When Life Feels Impossible and Overwhelming

July 8, 2014

Someone I love has been going through a rough patch lately and I want nothing more than to make it better for them. Being a coach and personal development writer, I noticed my desire to start coaching and “inspiring”. Instead, I paused and thought back to my experiences going through the quarter life crisis, struggling to build a business, never having enough money, being in relationships that didn’t serve me, and all the other fun stuff in between.

What I remember most about those times were that they felt impossible and overwhelming. I remember not wanting to be told things like “it gets better” or “stay positive” because it felt like the world was closing in on me, everything was happening to me, and I had absolutely nothing left to give.

Impossible and overwhelming.

I remember how hard I tried, again and again, to make changes in my life, build a thriving business doing work I loved, “find myself”, create real depth and connection, and just be happy, secure, and in love with life. I also remember how many times it seemed like every step forward was met with five crashing steps backwards, where I wouldn’t just move back, I’d take out the whole walkway, walls, and anything else that had been built up around it.

Impossible and overwhelming.

I remember the night I cried my eyes out in my car parked at an ocean lookout. I was in so much emotional pain it physically hurt to be in my body. I sobbed until I almost hyperventilated… and then I just stopped. That was the first, and most intense, divine moment I’ve ever experienced in my life. A moment where I felt like part of me had left my body and ventured out into the stars. I could feel, with every fiber in my being, my truth and essence. There was joy, inspiration, creativity, love, connection, peace, and depth. It was amazing.

But actually getting to that place?


And yet, here I am today, living a life I love, with amazing people, doing some of the work I was put here to do.

Not only that, I’ve met and gone beyond that feeling I conjured up one sad, lonely night at an overlook by the ocean.

So if you’re feeling like life is impossible and overwhelming, know that I hear you. I know. Our experiences and journeys are different, but I understand. I know you don’t want to hear “be positive” and “it will all work out.” I know you feel like you’re giving everything you’ve got and there’s nothing left. I know you’re tired, need a hug and a bubble bath, and just want to get there already.

I hear you, I love you, and I know.

I’ve thought a lot about what I can say to someone, like the person I know and love, about getting through the impossible and overwhelming, that wouldn’t have made me rage out when I was in my own dark and hard place. Because even though we know things like “be positive” and “it gets better” are wise truths, we don’t want to hear it. It’s quite possibly the most annoying thing anyone on this planet could ever say. We feel like the only person who’s ever had this difficult of a time trying to create a good life. We think that because someone is shiny and happy, they don’t get it. How could they? Their life is clearly awesome!

So here’s what I have to say (and yes, it’s all annoying and cliche… but also wise and true):

Take care of yourself.

When you do take a step forward only to take five crashing steps back, take a self care timeout. This “change your life” stuff isn’t easy, so be good to yourself. Fall backwards into a bubble bath, a Sunday afternoon nap, a good fiction book, or a date with a great friend. Nurture yourself every step of the way and you’ll build up more resilience at an incredible pace. Pretty soon, even ten steps back will feel like a little misstep in a bouncy house and you’ll pop right back up ready to plow forward again. Promise.

Don’t stop trying.

Take timeouts when you need them, but don’t give up. Trying to make changes often requires things literally rewiring your brain, uprooting yourself from what’s known and comfortable, taking a sledgehammer to parts (or all) of your life, changing your ecology, and so much more. I’ll say it again, this “change your life” stuff isn’t easy. Not even a little bit! In theory, it’s all pretty simple. Be positive, speak your truth, love yourself, blah blah blah. Simple in theory, crazy hard in reality. Remember how you used to fall when you were first learning to walk? Probably not, but you know what I’m saying… practice, patience (or a total meltdown followed by a self care timeout, followed by trying again), and perseverance. I got to where I am because I kept trying, you will too.

Stop doing it all yourself.

Get the support you need, whether it’s crying to your best friend or hiring a coach, mentor, or counselor. Join a program or community, ask for help when you need it, read books written by people who’ve been where you are. You’re not the only person going through this, and there are people who’ve made it through and then wrote books about how you can do it too. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and experience that surrounds you and get some support. I know you can do this on your own, I know it. But wouldn’t you rather be “there” (happy, fulfilled, living your passion, loving your life, etc) sooner rather than later? Books, mentors, coaches, counselors, programs, communities, etc. They’re all key, use them as much as you can.

Don’t get mad…

At me, because I’m going to say it: stay positive. Again, I know how annoying that is to hear, I personally hated that statement! But if I can attribute changing my life to one thing, it’s changing my mindset. Again, these aren’t easy to implement, but they are hugely transformational! Don’t be stubborn. People say cliche things for a reason, because they’re true and they work. Roll your eyes if you want, but do the exercises!

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