Can You Recognize Overwhelm…before it happens?

AAaaagh! Stop! Just. stop.

Have you been there? Of course you have; me too. That moment when you are overwhelmed with…whatever overwhelms you. For me, Carol, sensory input can sneak up on me. I become so engage in what is being said that I can overload sometimes before I am aware it is approaching. When overwhelm occurs I tend to be less gracious. If I’m honest, I’d have to say that I can be downright cutting—that’s not my heart value. I do not value ripping someone up; I’d much rather be helpful.

The only way Chris or I have found to stay in a loving, relational spot is to recognize the cues that we are approaching overwhelmed and disengage. This one is especially sneaky for me. My husband and I can be enjoying an animated conversation when I suddenly realize that I understood each individual word he said but when they were put together into the sentence he just made I had no idea what he was talking about. That is my overwhelmed signal. I have to say something right then before I throw a relational circuit breaker.

Maybe it was too many words. Maybe I was physically tired. Maybe my spirit was busy picking up pain around us…or the Lord had called me to intercession and my mind missed the call but my spirit didn’t. It was busy interceding while my mind was trying to listen to my husband—aaagh! Too much! Overload! And I throw that relational circuit breaker.

The overwhelmed feeling could be caused by any combination of things but the important thing is to recognize it BEFORE the relational circuit is blown. At this point you use relational brain skill #9 and take a breather—a time out. The lack of comprehension  is my cue to disengage.

When you have had time to catch your breath and the “go away” signals have subsided then it is time to activate skill #15 and practice being quietly interactive. Given the breather, the mental stimulation subsides and I can re-engage at a lower intensity and comprehend once again.

As parents you do this intuitively with your children. When their signals of approaching overwhelm were ignored or not recognized, they throw a tantrum to bring it to your attention. You know talking is not going to help; their thinking brain is offline! You wait, and as emotion subsides you can cuddle; praying silently you gently rock and begin to talk. They can hear you now—this is being quietly interactive.

You learn these and other skills at Thrive Training. You will learn not only your own overwhelm cues, but those of your bonded partner. You will learn the ways in which you overwhelm others and what to do to back down the intensity, the emotional, mental and spiritual stimulation without throwing that relational circuit breaker.

They call this “training” for a special reason. When you learn you pack facts and concepts into your head. Sometimes those facts find their way to your heart and influence your actions. But training is practice and practice to develop reflexes that you don’t have to think about. For a pianist or a runner it is called developing muscle memory. Reflexes are those automatic knee jerk reactions. You can train your brain to respond to little cues that can be easily missed.

Imagine how helpful it would be in your marriage and family as well as your ministry to know when you or others are approaching the “blow mark!” The rewards of training in the ability to recognize the cues are joy in relationship and effective leadership in ministry. If you would like to learn all 19 relational brain skills or fill in the ones you’ve missed and transform you life, marriage, family and ministry come to Thrive Training.

5-day Training (Tracks I-III)

Date: July 14th – 18th, 2014                                                     Date: March 24th – 28th, 2014
Holiday Inn, East Peoria, IL. USA
Registration: Is now open!
Click here to register.                      Find Out More

Hope to see you there!

Chris & Carol,

Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                  


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