Photo by H. Lorren Au Jr. / Orange County Register
I paddle out into the great ever changing abyss. It has been awhile since the waves were as big as the double overhead monsters opening their power before me. The water tugs so forcefully on my leash that it is dragging me as I am tossed around with salt and sand in the darkness underneath. Letting up moments before I run out of life giving air. This is an overwhelming moment. But overwhelm is not always obvious and suddenly emerging. Sometimes it sneaks up on you like those psycho killers in the scary movies when everything is peaceful and as the seconds tick by the feeling of chills emerge as they sense the change of atmosphere before turning to see the killer (overwhelm) staring them in the face.
The sneaky overwhelm happens as we allow our "just say no" button to break. Volunteering for things out of guilt not because we have a connection or passion. Pressures of society persuading us to be super mom and dad. Those same societal pressures telling us what our measure of success is rather than taking the time that we need to figure what success means to us. I posted that question on facebook a year ago and the answers where all along the lines of who you are as a person (parent, daughter, son, spouse, partner, friend) and the impact you have on loved ones. It was never based on the amount of money made, ranking in a company, how many business, houses, cars, or any other materialistic thing was accumulated. So, in my very brief survey in which I am sure people didn't take days to ponder their response, success is deemed on a very different platform than what our country would have you believe. Yet, any of us can easily get sucked into that mindset. Especially in our social media addicted modern day world. The comparison trap causes us to question our priorities, our definition of success, and level of what we add to our plate in order to keep up with what we think we should be doing. Life balance gets thrown by the wayside until, and unless, we take time to stop and gain introspective insight to our lives to see if what we really want, what makes us happy, and what is important to us is lining up with what we are actually spending our time doing.
When your goal is for health but, you are too overwhelmed by the rest of your life to find the time to exercise or cook healthy food, it is time to make some shifts to your schedule. When you are spending time working so late or feeling the need to chill in front of the tv into the late hours of night causing you to miss out on valuable repairative sleep, change is needed. When you feel bitter by the amount of household duties on your shoulders while your spouse has none, a conversation needs to happen. If you need to take deep breaths and a pep talk just to try to enter into your place of work to make it through the day, it is time to look at a career change or a different work environment. Zero time to yourself because the kids are in so many activities there is no time left for you? Time to scale back on their schedule or implement a carpool schedule. I can find myself in some of these scenarios throughout my life. It may not be feasible to make a huge change in your life at the moment but, I urge you to make the small ones that you can. Start planning for what you can do to make those bigger changes in the future. Change is scary even when it is exciting. But, in the end it is always worth it to leave overwhelm in the past and bask in the serenity of knowing that you have created a life that is based on your definition of success, not someone else's. Imagine the peace that will come after you take the steps from where you are to that place that you really want to be.