As an English junkie in high school and college, I took tons of English classes, whether about reading or writing. If you were a high school student in the 2000’s (I’m not sure if they are doing this anymore) then you know Jane Schaffer. It’s a style of writing. She talks about “chunking” concrete details with commentary. I’ve taken this theory and applied it to psychology.
How many of us have been overwhelmed ever?
Ok, good. It’s all of us.
When you have a task that you are looking at and it seems insurmountable to do, break it down into these so called chunks,
I will use laundry as an example. Doing laundry is hard. You have to put the clothes in the hamper, bring the hamper to the laundry room, fill the washer, put in soap and whatever else you use, waiting till it’s done, moving the clothes, drying them, putting them back in the hamper, and taking the hamper back upstairs. THEN you have to fold them and put them away.
I counted 11 steps to do laundry.
So here’s what I tell people who are overwhelmed with a task, whether it is laundry or a project at work—Make it more manageable. Break it down in chunks.
Okay so, maybe all of that laundry is too much to do right now. So how about we put the clothes in the hamper and bring them in the laundry room?
That’s it. Stop right there. Walk away. Then come back to it, and chunk together one of two other steps. Chunk the steps into 1-3 at a time, and then come back when you are ready to tackle the next chunk.
It kind of goes along with “seeing the forest and not the trees.” When you are overwhelmed, you are staring at the forest, all of the trees you have to cut down. When you focus your vision, on just one of two trees, suddenly the forest doesn’t seem so large.
We get overwhelmed when it seems like there is too much for us to do and we can never make it out of the ever growing list of things we have to do. That’s why we have to take it one step, or one chunk at a a time.
Start small. Baby steps. Do one step at a time. Slowly build to 2-3 steps.
This is applicable to everyone, but especially those of us who have limited spoons (those of us who are mentally and chronically ill).
Some days, I can tackle the forest. Sometimes I’m right there in the thick of things, and I’m perfectly content. Some days I have to run screaming in the opposite direction.
What you can do will change on daily basis. Accept your reality right as it is. This, right now, this moment, is your reality. Whether you like it or not, it is your reality.
If you are some super special demi-god, then these mere mortal problems are below you. But if you are human, like the rest of us, you’ve known struggle and sadness. You’ve known trauma and tragedy.
We can rise above our pasts. We can grow. We can learn coping skills for our various ailments.
But for now, just take it one chunk at a time.