Try and not suppress if at all possible. You’ve likely come so far. Just do the best you can.


Below are some tips on how to manage overwhelm, in a way that makes you feel more connected with yourself.

 

  • What is overwhelming you needs containment. That containment will look different dependent on the emotion, and the circumstances you are in. For example, you could be at work. Or out and about. Or at home.

 

If a trauma pattern in your nervous system is activated and you don’t have a container for your feelings, trying to sit still can feel very frightening, because that’s where the trauma sits (inside of you).


Try some or all of these, dependent on your situation or location.

 

  • Lying down on your back. With one hand on your heart, one hand on your belly. This is a very good habit to get into generally, especially when you’re in bed. Focus on your breathing, and the rise and fall of the breath.


  • Or hand either side of the face, focus on touching with tenderness.


  • Stretching the spine in child’s yoga pose.


  • Lying on the belly.


  • Kundalini shaking – great for anger, fear, anxiety


  • Be in contact with a body that is relaxed; this may help to regulate your nervous system. Either human or animal.


  • Silent scream. Especially if you are at work, or feel self-conscious to make a noise. If you are at work, you can do this in the bathroom. This exercise comes from the work of Leslie Temple-Thurston. Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream depicts the feeling we are after. When you are feeling anger, sit quietly and begin to contract your whole body. Start at the base of your body – legs and thighs. Contract them. Take the contraction up into your belly, torso, arms, hands, neck, face and skull. As you take the contraction up, imagine that you are pushing the anger through your body and out the crown of your head. Hold your breath and the contraction for as long as possible. Do the entire contraction in one breath. Then breathe out. Repeat at least two times.


  • The doggy pant. Walk around on all fours and pant like a dog – fast, shallow breathing. This may be funny to think about, but the breathing and the position can help to evoke the emotions that are triggering the overwhelm. When they come, just allow them to flow through you. Not one for the office!


  • Coming into the present moment. Holding a mug of tea and focusing on the sensations, the temperature, in your hands. Closing your eyes may help. A good one for the office.


  • Anger is the emotion that needs the biggest containment, especially if you are out, maybe in a crowd. Get yourself home if you can, or in a small contained space.


  • Breathe deeply if you can. If your nervous system is activated, you won’t be able to breath deeply, what you need to do in this situation is to process the activation with the doggy pant breath above (you can just use the breath, no need to walk on all fours). Find some spaciousness in yourself; space, stillness and breath can be a container for what feels overwhelming. And I understand that this may not be easy, nor possible right now.


  • Writing it out and throwing it away. Again, I used this when I was in an office, sat at my desk, and not wanting to suppress, channelling it all into the nib of my pen, writing it out on post-it notes, then throwing them away in the bin. Once I left one accidentally on the back of my diary and a colleague noticed this. I think I managed to talk my way out of it somehow :).

 

 

  • The tendency with overwhelm, in fact feelings generally, is to try and throw them off as quickly as possible, often onto other people. If we can bring them inside ourselves, we can provide the containment it needs. I appreciate that this might not be possible for you.


  • EFT Tapping – use the words below. Or tapping a round will help even without words. Again, you can go in the bathroom if you don’t want to be seen. Tap each point, on both sides of the body, with the tips, the pads of your fingers.

• Begin with three calming breathes.

• Starting with the Karate Chop point, tapping with all the fingers from your opposite hand.

• KC: Repeat aloud, Even though I feel overwhelmed and stressed, I accept myself and how I feel.

• KC: even though I feel overwhelmed and stressed, I accept myself and how I feel.

• KC: even though I feel overwhelmed and stressed, I accept myself and how I feel.

• EP(Eyebrow Point): Just thinking about the feelings I’m noticing, makes me feel overwhelmed.

• SE(Side of the Eye): it feels out of control

• UE(Under the Eye):I want the feelings to stop

• UN(Under the Nose): I don’t know how to stop the overwhelm

• Chin: it feels so intense in my body

• CB(Collar Bone): It doesn’t feel safe to relax

• UA(Under the Arms): there is so much going on

• TH(Top of Head): it feels too much

• EP: I struggle to feel centred

• SE: it’s hard to feel calm when these feelings are present

• UE: it’s hard to feel calm when I don’t feel in control of these feelings

• UN: I can’t feel calm until this overwhelm stops

• Chin: this overwhelm makes me feel that something is wrong.

• CB: all the stress

• UA: all these triggers

• TH: I get so overwhelmed

• EP: there’s nothing I can do about it

• SE: I feel powerless

• UE: I feel powerless and overwhelmed.

• UN: What am I supposed to do about this?

• Chin: Releasing some of this overwhelm.

• CB: Releasing some of this anxiety.

• UA: Releasing this stress.

• TH: I recognize this trigger.

• EP: I recognize what it’s doing to me.

• SE: And I change the pattern.

• UE: I change this pattern now.

• UN: Changing my conditioned response.

• Chin: Changing this trigger now.

• CB: All these triggers.

• UA: Are coming into my awareness.

• TH: I’m aware of what I’m doing.

• EP: I’m aware of how I’m reacting.

• SE: I’m aware of what it’s doing to my body.

• UE: And I choose to change this pattern now.

• UN: I choose to change this pattern now.

• Chin: Releasing this pattern now.

• Take three deep breaths.

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