How to handle overwhelm

Pressure...photo © 2007 Casey Serin | more info (via: Wylio)
We all have those times when we are doing something very important, very urgent. It feels like, if we fail, it is going to cause irreversible damage. Tension, worry, fear and perspiration run high.

I have had so many such instances during my student and my professional life. The exams, the projects, the job interviews, professional problems.. So many of them kept me at my nerves end. I did not always do well, I did not always choose the right way either. But I have still done quite OK. Looking back, I feel I could have done without all that stress and worrying. This is not to say that I should have not made an effort. On the contrary, I think not worrying would have helped my performance.

Do you have those moments when you are not doing your best, even though the situation urgently requires it?

In time, I have realized that no problem, whatever be it’s size, can be the end of this world. In fact, most problems that look so big right now, will look small and inconsequential, when we look back at this time a few years from now,.. maybe even within a few months or weeks.

How to handle such moments?

Your options. What are your options in such times? Either you can sit and worry, or you can try do your best.

Worry anyhow is not going to make things better, then why worry!? There is no point in it, except to keep yourself feeling miserable. It’s not that if things go bad, your worries will keep you better prepared. Just do your best and let it go. Have faith, things will be all right.

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy. –Leo Buscaglia

Worry Vs Concern. I am not asking you to stop being concerned about things. But concern is different from worrying. Concern means you desire to do well at what you are doing. You are enthusiastically monitoring it’s progress. The focus is on doing things better and enjoying them. A concerned person will not beat himself up for making mistakes, he will just make the necessary changes and continue.

Worry, on the other hand, keeps you thinking about what can go wrong. You fear failure. Instead of helping you keep on track, it breaks your nerve, rendering you in capable of doing all that you can. It can cause, what my engineering self would call, a partial or total system shutdown.

Plotting loosely. We like to keep life totally under our control and this gives rise to worry. We cannot control everything and we cannot do our best all the time either. When we try that, we end up being so worried that, we even miss what we could realistically have achieved. Keep your plans flexible. Have the big goal in mind, have a plan to get there too. But keep your focus on the goal, not on the plan. The plan is bound to suffer and change when you implement it. When this happens don’t exasperate, just keep modifying your plan as things change. All good plans see a lot of change during their lifetime.

Give yourself some slack. Smile in a bad situation. If you can’t think of what to do, just do whatever comes to your mind first.

Have faith. Don’t panic when things are going wrong, when you are loosing things. It happens with everybody. Have faith that you can always bounce back. Have faith in your capabilities.

The lessons. These are situations that help you learn by giving you feedback. These situations can make you better. As we rise to new levels, our old ideas can’t sustain us there. Life then gives us some new experiences to learn from, to form better ideas, more compatible with our new self. They say Experience is a stern teacher that punishes first and teaches afterwards. That is how it is.

Things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be. –Samuel Johnson

Keep trying. ‘Keep trying’ should be your mantra, not ‘keep doing your best’. We all have our lows. There will be times when you just won’t get it right, no matter how hard you try. It’s OK. Just keep trying. Success doesn’t require you to do your best every time, it requires you to keep trying, whether you do good or not. This is all that is required, to keep trying, and some faith in yourself.

Here is something from my life.

At different times during my life, I have gotten the worst marks in my class, I have failed subjects, been told I don’t have the aptitude for IT, been told I am slow, been told ‘You don’t have it in you to work with this project’ …

But I also have passed my B Tech, gotten through Infosys, found another job in the US and left Infosys while I had just been there 3 months, later worked with the biggest Investment Bank in the US, was appreciated for developing a new, complex piece of software and more…

Although chronically shy of girls once, I did manage to get comfortable with them. I was turned down by quite a few, botched up things with many. Kept trying. I had almost lost faith that I could ever be in a meaningful relationship but I continued. Finally, I found a fabulous partner in Jyoti.

I don’t consider myself good at this or bad at that. Whatever I have done, is because I kept trying to do it, and that’s that.

I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed: and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I fail and keep trying. –Tom Hopkins

2 Comments

  • J. Boblett
    September 13, 2011 - 10:18 pm | Permalink

    If a problem can be solved, there is no need to worry.
    If the problem can’t be solved, worrying will do no good.
    Dali Lama

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