We have been talking a bit about fortitude or strengthening ourselves to handle what gets thrown at us.

What if you have taken the steps to fortify yourself, but you are still feeling a little overwhelmed?

You have probably used the words overwhelmed and underwhelmed. They are opposites. The mere fact that these words describe a spectrum implies that there might be a state of being perfectly whelmed.

I began wondering if there is such a word so I looked it up.

Basically the definition of whelmed has to do with being completely surrounded by or buried in something. The best example that I can think of is a fish in water. A fish in water is perfectly whelmed or surrounded by, buried in water.

What if you were like the fish? And whatever it is surrounding you or burying you right now is simply the water to the fish?

Would that be possible?

When we say we are overwhelmed, we are saying that we are buried, we are surrounded, but to the fish who is surrounded by the water, it simply is what it is.

Today, the world is dealing with the global COVID-9 pandemic. We are all completely surrounded by and buried in this pandemic.

When we say we are overwhelmed, we are attaching emotional energy to the thing that we are completely surrounded by or buried in.

Fish don't do that. They don't look at the water and say, “Oh, I'm completely surrounded by this water.' No. They simply exist within it.

That gives us some clues as to what we might be able to do when we feel overwhelmed. I would invite you to consider that whatever it is that you are completely surrounded by or buried under right now simply is what it is.

People ask me, “Dr. Paul, how do we stay positive during these challenging times?”

Guess what? These times are neutral times.

I get that there are challenges. There were challenges before COVID-19.
This simply is what it is. And it's no more challenging than some other times in history.

When we label our experiences as challenging or overwhelming, we have just attached emotional, anxious energy to what it is.

Picture for a moment letting go of that. Like the fish simply exist in the water.

Swim in it.

And don’t label it challenging or overwhelming, it simply is what it is.
While you are swimming away, you may ask yourself, OK, now what am I going to do given the context?

Let’s say there is a global pandemic and you don’t have a mask. That is fine, but you want to go to a store that requires everyone to wear a mask.

What are you going to do?

Get a mask, make something, deal with it.

When a situation arises and you want to go to feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself, is this something that should overwhelm me? No, detach the emotional connection.

I say this to my clients often, “Until you see it as a choice, it's not.” See it as a choice and then use that powerful mind of yours to take it in a direction that might serve you better. You've got this.

You are you perfectly whelmed swimming in life.

Dr. Paul

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Dr. Paul,

    Wow! This was very interesting & enlightening for me! So much so that I quoted you on FB…like me, I have a lot of family & friends who are struggling with life, not just because of CO-VID, but for decades with depression! About a month ago I really needed something good to focus on…I am single mother, my mother lives with me, we were both laid off because of CO-VID, & I really do not have any friends or a life. I take care of my 9 year old son & that is it. So, I was very depressed & had to change something. Anyway, somehow that new good became fish, specially a Red Blood Parrot. I happened upon a GREAT cheap deal on Marketplace for a 20 gallon tank. Due to misinformation & the lack of research on my part, after I got it set up, I found out it was not large enough for the 1 fish I was wanted so desperately. I felt like I was kicked backwards off that depressive mountain I continue to climb! Because larger tanks are so expensive & money is tight, plus my mom’s disappointment & disapproval, I knew better than to get a bigger tank. However, I just could not get over not being able to have the 1 thing I really felt I needed even though I knew it was more of a want…a distraction from my depression. I felt so stupid because I was that much more depressed over a $20 fish. It was crazy…I know & to make it worse I had joined a FB Blood Parrot group! On an impulse, while in a pet store, I purchased a 38 gallon tank that was the display on sale with all the stuff & a stand! It seemed meant to be for me to have my blood parrot after all! It has taken time to set the tank up, get the starter fish, & wait. Finally this weekend, my blood parrot I ordered will be here for me to pick up! I am so excited & it truly has given me joy, as well as my other fish in both tanks! I do not have near the blue days I was having. I love to just sit back on my bed, watch my fish, & check out my Blood Parrot group on FB! It is such stress reliever to feed them, clean the tank, talk to them, etc!!!! Now, after reading your words, I will look at them & my life differently…not overwhelmed, but just swimming with the “fishies” day to day in life…it is what it is!!! THANK YOU Dr Paul!!!!! Sincerely, Tonya

    • Cyndi Baker says:

      I had to look that fish up! Glad you are swimming with the fishes and are “perfectly whelmed”. You got this!