Interview With Special Guest: Overwhelm

Interview With Special Guest: Overwhelm

Hey Overwhelm!  Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed on the blog.

Hello Siobhán! Yes nice to see you again, although I visited you briefly about a week ago. Still, always a pleasure. 

That’s right – you and I go way back. I remember we used to hang out nearly all day every day for what felt like a decade! 

We did indeed. You were one of my best clients. Or worst. Depending on how you look at it. 

Er – thanks. Ok, let’s get started. My name, Siobhán, means ‘Grace of God’. What does Overwhelm mean?

‘Overwhelm’ means ‘engulf or submerge, or to ‘bury or drown beneath a huge mass of something’. Not quite as poetic as your name, is it?! My name was given to me by you humans, you all just love to stick a label on things, including a Feeling. 

Unfortunately, humans think the ‘huge mass of something’ is tasks, actions, projects, jobs and chores. 

Are you saying it’s not?

Right. Humans think I represent a ton of things to do. But actually, I represent a ton of THOUGHT. 

Oooookay. So what is your job? 

I have a great job! I am a Feeling and my sole purpose is to advise humans when they are caught up in a lot of thought. I’ve been specifically designed to get the attention of a busy-minded human so that they are alerted when they have a lot of thinking, and to take a step back. 

That sounds easy! And very rewarding I imagine. 

It is super easy, technically speaking. But it is very hard to get good results.

I notice when a human’s thoughts are speeding up, jumping around and multiplying and then I swoop in with sensations as the notification system. Humans have called these sensations  ‘buzzy’,  ‘wavey’, ‘rushing’ ‘swirling’ and many others, but it’s all just one energy. 

But cute names from the humans, though, as I think you’ll agree.  

Although the mechanics of the job are easy, I rarely get the outcome I want. You see, there’s a huge misunderstanding about why I visit you humans. 

What do you mean by that, Overwhelm? What is the misunderstanding?

Well as I said, I show up to gently remind you all that you have a lot of THINKING going on. Unfortunately, it’s widely believed that I show up when you all have a lot of STUFF TO DO. 

I don’t know how the misunderstanding occurred, but somehow my presence has been linked to overflowing to-do lists, piles of projects, chores, tasks, and infinite thing to do. But I am only around because of a lot of thought. 

This means that when I visit a human, they freak out. They see my presence as a bad thing. They see me as a sign that things are out of control, that there are too many demands on them, too many things to do, and not enough time. 

It’s sad for me because I know the only thing that’s happening is a lot of thought. I know the humans can be much, much happier and less stressed if they knew my true meaning. 

So now, humans hate me. They hate feeling me. All I want to do is help them feel better, and I can! If only they knew the simple meaning of my presence. 

Aw Overwhelm. Don’t be sad. How do you think we can help the other humans see your true job in this world?

The first step would be to consider that you’ve all got it wrong. You are all so used to considering me, Overwhelm, as a bad thing that very few look in the opposite direction to my true meaning. 

If you could all just entertain the possibility that a visit from me only and ever means you have a large volume of thought, that can start to change things. 

But isn’t a large volume of thought bad? 

No! A large volume of thought doesn’t mean anything. It just IS. It happens to humans most days, you know. The thing about a large volume of thought, or very speedy thoughts as often felt too, is that it obscures the clarity and beauty of life. Let me emphasise – this is not a bad thing! Its completely normal. The only ‘problem’ is when the human mistakes the cloudiness of their thoughts for difficulties in their life. 

Uh ok. So if you show up to let a human know when they have a lot of thought going on, what should they do?

Nothing! Thoughts will fade and clear and settle on their own. I’m just there to let the human know that they are thinking a lot, and that life isn’t looking clear right now as a result. 

You should really interview Thought about this, Siobhán.

Ok, noted. Many people say that when you show up, Overwhelm, you also bring your friend Procrastination, or even Total and Complete Avoidance. We think that when we need to get on with things the most, we can’t.  What do you have to say about that? 

Great question! I have noticed that too. When I show up as Overwhelm, you humans seem to withdraw from tasks, avoid them, or have a lack of focus for anything you do attempt. 

Yes, I basically just said that. I’m asking why this is.

Look, I can’t explain the inner workings of you humans. I’m a simple detector for the amount of thoughts you have swirling around. But what I have seen over the years is that this avoidance or delaying behaviour when I visit is part of the misunderstanding of what I represent, which I mentioned earlier. 

When a human believes that a visit from Overwhelm means there are many things to do with not enough time, knowledge, support, money or skill to do them, those THINGS look hard. A human brain, so I have learned, wants to avoid hard things to preserve energy. 

So what can a human do to get on with stuff even if Overwhelm is around?

See that my being there doesn’t mean anything about the things that ‘need’ to be done. Really try and separate that. Now, this can take time so I don’t expect any humans reading this to be able to suddenly change what I, Overwhelm, mean to them. Gradually, however, when humans come to realise that Overwhelm visits ONLY when there’s a ton of thinking going on, the tasks themselves lose their heavy meaning. 

A tip for a human to start seeing this is to notice how arbitrary the amount of tasks, their perceived difficulty, confusion or completion time are. 

For example, I visit people who have one phonecall to return that day and that is the only thing they need to do, and I stay all day. 

I also visit people who have 4 different deadlines, a sick child, an impending divorce, a leaking roof and 673 unread emails and I stay for 3 minutes. 

This is because my visit has NOTHING to do with the amount of things which need to be done. 

Ok, Overwhelm. I’m not sure people will get that just yet but that’s fine. What’s the worst thing about your role?

When I arrive and people are rolling around on the floor screaming that they “hate this feeling” and “I hate feeling this way”. I feel so unwelcome. I just want to help.

Awww. Best thing about your role?

I just LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE when humans come to understand my role. I saw this with you Siobhán. You hated me for years and years until you gradually saw my presence as a gift. I love seeing the change in humans when they come to see my visits as a kind clue that they are busy minded and that’s it. 

Who do you most hang out with and why?

I hang out with almost everyone. I’m pretty sociable. Unfortunately, as I said, I am rarely welcome. 

Because of the misunderstanding around my role and purpose for my visit, I often hang out with the same people over and over because they just don’t understand yet. I’m hoping this interview will clear a few things up. 

What should people do when you visit?

Firstly, as I keep saying, come to know I am there to let you know about your level of thought, not about your to-do list. 

See me as kind. See me as an enormous clue to slow down and calm down. 

When I visit, a great thing to do is for us to go on a walk together, have some quiet time, maybe sit down with a cup of tea, or I’ll hold the fort while you go for a run or a nap. 

What about people who absolutely do not have time to have a cup of tea?

Those are the people that need it the most. Put it this way – I won’t stop visiting until we have a cup of tea together. 

What’s your favourite food?


Is laughter a food?

It is for a Feeling like me. It’s delicious and goes with everything. 

Anything else you want to tell the lovely people out there?

Yes, actually. I need a rest! We are interviewing in November 2021 and it’s coming up to a busy time of year for me – the holidays. I’d be rushed off my feet, if I had feet. 

I’d quite like a bit of a rest this year. 2020 and 2021 have been my busiest years yet and I’m pretty tired. 

I’d just love for the humans to consider – for a tiny moment – that I am not the scary Feeling you think I am. I am a friend. A well-wisher. I am your advocate. Let’s have a fresh start for the relationship between Overwhelm and the humans. 

Thanks for coming on today, Overwhelm. Probably see you next week for a cup of tea.

You definitely will. Thanks Siobhán. Bye. 

What did you think of what Overwhelm had to say? Do you think you could have a fresh look at your relationship with them? Or are they full of shit? Let me know here.