In this podcast I explain the five principles of divorce success and how to move from Victim into Victor and outline the second Philosophy of Divorce – Overwhelm
The Definition of Overwhelm is when something is too much to deal with.
The signs you are in Overwhelm consist of the following:
- Struggle to make decisions
- Completely frozen with inaction
- Have a lack of energy and the ability to see your future.
I outline the dangers of staying in overwhelm and not moving forward and then the steps you can implement to help you move forward.
My book: The Jelly Bean Jar – Empowering Independence through Divorce
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Hello and welcome back to the Divorce Angel Podcast. This is Tanya Somerton, your host, and thank you for being with me here once again. Last week’s podcast was the first stage of what I call my philosophy of divorce. I have five principles for my clients through divorce successful. Last week, we spoke about the first principle which is how did I find myself here and you feel like a victim. If you’ve listened to that, you might have asked yourself some of those questions. As you would have got by the end of it, no matter who you are, at some stage, every one of us has been a victim. Whether we like it or not, we have been a victim. It’s not a tag that some people like to use but it’s something that we all have gone through and it’s a stage that we need to move on from.
In today’s podcast, I’m going to talk about the second stage, which is “Overwhelm.” Overwhelm is awful. I’m sure if you’re there now or you’re about to go there, it is– Well, as the definition says. It is something when we just can’t deal with it when everything is just too much. At the overwhelm stage within my philosophy, it’s when I can’t do this. It’s all so hard. We all need to get to this stage. It’s imperative. We need to get to this overwhelm stage.
The signs that you are in overwhelm is when you’re struggling to make a decision. Even the simplest decision such as “What are we going to have for dinner? What am I going to wear today? Will I put on makeup or why not put on makeup? Will I have a glass of wine or a glass of beer? What is it that I am going to be deciding?” because decisions just seem so hard.
The next part is we’re completely frozen with inaction. That sort of relates back to the decision part, but inaction is where we are just frozen and we’re not moving anywhere. Day after day after day, we just don’t seem to be going anywhere and I often describe this as swimming in Play-Doh.
The last part is having a lack of energy and just the ability to see the future. Of course, that becomes natural because when you think about what we’re going through, we’re mourning. Right now, if you are at this stage of overwhelm, you are mourning. You’re mourning your relationship, you’re mourning your future, you’re mourning the most incredible life that you probably, or possibly thought was going to happen.
The other thing that happens at this stage, depending on how old you are– Here in Australia, the average age of a woman getting divorced is 42, and a man is 45. I know that’s pretty similar around the world so it doesn’t matter where you are, the ages will be pretty similar. Let’s say you’re 45. If you’re 45 years old, the other thing that could really– You could be struggling with would be the fact of, “I am this age and here I am having to start again.” and that’s the whole inability to be able to see your future because it just becomes so overwhelming that you’ve got to start again.
Let’s go through each of these is a little bit more data. Struggling to make decisions. This is completely and utterly normal because nothing is the same. Every decision you previously made has led you to where you are right now. You may be second guessing everything. You don’t know who to trust, you don’t know what to do next, and how would this affect others, and everyday decisions are just too hard to make. The simplest things like, what to have for dinner and how to feed the children, and whether to get out of bed in the morning, and the option to ring in sick or just say, “I’m not coming because it’s all too much.” The basics become just awful. Like just to think about the simplest things become too much, and it’s understandable. If you are at this stage, do not be hard on yourself.
The next bit is being completely frozen with inaction. Firstly, what is inaction? It’s the inability to decide. For me, I remember this stage as being simply the kids’ Play-Doh. I felt like I was moving my arms but I just wasn’t even– I was getting nowhere. I wasn’t moving one little bit further from where I was. When everything has a consequence, and it required energy that you simply don’t possess, it’s just easy to do nothing. Our mind tells us if we do nothing, we can’t get into any trouble or get hurt anymore, right? This is okay for a short period of time but as we go through the stages, by staying here too long can be really detrimental to future. It is at this stage that we look for other things to make us feel good, and it’s at this stage that you might be looking for the chocolate or the ice cream or the alcohol or any other substance or something else to make you feel good. You are just simply looking for something to make you feel better, whatever that is.
