Being Stuck Threatens to Overwhelm Dream

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A few years ago I was doing research for training on personal time management. I came on a story of a guy near my home town who was dealing with overwhelm — maybe not the kind we’d expect, but his experience was relevant just the same.
The story goes that he initially bought a rat for snake food.  He felt sorry for it, though — and decided to save its life at the last minute.  The next day he went to the pet store and bought 4 more rats.

By the time the animal control responded to the neighbor’s complaints, he had nearly 1300 rats in his home. The inside of the house was destroyed. The smell was so bad many workers couldn’t go inside without masks and hazmat suits.

He was quoted as saying,

I did not set out to do this. I do acknowledge irresponsibility and there’s a case for laziness, denial, incompetence and just plain foolishness. But it was not all my fault — It was like this force of nature just overwhelmed me.

What the rat guy is saying is that his situation got so overwhelming and he didn’t know what to do to solve it.

He kept telling himself that he could handle it – he kept buying food but didn’t realize that he wasn’t keeping up with the demand. The house started to fall apart around him but he didn’t notice.  He couldn’t even smell how bad it was — and he was literally sitting in shit everyday.

But still he did nothing to change it.  It just became his new ‘norm’.

How does this relate to you following your dreams?

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed that you were stuck and couldn’t move?  Right in the middle of your dream progress with still so many steps and paths to take — right there in front of you – and still, you do nothing?

Logic says that shouldn’t happen — cause overwhelm is not a thing – it’s an outcome.

Does that make sense? It’s not like you can add it to the grocery list –

I’m going to the store for milk, bread and more overwhelm.

Overwhelm happens because we create it for ourselves. We create it:

  • By saying yes to too many things
  • By remaining strategically disorganized
  • By underestimating how long something will take to accomplish
  • Because we are in a comfort zone and have no way to stop it – unless we force ourselves to change

Are you nodding your head yes like I did?

There are a few kinds of overwhelm that can impact your dream progress:

Physical overwhelm —happens when you are overpowered or engulfed physically. You are tired and weak, your body isn’t able to rise up to defend or support you. You know you are physically overwhelmed when mental and emotional faculties are clear, you just can’t take any effective physical action.

Mental overwhelm — happens when you are trying to use your mind to gather, process and store information pertaining to all of your personal and business commitments. You may be mentally overwhelmed if you are continually forgetful, not sleeping because your mind won’t relax, and have put off cleaning out or organizing your home, office and/or dream workspace.

Emotional overwhelm — happens when your defenses are already down, and one of two things will occur:  You will be constantly emotional, cry easily, over react and have extreme emotions to both positive and negative experiences;  OR, You will be constantly UN-emotional, have little or no reaction to events, and to others, you will appear detached,  flat and withdrawn.

If you find yourself in any kind of overwhelm – physical, mental or emotional – the goal is to get unstuck by figuring out the next step, and then take that next step ONLY.

Knowing what to do next in any overwhelm situation is essential.

  • For physical overwhelm, simply take a break from dreaming.  Depending on how deep the overwhelm is, you will know if you need an hour, a week or more.  Resting the body is the key here.
  • For mental overwhelm, use a best practice by author Brian Tracy

1)  set priorities and
2)  concentrate single-mindedly on one thing at a time.  Pick one dream project at a time, and break it down in to smaller pieces until you feel you can manage it.

  • For emotional overwhelm, spend some quiet time reflecting on the source of your feelings.  Write out a few paragraphs, and reflect back on them tomorrow.  You will be surprised at the amount of objectivity a good night’s sleep will bring.

Until next photo,


Remy’s dream is creating opportunities for photography showings and public displays of her work.

  • Terrific post Remy and holy cow, what a story! Amazing what we can become accustomed to (scary, right?). I love your suggestions for dealing with overwhelm, and how you categorize it. Makes tons of sense.

    Love you and am inspired by YOU! <3

  • It’s the mental overload that gets me – in fact, I wonder if all overload is really mental at its roots! I’ve learned to recognize the symptoms (the not sleeping is a dead giveaway) and my next step is to write it all down in my trusty notebook. As David Allen says, putting it someplace where your brain can trust you’re going to run across it again when you need it is a great antidote.

    The other next step is to give up reading book reviews for at least two weeks, and to whittle down to no more than 3 books underway at once. TOO MANY IDEAS!!!

    great post, Remy; thanks for the very fond memory ;>)

    • Remy, Photographer & CEO of Cornerstone Creative

      Jayne it was my favorite training ever!

  • Such a great post and advice Remy.

    I see a lot of emotional overwhelm as women approach menopause. It starts at about age 38, and grows stronger through their 40s and hopefully women get a handle on it by their early 50s. It’s a type of thinking where what they are “emotionally” thinking is NOT correct, and how they react to what they are incorrectly emotionally thinking. It’s a lot of outward projection instead of inward reflection — not realizing their hormones are out of whack. It can induce a type of “everyone is out to get me” and “why does this happen to me” type thinking

    These are also the years where women need to get better sleep and have more easy-going entertainment that feeds their soul — cutting down on stress wherever possible — and meditating to get those crazy emotions under control.

    Along with seeing a doctor!

    I’m going to go relax right now . . .


    • Remy, Photographer & CEO of Cornerstone Creative

      Good to relax – you’ve been quite overwhelmed lately! thanks for the note. xox Rem