Do you ever experience feelings of overwhelm?

Overwhelm is a sentiment that many of us can relate to, and a topic that arose during our recent community live event. We often attribute this stress to our jobs, our relationships and other external factors. Yet one of the most underestimated culprits of stress is the inner turmoil that arises when we ignore our core values and act out of alignment with our true selves.

Warning signals that lead to overwhelm

In the fast-paced world we live in, it’s easy to lose sight of who we are at our core.

This manifests in a number of ways:

Lack of Authenticity

We put on masks when we make choices that don’t align with our values. This results in feeling like something is amiss.

The truth is, that living in a way that contradicts our values can be incredibly taxing. We’re constantly pretending to be someone we’re not, and that disconnect between who we are and who we’re pretending to be is emotionally exhausting.

Conflict and Inner Turmoil

Going against our values triggers internal conflicts, like a battle between what we believe in and what we’re doing. This inner turmoil can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, or a pervasive sense of moral unease, all of which contribute to feelings of overwhelm and stress.

Loss of Purpose

Our values are closely tied to our sense of purpose in life. When we act in opposition to our values, we risk losing our direction and meaning, which can result in feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, and, inevitably, more stress.


Our values shape our relationships. Ignoring our values can lead to strained connections with others, misunderstandings, and a profound sense of isolation, all of which again contribute to feelings of overwhelm.

Energy Drain

I know from personal experience that the energy required to maintain a facade and live contrary to our values is huge. This leaves us with little energy for self-care and personal growth, which, over time, can lead to burnout.

Diminished Resilience

In essence, ignoring our values diminishes our resilience in the face of life’s challenges. When we live in harmony with our values, we often find greater strength to weather the storms. Ignoring our values weakens this resilience, making us more vulnerable to stressors.

Awareness is the key

Whilst the evidence is apparent that to lead fulfilling lives, we need to be authentic and live by our values, many of us are unaware of what our values are! We’ve never stopped to think about what’s important to us.

When we don’t know what we value, we give our power away and live in accordance with other people’s demands.

So instead, how do we create a healthy and authentic life of choice?

What can we do to reduce overwhelm and stress caused by ignoring our values?

Here are some practical ideas that have worked for me…

  1. Take time for self-reflection. Get to know yourself and what’s important to you. Identify your core values and think about whether your actions align with them.
  2. If you discover that you’ve been neglecting your values, don’t be afraid to make positive changes in your life. It might involve reevaluating your priorities, setting boundaries, or making significant life adjustments.
  3. Surround yourself with people who share your values or who support your efforts to live in alignment with them. Engaging with like-minded individuals can help reduce the sense of isolation and provide emotional support.
  4. Practice mindfulness techniques to stay connected to your values and make conscious decisions that align with them. Regular mindfulness practice can reduce the internal conflict that leads to stress.


In closing, overwhelm and stress doesn’t have to be constant. By honouring your values and living authentically, you can reduce stress and move toward a more fulfilling and harmonious life.

Remember, you have the power to change and embrace a life that aligns with your true self.

More from essentially human

If you’re inspired to make work more human and want to explore any of the topics covered in this blog, we’d love to connect. Get in touch here or subscribe to receive inspiration, insights and news about our events…

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