When Ordinary Life Spins Out of Control

Evaluate your options when life's disruptions leave you feeling overwhelmed.

Posted Apr 12, 2019

Source: /Pixabay

Weather. Illness. An emergency.

How easily life can feel like it has spun out of control! The intention is present. A plan has been defined. Necessary pieces have been put into place. Tickets were purchased or reservations confirmed, space on the calendar assigned, priorities clear. All of it was meditated into consciousness for good measure. 

And then. You encounter an accident along your route. The supermarket lacks a key ingredient for the dinner party you were planning. A late winter snowstorm closes schools and causes traffic delays. An illness destroys your capacity to speak or siphons off energy needed to get out of bed. A phone call from a neighbor asks if you can help out when her car won’t start, and she has an important job interview in half an hour. A critical contact cancels your long-awaited interview after you rearranged your morning for the third time to accommodate her. Or it is simply your spouse, raging that you must have misplaced his car keys and he needs to leave now.

Everything you intended to do on your Monday morning has been systematically dislodged and moving around pieces of your puzzle has finally exhausted your energy. Is it time to go back to bed?

Not really. But it is time to step back, take some deep breaths, or, better yet, twenty minutes of meditation, and clear the neural circuits that are on Overwhelm. No, you have not managed to “accomplish” a single thing all morning and, indeed, your week has been thrown into disarray. 


  1. Can you delegate? Perhaps someone else can do the marketing, make those phone calls, take charge of social plans.
  2. Can you delete? Is it essential that you check in right now on a childhood friend gone missing for thirty years and recently found on Facebook? Can you skip doing laundry for another week? Can you try a holiday dinner without your home-baked cake (and who needs the calories anyway?)
  3. Can you delay or at least reprioritize? Evaluate the urgency of a demand. Getting an x-ray of that thumb that may be broken may warrant bumping the meeting among friends to another time. Dropping off a souvenir may make more sense when you are going to be in the neighborhood for a different purpose on another day.
  4.  Can you extend? Is the deadline firm? Sometimes the calendar announces an event that requires so much coordination with others that moving it is impossible. Commencement comes on its assigned day. The state requires your car inspection before the end of a specific month. But can you run a more optional gathering out a bit longer into another day or week? Allow another month before you shop for new sneakers? Give yourself another year to finish your draft?
  5. Can you recharge? Often taking time off from a concentrated effort allows you to revise your perspective and renew your energy. We do become depleted from efforts exerted over an extended period. Your neurons become fried and need time to regenerate; your attention begins to wander or your focus to fracture. Taking time to meditate, exercise, nap, do something radically different for a while can allow you to recharge. Just be sure that you are engaged in something that expands your energy rather than contracting it even more.
  6. /Pixabay
    Source: /Pixabay
    Can you replace? You dribbled orange juice onto your blouse; can you wear something else to the meeting? Your favorite helper calls in sick; can you call in another assistant or even ask your helper to nominate someone else? Can you swap out a dinner-and-theater plan in the city with a pizza-and-a-movie option close to home?
  7. Can you find a hidden opportunity? Perhaps the storm offers an opportunity to read the book you have been wanting to open, to cook up a satisfying meal (maybe even in a double batch so that you can freeze part of it for another overwhelming day), to dig into correspondence or files or neglected hygiene or housekeeping you never seem to be able to get around to.   
  8.  Can you decipher a message underlying the chaos and smile as you repeat, "Man plans, God laughs.” Distance from a demand can permit perspective to broaden. How important is the task really? Who is depending on you? Are you really so essential to its success? Why are you doing it in the first place? And the big question: What sources of meaning and joy do you have in your life? What broader message can you find in the disruption? Maybe it is time to remember the big picture and remind yourself that you are not running the show. Instead, discover how you best nourish your soul.

Copyright 2019 Roni Beth Tower