The Hidden Cause of Feeling Overwhelmed

Feeling overwhelmed?Feeling overwhelmed?

You are not alone. It strikes all of us at some time.

The way you deal with it will greatly influence how quickly you will stop feeling overwhelmed.

There are all sorts of ways to do this. Things like simplifying, saying no to stuff, improve scheduling, dropping non essential tasks – to name but a few.

Those things, whilst they can be very effective, are not dealing with the hidden cause of feeling overwhelmed.

So, what is the hidden cause of feeling overwhelmed?

Before I answer that question, here are some clues:

Feeling overwhelmed is one of the complaints I hear most often from my clients. Things such as:

  • I feel overwhelmed by trying to balance work and family life.
  • I feel overwhelmed by all the different roles and resposibilities I have to juggle.
  • I feel overwhelmed by feeling stuck in a rut and not knowing where to start.

Spot the link yet?

Overwhelm is a Feeling.

And where do feelings come from?

Our thoughts.

It is not all the stuff going on in your life that it is causing your feelings of overwhelm. You are creating your own feelings. Nothing else. It is what you are thinking about all the stuff going on that is triggering those feelings.

So, to truly master overwhelm you need to be dealing with what you are thinking about the situation. Then you will be in a better position to manage it.

Yes, my friends, the hidden cause of overwhelm is your Mindset.

That is why I bang on so much about the importance of developing your mindset.

Because it totally dictates how we feel, experience and respond to any given situation. And as a result, our response will dictate the outcome moving forward.

Master your Mindset = Master your Life

But let’s get back to the specific issue of feeling overwhelmed:

Every time you hear yourself say “I feel overwhelmed”, consider this:

  • What are you thinking that is creating that feeling?
  • What new thought do you need to focus on to create a different feeling?
  • What are your feeling overwhelmed trigger points?
  • What will you put in place to proactively manage these?

Be patient with yourself with this. You are starting to work on changing deeply ingrained thought processes. It takes time and practice.

Getting professional help with stuff like this can speed up the process. If you are struggling with this get some support.

Keep reminding yourself that overwhelm is a feeling and that feelings originate from your thoughts.

What will you do to learn how to manage your mindset better so that you feel overwhelmed less often?

I am interested to hear your experiences of dealing with overwhelm. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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  • I like your point about not telling ourselves things that make us feel more pressured. It is easy to get into critical self talk which doesn’t help at all.
    Also, your last sentence raises a really important point – the first step in any change is awareness. So just allowing ourselves to notice how our thoughts are impacting us is a good enough first step rather than trying to rush into fix it mode straight away.

  • Sue Mitchell

    Brilliant, Ali! I love your bullet list of things to consider when you feel overwhelmed. So often we could manage the situation better if we weren’t telling ourselves things that make us feel more pressured than we need to be. It seems like there is always something more to it than just feeling like there’s too much to do, but we’re not even all that conscious of how our thoughts are impacting us.

  • Lisa

    I cant cope with juggling work and my children and all the chores that has to be done, I feel that I am not living for me and cant do the things I used to enjoy and that everyone else comes first. I feel frustrated stressed annoyed and like I want to cry…

  • Lisa, I sincerely hope you are able to find a way to feeling in a better place. Take care.

  • gary


    I too feel like this, you want people to appreciate you, and it mostly does not happen. You come first-you have to do something each day for you-if you are not content-it will show by anger, resentment etc. to your family.

    I don’t always practice what I preach, but do find time for myself.

    good luck


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  • inotowok

    Problem with this line of reasoning is that it places everything on an individual, without regard to context. Our environment and socio-political context matters enormously. As an extreme example, could a person forced onto a train bound for a concentration camp, be also said to just be having thoughts that are causing their fear and distress? What outside agents are doing to us matters a great deal. Americans in general are being pushed to do more (and do it perfectly) than what is humanly reasonable — and we are designed to have thoughts and feelings about being pushed.

  • Thanks for sharing your perspective. I think there is a big difference between overwhelm that is generating from our own actions, thought patterns, behaviours, habits and choices versus things that are outside of our control. In relation to the former, we need to take personal responsibility for everything going on in our life in order to move through it and create a new reality.