How to avoid feeling overwhelmed

Learn more about the nature of emotions and how to not be overcome by emotional reactions. A simple explanation of Emotional Intelligence.

How to avoid feeling overwhelmed

Sometimes we get stuck in a situation or emotion that can feel so overwhelming and consuming that we think we might never get out of it. Later though, we often look back and think, wow, I got through it, and it wasn’t so bad.

So can we learn emotional intelligence and change how we deal with what we feel to avoid feeling overwhelmed?

Some examples are:

  • Exam time
  • Applying for finance
  • Learning to drive
  • A painful breakup or divorce
  • A loved one passing

Grief, anger, sadness and jealousy are all very common emotions and we are sometimes overwhelmed with the intensity with which they can hit us. It can help to know that although these emotions and intense periods can be a common experience for many, it does not have to be the normal way we experience life.

For most of us, when we are experiencing an emotion, for example sadness, we identify and define ourselves as that sadness.

We may say, “I am sad”, as though it were our name. We call ourselves Sad, rather than Frank, Steve, Jane or Alison. Doing this centralises the emotion and makes it our focal point, which in turn magnifies the experience.

Because parts of the physical body, (brain) correspond or become activated in relation to emotions, we feel these within us and therefore think that is who we are.

If we were to think of emotions as forms of energy, like electricity passing through us, we could start to understand the “voltage”, “current” and “frequency” of the stuff we are feeling. We could then say, “hey that sadness is not me, it is something passing though me, something that will pass, and something that I can get a handle on, it will not be with me forever and is not who I am or how I define myself. It is merely something that I am experiencing at this moment”.

Because our brain and body are very adaptable, we can begin to “train” or support ourselves to experience the things we would ultimately like, such as:

These too are forms of energy, that have their own “voltage”, and we can feel the difference immediately. Joy and harmony for example, do not have the same “charge” as anger or sadness and do not leave us feeling drained, exhausted or depleted.

On a physical level, our brain and body readily accept these feelings of joy and harmony, even in the face of distressing or challenging situations, and even in times of grief, hurt or anger. It is a matter of understanding that you are not those emotions. Even if society expects you to feel a certain way in a certain situation, if it feels bad or distressing, depleting and awful, we can make a choice about how to feel and respond.

It is possible, over time, to “retrain” yourself and your brain for you to feel more accepting of love and joy on a daily basis.

In light of current research into the brain and body, we are able to say that our choice to be gentle and supportive with ourselves, especially in times of distress, can be the key to developing emotional intelligence.

This choice to be gentle with ourselves can go a long way to avoiding feeling overwhelmed by intense and unpleasant emotions arising from issues like divorce or financial problems.

Remember, you are not your issues and you are not your emotions. At the core of who you are is tenderness and love – YOU ARE YOU.

Filed under

FeelingsOverwhelmEmotionsBreak upDivorceHarmonyStillnessHurtLoveIntelligence

  • By Marianna Masiorski, Psychologist | B Psych (Hons), MAPS, EPA Recognised

    Marianna has found great joy in her dedication to her work and family. She focuses on diet, nutrition and general health as a way of supporting psychological well-being.