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How to Cope When Little Things Overwhelm You

Photo by 9042004 Duke
It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are the most important. ~Arthur Conan Doyle

I have always been wary of the little things in life. The little things can steal my serenity, rob me of peace of mind and kill my joy.

At the same time, I have been aware of the little things in my life:

  • The smell of freshly brewed coffee
  • The overheard laughter of a stranger
  • A spider web glistening with morning dew

How can I be defeated by little things or more likely, how can I LET little things defeat me? I identify with the concept of Chinese Water Torture as a method of ultimate despair — the premise being that drops of water fall onto the forehead of a restrained individual and ultimately render them insane.

7 Ways to Escape Feeling Overwhelmed

Photo by Steven Ritzer
Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be. ~Rick Warren

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed that it felt like a ball and chain locked to your ankle, keeping you down? I know I have.

If you’re imprisoned by overwhelm, it can kill your productivity and steal your happiness. Feeling panicked and stressed affects not only your mental health but your physical health as well.

Here are seven ways I have found that really work to unlock your ball and chain.

5 Reasons to Stop Ignoring Negative Emotions

Photo by Arif Akhtar
To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

I’ll never forget the first time I allowed myself to say, “I hate him.” I discovered the feeling during my meditation time. Seeing it there in front of me made me realize I needed to stop pretending it wasn’t true.

My dearest friend heard it first.

“I hate him,” I said with a smile. Not exactly the hateful expression you’d expect, but it was the most liberating statement I’d ever made, and I was so happy about it!

Always before I’d tried to reconcile myself to his presence. To be the bigger person, and not harbor hate in my heart. But through all my striving, I hated him still, and I’d just been lying to myself about it.

How to Reclaim Your Life After Childhood Abuse

Photo by Utomo Hendra Saputra
Editor’s Note

This article deals with child sexual abuse, a difficult issue for most to stomach. Because, as Leslie points out, one in four women and one in seven men have been abused before they are 18, and because so many abused children grow up to seek help from posts like those on TSN, I thought it was important to publish Leslie's article. However, if the subject is triggering, please seek a safe space where you can read this article, ask a trusted friend to read it with you or come back to it when you're feeling more ready.

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth. ~Buddha

I’m a survivor of child sexual abuse.

But even after decades I still can’t say that completely without shame. That’s the nature of this kind of abuse. Logic tells us we were children. We had no choice.

But the wounds go deep and are so hidden that for me, and many like me, that feeling of shame becomes as much a part of who we are as our eye color. We just learn to live with it.

We survive. But once innocence is lost, it can never return.

I believe many survivors of childhood abuse are drawn to spiritual traditions. Those of us who manage to fight the low self-esteem and the numbing lure of drugs and alcohol still need to make sense of what happened.

3 Things to Remember When You Want to Give Up

Photo by Leo Rey
Hope begins in the dark — the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work; you don’t give up. ~Anne Lamott

My friend and I ran along the sidewalk, side by side, our warm breath filling the cold December air. We hoped to cover more miles than usual as we trained for a longer race.

Rounding the corner to our least favorite hill, we routinely stopped talking, knowing we would pick up the conversation at the top just like we had done for years.

As we leaned into our steps, a man drove past us, leaned on his horn and gave us the finger for no reason. I caught a glimpse of his angry face as he sped by and wondered why he was so mad at us.

My friend turned towards the speeding car, her arms lifted in exasperation, and said, “Really?????”

We stood there staring at each other and wondered aloud what just happened. We both felt deflated and decided to walk up the rest of the hill. So much for the longer run.

How I Deal With Depression

Photo by Nicolas Fuentes
Turn my sorrow into treasured gold. ~Adele

Three years ago I was depressed. I couldn’t stop crying over the mistakes I had made, and I was trying to dig myself out of a dark hole. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t go back and the only way I saw out was through death. I wanted it to be over, and I couldn’t see how I was going to live with myself.

I went to a doctor for a checkup because my body was so tired. When I told her my symptoms, she immediately asked me if I had suicidal thoughts.

She saw right through me.

4 Lessons on Feeling Happy

Photo by Marcy Kellar
Be content with what you have; rejoice in where you are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ~Lao Tzu

As a conscious gal who’s committed to deepening my relationship with Self and helping others do the same, I’ve learned some potent lessons about the World’s Most-Wanted, elusive state of happiness.

Most often it’s our own expectation and longing for that happy-gassed state that’s actually the culprit of our suffering. The stronger our craving and attachment to the stuff, the less of it we get.

See happiness — like any emotion — checks in and checks out on the regular. It peaks and it wanes and then it doubles back to you.

I used to fret and dread the absence of happiness. I’d perpetuate the darkness by fearing it intensely. Like a dysfunctional relationship, my neediness only repelled the very stuff I wanted for. I’d cling on when happiness arrived, and I’d cry when it left.

6 Tips to Heal a Broken Heart

Photo by Arif Akhtar
When you protect yourself from pain, be sure you do not protect yourself from love. ~Alah Cohen

Many times in life we are faced with an experience where we pour our heart and soul into a situation and/or relationship only to have our heart broken.

We feel like all of our efforts were in vain, and although we gave our all, we are standing in the midst of the rubble that remains.

Often what happens after such an experience is that we decide that we will never allow ourselves to get hurt like that again, and so we do the smart thing and shut down.

We close off our hearts and are extremely cautious when it comes to love or any situation which requires us to open our heart and soul. We want proof that any venture of the heart is secure and safe.

How Losing My Job Cured My Depression

Photo by Eduardoizq
The things you own end up owning you. It's only after you lose everything that you're free to do anything. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

I thought I had it all.

I had a job that paid well and all the perks that went with it. I drove an expensive car and rented a spacious (but overpriced) apartment well-stocked with the latest modern conveniences.

I had a circle of equally high-flying, workaholic acquaintances, and we’d spend what little free time we had downing expensive drinks together in fashionable nightclubs and bars.

Fully occupied with my busy schedule, I never looked up long enough to realize that a cloud of discontent followed me everywhere I went. I also didn’t realize that chasing material excess was simply my subconscious attempt to outrun it.

But the economic crash of 2008 changed all that.

The Art of Letting Go

Photo by Rosie Hardy
When the mind discovers that you are no longer afraid of its content, it will leave you alone.

There I was again — lying in bed paralyzed by emotion. Constant noise clamored for the attention of my awareness like an uninvited circus.

Calliope music screeched a cacophony of self-criticism as lions roared and circled below me, eagerly awaiting my plunge from the high wire after losing my delicate balance between safety and self-destruction.

What could I have done to deserve this?

I lay there, unable to move physically, but tortured by a violent mental fight that raged within me. My mind wrestled with intricate contortions in an attempt to keep its balance when what it really needed was stillness.

My consciousness kept trying to put out fire with fire, to silence thought with more thought. But these were only flames of a different color.

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