Each of us has a certain emotional bandwidth of what we can handle on a day-to-day, month-to-month or even year-to-year basis. When our bandwidth is maxed out we feel overwhelmed. The temptation is to check out and avoid. Some of us get paralyzed and incapacitated, while others go-go-go trying to task-master their way out of it.
I love this exerpt from a blog post by Karin Habib, PhD:
So how can we increase our emotional bandwidth? Step one is changing how you take information in and respecting your limits. Implied in the first step is step two: take time out to process your feelings. Don’t avoid. That’s how people stay overwhelmed. Journal daily, talk to friends, meditate, talk to a therapist. Do something that allows you to acknowledge what’s been going on in your life. This is how you begin to increase what you can tolerate. Spending time with feelings builds a sense of competence and self trust, and allows you to be more comfortable with yourself and your internal world. This, in turn, lets you sit more comfortably with other people’s emotions.
Life is a juggling act. Sometimes we have too many balls in the air and they all come tumbling down. Other times we comfortably juggle what’s there.
By checking in with ourselves emotionally, we remain attuned to how much of our bandwidth is being used up and can adjust accordingly.
Embrace the ebbs and flows of life, and when you are feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and choose to honor your own limits with enough self-respect to know that your limits are different from anyone else’s, so don’t compare.