Overwhelming Feelings

Focusing on Overwhelming Feelings

Sheffield Central Library Focusing Sessions
©David Garlovsky, November 2018 – ©David Garlovsky,


I devised this exercise to explore for when may arise a sense of being overwhelmed in relation to another person(s) or situation.1

New pre-step one: listen to each other on what ever is on your mind. If you are on your own do your best to find someone to listen to you in person or on the phone.


  • Take a moment to relax. Get comfortable — feel the weight of your body being fully supported by the chair — loosen any clothing that is too tight.
  • Close your eyes and take a minute or two to bring your attention within your body, around the chest and heart area.
  • Take as much time as you need. As we go through the steps if at any point you feel you need more time raise your hand.

STEP TWO. If you are willing think of a situation when you experienced (what you might consider) as an overwhelming sense, or an uncomfortable sense or when you feel something has gone wrong – in relation to a person or a situation. What ever arises pay attention to and receive any slight felt bodily sense that comes with that this sense of overwhelming, being uncomfortable or when something goes wrong.

(Note: What may arise is a number of situations or persons and that is ok! You may wish to create a list in your mind or write the list down. Then settle on one to follow now.

If you need you may need to place the list some distance away from you and far enough away so that you feel relatively comfortable e.g. you may need to place the list on a train or if you have written the list down, fold into a paper airplane and let it fly away. Be careful not to include in list what you have chosen.

STEP THREE. Now allow to arise the “felt meaning” or of “this “whole thing” that you have chosen, as a vague, preverbal sensing within – a murky discomfort of it (that can allow you to go deeper) -– accept that it is ok – that it is an unclear body sense of the one you have chosen. Stay in touch with this. Go to any edge of ‘this’ that you don’t know. Sense it all freshly

STEP FOUR. Again, see if you can locate the centre of the sensation or group of sensations within your body, maybe around the heart and chest area or anywhere else in your body that draws your attention. WAIT.

STEP FIVE. Ask yourself while paying attention to what is it about this that feels so overwhelming to you? Be certain that anything that the answer arises from the felt sense.

STEP SIX. Be aware of an image, word, phrase, or sound or bodily discomfort that arises as you pay attention to the felt meaning.centre of the sensation

STEP SEVEN. If a word or image does arise check to see if it resonates with the bodily sense. Does it match?

STEP EIGHT. Does this overwhelming experience resonate with some other experiences? WAIT -– Just experience wWhat arises?

STEP NINE. Don’t work on it but do whatever you need to do to make a friendly nurturing space for what has arisen. Be certain to protect it from critical voices within that may interrupt, that might keep you for making that space.

STEP TEN. Ask yourself, “What is so important about this”?
Or “what is the worst or most difficult of this”? WAIT QUIETLY for the “feel of it all” to emerge within your body – just wait to be with what is now present that arises from the felt sense.

STEP ELEVEN. Now ask what would it feel like if it were all OK? Or can I accept it as it is right now? (You may not yet accept it now. Is there anything in the way of that happening?) Put what comes into that nurturing space you have created.

STEP TWELVE. Welcome what comes and be willing to accept it spoke. See if you can consider that It is only one small step to resolve what you are focusing on, not the last. Even though you might feel it is not be possible to ever each a resolution. Can you accept this is the start of a process and not necessarily an immediate resolution?

STEP THIRTEEN. Ask what is needed now to finish? WAIT! Receive what comes to answer that arises from the felt sense so you can leave it and find a way to come back to it.

STEP FOURTEEN. Do what ever you need to do so you do not feel left hanging in any way.

STEP FIFTEEN. Find a way so you can come back to this later.

STEP SIXTEEN. At the end of this exercise consider situations that are rewarding and pleasing interpersonally and absorb those good vibes.


1 It seems some people are so caught up in their own way of doing things that they can’t be responsive to reasonable requests. When we experience this behaviour, especially when all communication ceases, one may have a sense of feeling overwhelmed may arise in relation to a situation or a person e.g. anger, rejection, powerless, injustice, being vulnerable; and in relation to situations: shame, bereavement, being scapegoated, abuse, sadness, joy, and….