Feeling overwhelmed is a very common psychological issue, affecting up to 1 in 4 adults at some point during their lifetimes. It is “feeling completely overcome in mind or emotion,” according to Marla W. Deibler. And for many people, it is simply a part of life. Kathleen Nadeau describes this common reality:
Overwhelm results from families with two working parents managing a household and raising kids. Overwhelm results from trying to work full-time while earning a degree in our “spare time.” Overwhelm results from workplace environments that keep piling on expectations with little regard for whether those expectations can be met within a 40-hour week. Overwhelm results from being a single parent trying to run a household and hold down a full time job. Overwhelm results from being “on” 24/7 through mobile phones, social media and the availability of movies and TV series on demand.
Good boundaries protect us from our own tendency to sacrifice ourselves for other people. When we are protecting ourselves, when we have clear boundaries, we don’t get hurt as much and the hurts we do experience are less painful.
The truth is, picking up other people’s emotions always does more harm than help. It’s not like we take their burden and carry it for them. They have that sorrow for a reason. We call it a weight on their shoulders, but it’s more like the leaves on a tree. It comes from the roots inside of them. So when we take those leaves off and put that weight on our shoulders, they just grow more leaves on the tree. So now both of us are carrying that sorrow. In other words, by taking on their sorrow, we didn’t cut it in half – we’ve essentially doubled it!
Our brains are vitally important. As the epicenter of our nervous system, the brain is generally recognized as the controlling organ of our bodies and our lives. We don’t need a medical degree to understand that our brains are necessary to our very existence.
The brain is the body’s mainframe computer. It processes messages from every system and organ in the body. It controls the hormonal system and affects our emotions. In it lies the foundation of our intelligence. The brain is composed of two hemispheres which control our right and left sides, but which also control our verbal, logical self (left) and our creative, imaginative self (right).
When disconnected, our brains and our hearts work against each other, paralyzing us and keeping us from the life that we long to have. However, when our heart-brain connection is functioning properly, its influence is extensive and its power in our lives is immeasurable.
The first way that this powerful influence of the heart-brain connection can be effectively harnessed is through intention. Intention is about the “purpose and awareness with which we approach [an] occasion.” Marcia Wieder defines intention as “to have in mind a purpose of plan, to direct the mind, to aim.” In other words, intention is “influencing one’s internal and external environment in a purposeful way.” It is harnessing the power of the mind and heart together to achieve even our most impossible dreams.
Our hearts have significant influence on our lives. Our emotions, while good and necessary are not absolute indicators of what we need to do. They signal what we need to do to make our lives better, but they cannot be allowed to rule the heart-brain connection. When the heart breaks its connection with the brain, we can stagnate from the flood of negative emotions that leave us feeling defeated. These emotional tsunamis can over run our lives, disrupting our balance and negating our ability to function positively and proactively.
Being overwhelmed is a primary example of a negative feeling that can be created when the heart is disconnected from the brain. One of the most common negative emotions that we will face, this feeling often results when the pressure caused by a person or situation seems too much to bear. Continue reading
A negative emotional balance that the heart can cause is a lack of satisfaction. Rather than being indecisive, in this case, you know what you want. But making your choice, and even achieving that goal, brings no pleasure. The most obvious place that this emotional negativity reveals itself is in work. Whether we like our job or not, when our hearts are divorced from our heads, our dissatisfaction with our jobs goes up. And this is currently a common problem in the American workforce.
Recent surveys show that more Americans than ever are dissatisfied with their jobs. Some are burned out or bored, while others feel that professional success has eluded them. Stress over financial well-being – which for many is synonymous with professional success – is the primary source of discontent. Indeed, when people are asked if they could have anything in the world right now, most report wanting “more money.”
The most valuable, way that the heart-brain connection can influence our development towards the full life we desire to have is through the process of self-actualization. Dunlop noted that humans are programmed to stay with a familiar reality, even if that reality is one of pain and suffering. But by utilizing the principles of self-actualization, energized by a working heart-brain connection, we can completely change our lives for the better.
Abraham Maslow who was an American psychologist that was best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, also coined the phrase self-actualization “to describe the ongoing process of fully developing your personal potential.” His hierarchy of needs described the fundamental conditions that must be met at each stage in order for us to achieve the highest levels of existence and meaning. Continue reading
The research is overwhelming that the heart and the mind are linked in ways that we are only beginning to understand. Scientists now understand that the heart not only responds to emotion, but that actually plays a vital role in determining them. By recognizing and understanding the heart’s communication network with the brain, we may be able to achieve a better self-understanding than we ever thought possible.
Like many good things in our lives, the benefits if this body of knowledge come down to the issue of trusting ourselves. We use the phrase “trust your gut,” but this expression can be more accurately translated to “listen to your heart.” If the heart is indeed a functioning brain that offers us a sense of intuition or premonition, we need to learn to accept what it tells us.
What is exciting about the new discoveries of the close connection between the heart and the mind is that we can use this knowledge to improve our mental and physical health.
Many research studies have revealed that that the risk of developing heart disease is significantly increased for people who routinely experience anger or frustration. These emotions can cause stress blood vessels to constrict, blood pressure to rise, hormone levels to increase, and the immune system to weaken. If these emotions are not handled well and continue over time, they can place a serious strain on the heart.
The heart has a long history — one that is well documented in literature and song lyrics — of allowing us to do crazy things when we are in love. These episodes of “losing myself” or not “knowing what I was thinking” have a basis in the theory that the heart rules our emotions, not our rational thought. However, what scientists are discovering is that your heart – when you allow it — reveals what you truly value and who you really are.
Neurocardiologists have discovered that the heart acts independently when it connects and sends signals to the cranial brain’s areas that regulate our emotions and our perceptions — the amygdala, thalamus, and hypothalamus