Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Naming "Too-Muchness"

In an email conversation with a friend this morning, she mentioned the phrase "too-muchness" and to me it was like ringing a bell. What a powerful name for something many of us can identify with. Especially if you work in the helping professions--or you in any way invest your energies in trying to make the world a better place--you can be overwhelmed with a sense of "too-muchness" that says, "There's too much to do; what can one person accomplish? Look how big this problem is! There are too many people who need me..."

What do we do when we face a sense of "too-muchness"? Do we see ourselves as small grasshoppers standing before giants? If so, we're in good company (remember the scouts Moses sent into the promised land?). Do we run away and try to forget the problem? We might find ourselves in a whale's belly, doing some deep thinking with rotting fish, like Jonah. Or do we turn to an inexhaustible source for help, light, and protection--like Job, David, Jesus, Mohammed, Rumi, and countless untold others?

This reminds me of Karen Horney's work about whether we move toward people, move against people, or move away from people as a coping strategy. What do you do with too-muchness? I think my reactive instinct has been to go aloof (move away), but I'm gradually learning to stay in the moment and ask instead, "Hmmm...what is this too-muchness showing up to teach me?"

Whatever it is, if it's here, I must be ready for it. :)


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