Overcome Not Overwhelmed

“We tend to overcome what is in front of us and be overwhelmed by what isn’t.” -Peter Anthony 

Humans are capable of overcoming seemingly insurmountable suffering, challenges and trials. Within every personal or societal tragedy, there are stories of heroism and triumph of spirit. Of course, horrible things do happen and suffering is real, but this doesn’t mean that you let unknown realities overwhelm you.

When you think of what awaits you -- something outside of your reach -- do you have confidence in your spirit to handle life’s challenges or are you overwhelmed by the WHAT IF?

Addressing this plague of the unknown overwhelming us is Stephen Covey’s First Habit of Highly Effective People:

“Instead of reacting to or worrying about conditions over which they have little or no control, proactive people focus their time and energy on things they can control. The problems, challenges, and opportunities we face fall into two areas--Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence.”

You can think of it in this way:
“Can I influence this issue in some way by my actions?”
No. Then it is only in a Circle of Concern. Stop worrying and wasting energy.
“Can I influence this issue in some way by my actions?”
Yes. Then it is in your Circle of Influence. Go DO something about it.

And furthermore, have confidence in your ability to influence your life positively and cope with the unknown. Negativity about things outside of your influence, without good reason, has a name. It’s called “Catastrophizing” and it undermines people’s ability to cope.

According to this Psychology Today article: “Catastrophizing is a common cognitive distortion that has been extensively studied in psychology. Catastrophizing has two parts:

● Part 1: Predicting a negative outcome.
● Part 2: Jumping to the conclusion that if the negative outcome did in fact happen, it would be a catastrophe."

Here’s an example:
“I can’t believe I said that to her when I was drinking. She’ll hate me know. This is going to end the friendship. And if she doesn’t like me, than her friends will all turn against me and since her friend is dating my boss, he’ll find out and then what? I could get fired. This is so overwhelming.”

What is “in front” of the person in this example is a misdirected comment or conversation. That is all. What is not in front of them, but overwhelming, is the catastrophic assumption that she will get fired. This is likely untrue and also outside of her sphere of influence. What she can influence is her friendship. She can apologize and try and make things right. After that, she can stay mindful and positive about herself and the outcome. And in this way she will Overcome what is in front of her and NOT be Overwhelmed by what isn’t.

What can you influence in your life today? What is overwhelming that you should you let go?



Human Unlimited
Human Unlimited