In early childhood, our ability to pick up on social cues is dependent upon the degree to which we devote our attention to noticing these cues. When an environment full of stimulation and often confusing information is thrust upon us, we tend to focus on that which is most urgent and pressing. If attention is limited, some things will go unnoticed. If our ability to filter out extraneous stimuli is lacking, we assign equal importance to everything that gets through, making it impossible to prioritize and process information.
When you have a lot of important things to do, it may seem impossible to prioritize. In fact, when everything on your list is a high priority, you may feel paralyzed, unable to make the choice of what to tackle first. This, of course, feels very bad indeed. So many tasks to check off that list, but no progress made.
Microsoft Word provides me with four definitions of the word overwhelm: 1. overpower somebody emotionally, 2. provide somebody with a huge amount, 3. overcome somebody physically, and 4. surge over somebody or something. A quick online search reveals the original meaning, dating back to the 14th century, was “to turn upside down, to overthrow,” which I much prefer, as it implies conquest and action.
It takes time and effort to stay in touch with friends. When every day is a race to keep up with everything you have to do, getting around to the things you should do seems to happen rarely. Many of us could spend every minute of every day putting out fires, juggling too many balls and dancing as fast as we can.