Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A State of Being Overwhelmed with Work and Emotion

I feel overwhelmed and realize my limits when doing something which I am incapable of doing. – Sonia-

A feeling of being overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed encompasses many emotions including the typical feelings of despair and anxiety. These participants described being physically overwhelmed (with work) while at the same time, their minds were filled to capacity with a feeling of having nowhere to turn. Anger and resentment set in quickly when overwhelmed feelings came to the forefront. All in all, persons feeling overwhelmed claim to feel that there is nowhere to turn; nowhere to achieve a productive or rewarding sense of self-worth.

The word “overwhelmed” came into play quite frequently during these interviews. Some of the participants in this study stressed their feelings of being overwhelmed and at the same time reported feeling anger and sadness along with being overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed was always reported as being associated with other types of pain, as well. No research in the literature about being overwhelmed was found. The situation of being overwhelmed is much too broad of a topic to reference. The situation does not stand alone, especially as evidenced in these participants’ interviews.

Summing up, being overwhelmed encompasses two basic situations: Overwhelmed with responsibility and overwhelmed with emotion. Not all participants who felt overwhelmed were overwhelmed with responsibility. They were all however, overwhelmed with emotion in their own way. Above all, becoming overwhelmed along with being lonely made coping even more difficult.

The feeling of helplessness occurs because of the inability to handle the emotion of living alone. –Andrew-

A feeling of being helpless. My anecdotal experience in clinical settings suggests that the transition to helplessness from feeling overwhelmed involves retreat when the psyche can no longer contain anxiety or fear anymore. Rubenstein & Shaver (1982) have put being helpless as one factor of feeling lonely that involves desperation. The word “helplessness” was used by study participants in a manner reminiscent of Von Witzleben (1958) who distinguished between two types of loneliness, one accompanied by loss of an object in the real world, and the other the “loneliness of one’s self,” (the feeling of being alone and helpless in this world). This latter type of loneliness, which is commonly experienced, is what he terms primary loneliness. For him, it was independent of the loss of an object. Loneliness can include an experience of anxiety, which is vague and pervasive, in which one feels panicked and helpless. One does not know how to cope with it and fears that it may overwhelm one (Gaev, 1976).

Taking this concept to the next step, the overwhelmed participants were all grounded in one commonality of emotion. They all tended to agree that loneliness set in only after their own filled psyches resisted any more responsibilities. But, the situation that changed them from overwhelmed to helpless was only felt because, during attempts, they could not devise a plan to rectify their overwhelming feelings. Therefore, “no plan” then led to the feeling of helplessness because they finally realized that not only could they not achieve success in their endeavors, but that only solution was to seek the help of others, enabling the frustration, the guilt, and the fear to become the main characteristics of helplessness.

Extract taken from Doctoral Dissertation, Abas 2007.

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