The next part was having a lack of energy and the inability to see your future. This just makes everything so hard because let’s be honest, sadness is exhausting. The energy it takes to pretend as well, that everything’s okay and put a smile on your face, can sometimes take more energy than you have just to prevent the tears from running down you face or people looking in your eyes and can say that things aren’t okay but you don’t want anyone to worry and you continually say you’re okay even when you’re not. You find yourself in this position because you just can’t see the future. A simple way to describe this would be– Imagine that you’ve got the most amazing view outside your window and when you look, you can’t see the view. All you can see the smears and the dirt on the glass so the view means nothing because standing the amazing view and you is this dirty window and that’s what it’s like. That’s what overwhelm feels like. You know what? I have to be honest, this is totally okay. You have every right to feel this way.
The dangers of staying in overwhelm are concerning and I don’t want anyone to stay there. It’s okay for us to travel down this road and go through this overwhelm for a period of time, but we need to keep moving forward. We can’t stay here because life becomes so hard that things start to snowball. If we stay here, who knows, the kids might start to say, “Look, I’d prefer to be with my mom/dad because it’s unhappy here.” or you might stop going to work and choose to have a sick day or turn up to work and just not be performing your job, and who knows, you might lose your job.
I had a client the other day actually say to me she was so lucky that she owned her own business because for the last 18 months, she’s been missing in action. She doesn’t know where her mind’s been. This is the issue that we have if we stay in this overwhelm for longer than necessary. It has consequences, but in saying that, it’s something that we need to go through. The other issue with staying in overwhelm is your inner voice starts to make up these stories which aren’t true. Because of your unhappiness, your mind is telling you thing that aren’t true but you start to believe them and then that just keeps you low, it keeps you down– And don’t want to stay there.
The major issue with staying overwhelm too long is that it eventually someone will step in and take over. Whether that’s your family, whether that is the universe, and what I mean by that, and I’ve witnessed this in my own life, that if I don’t take steps to make something better, for some reason, out of nowhere, something will happen and it forces me to have to take action steps. For you, that could be a letter from your spouse’s lawyers, it could be something that they do, it could be that, all of a sudden, the house is forced to be sold, it could be a letter to say, “Your house has been repossessed.” God forbid. Look, I don’t know, but that’s the problem when we stay in this overwhelm mode.
The steps to address this are that you need to look around and ask yourself what is the most important thing for you right now. The second question is how do you take back control. This question, how do you take back control, is very, very important. If you don’t want to take back control, it might be something else that needs to be considered and I want you, right now, to ring up and make an appointment to go and see your doctor. I want you to promise that if you do not want to take back control, you will go and see your doctor, because sadness has consequences. Overwhelm has consequences.
It could be a combination of other factors so you need to go and get the help from your professional. Whether it’s a counselor or a therapist, whether you have a chemical imbalance in your body and some medicine might be able to help. I’m not a doctor, I don’t even pretend to be a doctor, but I want to make sure, right now, for a duty of care, that you can come back and go, “Right, I’ve been to the doctor. I’ve had some tests and they say I’m okay.” If they’re saying you’re okay, then we can help you get through the next stages.
For me, to actually address overwhelm, I require order in my life. I’ve always been like that. Since a little girl, I need to know that everything has a place and everything is in order. When I was going through this stage, the last thing I wanted to do was the dishes, clean the house, pay the bills, do the gardening. I just didn’t want to do it. I’d prefer to just sit around and watch TV and that was pretty much it. But my problems becomes that when I look then around my environment and if it’s untidy, it makes my brain feel untidy. It makes– I get a tightness in my chest because I know there’s stuff that has to get done.
