Ming the Mechanic:

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Overwhelm2003-01-23 18:12
picture by Flemming Funch

"Most everybody is overwhelmed. And they respond with various defense mechanisms. Denial, isolation, increased greed ('I'll get it while I can'), righteousness ('It's their own fault'). There are a whole set of mechanisms that people use to keep from being open, because the quality of the human heart uncontrolled by the mind is that it will give away everything... We have to find ways to exercise the compassion of our hearts, and at the same moment learn how to know what the limits are and be able to say no without guilt." -- Ram Dass
Jon Husband mentioned that quote. Indeed, I think it is a well-kept secret that most people are overwhelmed by life at this point. It didn't used to be like that. The world has sped up. Things are accelerating. Most people can't really keep up. Sometimes I think that it is just me, and that the people around me are just standing around waiting for me to get my act together. Until I look a little deeper and realize that most people I know are so thoroughly busy keeping up with their own lives that they don't have much time to stand around and philosophize about what I am not getting done. Nobody seems to have any time left over after doing what they need to do. Because they're not done doing what they need to do.

Fundamentally I think it is a good and useful thing. An evolutionary trigger. See, if there isn't time enough to get everything done, you have to learn to prioritize and to be more discerning about what you do, and what not to do. And it is inevitably leading towards that you'll choose to do the things that you most feel you need to do, the essential stuff - what is most vital. And you'll choose to do what is exciting, rather than what is boring. I mean, if I can't do everything anyway, why on earth would I choose to do the boring stuff, and leave the exciting stuff undone.

But, when we're put under pressure, apparently being asked to do more things than what appears to be humanly possible, it brings up a whole bunch of feelings and reactions from the bottom of our psyche. We might temporarily escape the problem by coercing others into doing more things for us. We might put on blinders, and start ignoring a larger portion of life. We might deny it altogether, and pretend that our life is perfectly in order, all organized, relaxed and secure. We might hold on to the way things used to be.

Ultimately I think it is about learning to both be very open and flexible, and at the same time very discerning and precise. Be open to everything that the universe blows by your nose, but don't assume that you're supposed to analyze and package all of it. That's impossible. Just be open to it. You can watch the leaves blowing off the trees, and find it beautiful, without having to collect or count each single leaf.

There's plenty of time for that which is most essential. The time is always NOW, and there's never more or less of now. So, of course you have time enough for doing what you're doing right now. You just have to give up the idea that you SHOULD be doing something else than what you're doing. Do what you need to do. Don't do everything else.

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23 Jan 2003 @ 21:40 by ashanti : Timeous!
Thanks, Ming, this is so timeous. I and everyone around me are totally in overwhlem at the moment. It comes from too much expected from too few people (globalization greed - squeeze as much as you can out of them). I'm doing a high stress job just to make a base-line bit of money, and then I'm bailing before I burn-out. It's interesting to watch the people around me. Many are on Prozac, have taken to drinking alcohol excessively, and some have taken up smoking.

I find there are times when I feel sucked into the vortex, overwhelmed by it all, but most times, I cope by detaching, letting it whirl around me - like being in the eye of a tornado. I haven't resorted to any substances, I make myself meditate with music each day, to keep in touch with the Sacred.

The worst thing about being in a burn-out stress job is that you have NO time to do the things you want. Most people (in my area, that is) are in this position - they are trapped by needing to earn an income, and have to do jobs they hate.

In South Africa, there is an almost 50% unemployment rate - so people stay in jobs they hate for fear they will never get another one, and they are probably right. The poverty problem is escalating. And it's a group "agreement", or mind-set that causes this. The majority of people are not geared towards being entrepreneurs, although the country is looking at developing skills in terms of self-employment.

I think you are right, I think this is ultimately a good thing. We are being forced to prioritise, and find other ways of making a living. If we don't, we will not survive.

Thanks for a great post.  

24 Jan 2003 @ 15:21 by sharie : Greed as a defense mechanism?
I'd never seen GREED listed as a defense mechanism, that's interesting. I wonder how that manifests.

50% unemployment, wow! Sounds like the makings of a revolution.

I feel overwhelmed and I don't even have the pressures of a boss and co-workers. I notice I'm often telling myself that "I don't have time..." so I'm trying to reprogram my self-talk to say, "I have all the time in the world" because people who seem relaxed and comfortable seem to be thinking that.

What are my defenses?

I avoid people who are rude or abusive... as everybody knows.  

17 Nov 2006 @ 19:13 by eliza @ : student counseling
I think you've got the busy-ness of life pegged exactly. I work at a student counseling center at a university campus and am working on a bookmark to distribute to students about that very thing. I was wondering if I could use your picture -- it's perfect for what I want to do. I'd appreciate it. Email me whenever. Thanks.  

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