midlife, personal growth

Experience the Moment – Even if You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

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I’d bet it hasn’t been that long since you’ve had a day when you felt down, disappointed or overwhelmed.

Yesterday was overwhelming for me, as some days are for all of us.

Yet, even after a crappy day, we can admit that we don’t want to rush through the days of our life (even the messy hard ones) and then look back later with regret about how we didn’t experience each day of our life more fully.

But what if experiencing the day more profoundly, more mindfully present in the moment, means sitting more fully – in the weeds.

Sitting in the weeds – feeling overwhelmed, stressed, sad, inadequate, lost, running on empty and out of cheerful gas.

And stuck. Repeating events that didn’t go the way we would have liked in our minds, and on an endless loop. Reeling from a heartbreaking disappointment, a kid that didn’t make the team, a lost client, a promotion that didn’t happen, a huge or unexpected expense… the list is endless.

Do we really want to be mindful and completely feel the present moment when we’re feeling pulled in one hundred different directions? Trying to be everything for everyone and not feeling like we’re doing a good job at anything.

Should we try to live life in the moment even when we’re feeling overwhelmed?

Yes. A thousand times YES!

Escaping the moments (days? weeks?) of feeling lost in the weeds and unable to get our heads above water is impossible. And solves nothing. And doesn’t make any of it go away or feel better.

Feeling occasionally overwhelmed and all the other unpleasant feelings is a part of being alive. Period.

Happy, and not-so-happy, emotions come in and out of our minds and hearts, no matter what we do.

It’s like the ebb and flow of ocean water rushing onto the sandy shore and then pulling away just as quickly. It’s like the breath that rushes in and out of our lungs, without us controlling it. We can’t stop it. Our feelings, like our breath, are literally what make us alive.

It’s as impossible as stopping the waves on the shore to truly hold them still.

So how can we embrace it all?

Exactly by being mindful.

We must consciously enjoy the water (life!) as it rushes over our toes and accept that it naturally escapes away. And although it quickly retreats… it comes back again. And again, and again and again!

Sometimes the water feels warm and glorious. Sometimes it’s icy cold and harsh.

So, while we’re feeling overwhelmed and frustrated because things didn’t go exactly as we would have liked them to today…

Let’s embrace that going through challenges and feeling overwhelmed is a part of life. The life that we are grateful for at the end of each day. The life that could be So. Much. Worse.

Keep it in perspective.

As quickly as the hard stuff washes in, so does the good stuff. The magically wonderful moments when our hearts feel full and the world seems right. When we feel like we’ve had a win, we receive good news, our kids have a good day, or our old dog makes it up the stairs another time.

We are what we think. And our thoughts are fleeting.

Stop for a moment, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Right now, try it!

Notice how your breath goes in and out. Then notice how your thoughts and feelings come and go. See them pass through your mind – separate from who you are – imagine your thoughts are like clouds floating by in the sky.

All things pass. Our thoughts, our breath, our lives.

Be mindful of it all. Fully live it. Fully feel it. And then, let it go.

No matter how good or bad the previous minute of your life was – it’s over. Gone.

Let it go so that you can make space for this next moment. The present moment.

Feel optimism that the present moment is going to be magical – even if it’s not, in sixty seconds it will have passed!

It takes work but being present and living each moment of our lives more fully, even the hard and overwhelming moments, can help us slow down the days, weeks and years that are rushing past us.

And in the end, that is what we want, isn’t it?

When we’re eighty years old, I’ll bet we’ll be willing to give up our very last pain-free vertebra to live just one of these overwhelming days again.

Cheers to fully living the moments of a crappy overwhelming day as much as we do the incredibly happy ones.  – Marlene

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