What I did at this particular stage, because if you can imagine, my house was a mess. Bed hadn’t been made, clothes on the floor, bathroom is untidy, kitchen hadn’t been clean, the kids had stuff hadn’t brought washing in and hadn’t folded it up. My house was a mess and I don’t live like that. For me, personally, this is how I knew I had to take steps to get back at above on my own so I started a little bit every day. I just would make sure that we cleaned up and got back into the routine that I used to be back into. We put the dishes in the dishwasher when we finished, and we just took simple steps like that.
For you, it might be coming home from dinner and– Oh, sorry. Coming home from work and just not able to cook dinner. A consequence of your overwhelm is that you’re eating a lot of takeaway and because of that, a consequence is that you’re putting on weight and all of a sudden, you feel unloved and you don’t feel sexy anymore because all of a sudden, you are completely out of hand and you might be eating chocolate and ice cream and this has got consequences.
Your first steps might be that on the weekend, you need to cook food so that you can put it in the freezer or you have some way of addressing your calorie intake. It could just be preventing a little glass of wine. Whatever it is. You need to pick and choose what those things are but you need to start somewhere. Your overwhelm could be that you just simply can’t get up and go to work, it could be you can’t even face what’s going on at work. But have you had a conversation with the? Have you let them know what’s going on in your personal life? Are they aware that you’re really struggling at the moment and you need help? Do your family know? Are you able to tell them?
Another part of overwhelm is when we have actually separated from our ex and we’re in the workplace and we just can’t deal with the questions. We just don’t want people to ask us what is going on. I remember when I was at work, I didn’t take my wedding ring off for three months after we had separated because I just did not– Even though in my mind our marriage was over, I did not want people to ask me what was going on, I didn’t want people to ask me out, I didn’t want to be going out with friends or for people to feel sorry for me so I chose to continue to wear my wedding ring until I was strong enough to tell them what was going on. It could be the same thing for you.
As you can see, this is natural. This is something that you need to go through and it’s something that we need to address. But if you’re in this overwhelm stage, look around. What is most important to you that you could put little steps in place? Just simple little things every day that could make a difference. So rather than sitting on the couch and watching the TV, could it be going for a walk. Putting some tunes on your iPhone and going for a walk just to get some fresh air and to know that life is still happening around you. The earth is still spinning, the seasons are still happening.
Once you get over the overwhelm, then you can start addressing the exterior part of that. The interior part is what’s happening for you right now in your life, so how you feel and the simple things you can do for you. That doesn’t mean your divorce or your separation. That just means your everyday life, what you’re doing right now. Once you get control of that, then you can address what’s happening in your separation or divorce. Who you need to talk to. What that looks like. How you get control. How do you get a plan in place. All of those things.
The next step. In my philosophy of divorce, the next step, or step three of the principals of divorce success is acceptance. Because we’ve moved from victim to overwhelm, and once we’ve moved from overwhelm, we’re moving to acceptance. Once we get to acceptance, it’s amazing how things start to change. So please, if you are in victim or overwhelm mode, know that you will move out of it but you have to start somewhere and it could be so bad that you just think you can’t go on, but I promise you, things will get better and they’re starting to get better every day. Everyday life will improve. You just have to take simple little steps.
Next week, we’re going to have a chat around acceptance and what you can do to move forward and be accepting of your situation. This week, I want you to show yourself some love. Be kind to yourself. Know that everything’s okay and nothing that you’re going through or how you’re feeling is abnormal. How you feel is how you feel. Someone once told me was, “How do I know that red is red? How do you know you color or your shade of red is not different to my shade of red?” If someone’s telling you you need to get over this or you need to do whatever it is to move on, don’t worry about them, just worry about yourself and do what it is that you need to do to get to where you need to go.
That’s it for this week. I love to help you get through this. If you’ve got any question or would like to know more, we help our clients get through these stages. This first two weeks, especially victim and overwhelm via a divorce roadmap. It’s a really important key to understand where you are and I have someone help you highlight these issues. If you need any help with this, please don’t hesitate to make contact. You can get me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow me on Facebook or Instagram, or you can just go to our website, www.tanyasomerton.com, and make contact there because I’d love to help you. Until next week, thanks for listening and we’ll have a chat about acceptance when we next return. Bye for now.
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