Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fighting the overwhelm

For as long as I can remember, I've had the feeling that the only state I know well is being overwhelmed. Perhaps it's related to not being in control of events. Like the abuse that filled my childhood, the pain and multiple operations for endometriosis/adenomyosis (next one will likely be next year), and the unexpected and uncontrollable natural disasters that have personally affected me in the last few years.

Of course, there are many more 'controllable' aspects that increase the overwhelm. Especially the seemingly unavoidable feedback loop of earning to pay for medical treatment, and the work (or work situation) negatively affecting health. But also the drive to keep studying, taking on too large a work/study/life load, being strongly affected by other people's problems (especially family), having so many interests and hobbies, and wanting to help everyone with everything, even when unhappy and unwell. I seem to have always aimed at being an over-achiever, but almost never achieving what I set out to do.

More than one professional has suggested that many people may take on too much because of their fear of failure, even though this seems counter-intuitive. By overloading, problems will inevitably arise, which the person can then blame for not achieving the goal. Some suggest it's because of a fear of uncertainty (or risk). By overloading, it is almost certain that at least one thing will fail.

I've put myself in such a situation again. I have started the third of a three-course intensive language program, am trying to keep up with the Stanford database course (my computer science knowledge is extremely rusty), running my first ever English conversation course (lesson planning and formal grammar learning devours so much time), started to write on HubPages, enrolled in a couple of writing courses, agreed to review some books, and have agreed to take on more English classes soon. I'm often chafing that I can't pursue my other hobbies - they are the first things that get put aside for work, then study and then writing commitments. Of course, this is in a place unfamiliar to me, without my normal support network, after a series of events in the last few years that were truly overwhelming for me.

So my current focus is finding strategies to fight the overwhelm, pruning back to things that are important, and working towards somewhat better health, before the next operation knocks me over again.