Whether choking or overwhelming, both terms encapsulate the same experience. It’s that feeling of sinking so deep that paralysis takes hold. This wasn’t my first encounter with such a situation, and I am confident it won’t be my last.
I have a close relationship with both terms, which resonate with different aspects of my identity and experiences. This feeling means you’re pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. The point you make new discoveries, and growth appear. You’re learning new skills, and things will get easier with time.
The sensation of choking or overwhelming looms like an ominous presence, a constant shadow cast upon you, following your every step and tainting the light. Especially when dealing with so many new things or options for the first time.
While it is normal to feel this way when learning something new and navigating the many components involved in the learning process, the situation does not become easier over time.
The Effects of Choking or Overwhelming: Real-Life Examples
The term “choking” is often associated with sports and athletes because it’s frequently used to describe situations where athletes underperform in high-pressure situations. This is despite their skill and training. It’s a phenomenon where the stress and pressure of the moment cause the athlete to lose focus, leading to mistakes or poor performance.
On the other hand, the term “overwhelming” is more commonly used in everyday language to describe feelings of being overloaded. This can manifest in many situations, whether with work, responsibilities, emotions, or sensory input. It’s a term that most people can relate to, as everyone has likely felt overwhelmed at some point.
However, it’s important to note that choking or overwhelming terms can apply to athletes and non-athletes. Athletes can feel overwhelmed by the pressures of their sport, and non-athletes can choke under pressure in high-stakes situations. The context and the individual’s experience determine the most appropriate term.
My Current Pain Point, An Honest Reflection
I’m not seeking sympathy, as I understand that many of you may believe that my current predicament is self-inflicted. However, it all started when I decided to embark on the journey of building my own website using a top-of-the-range website template.
Before you draw any conclusions, let me explain why I chose it. The website you are currently exploring, yes, the masterpiece you’re enjoying, was initially created by developers. However, when others handle tasks for you in exchange for payment, they often need to go the extra mile.
Over time, I developed a keen eye for website design and functionality nuances. As a result, I’ve better understood SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and its impact on website rankings. Unfortunately, the Nursing Daddy (ND) website must be optimised effectively for search engines like Google. It needed the crucial elements that enhance its online visibility.
Motivated by a new creative project, I felt compelled to take control and ensure that the website met the specific needs of search engines. So, with an unwaveringly positive mindset and an overflow of enthusiasm, I embarked on this journey, believing I could achieve anything.
Let’s just say that my heart stopped beating a few moments after unpacking the template on my WordPress site. The feeling of choking or overwhelming took hold, and all the fluid in my mouth dried up when the task’s severity became apparent.
As my heart skipped a beat, a wave of unease washed over me, intensifying the choking or overwhelming feeling. It was as if time stood still, and in that frozen moment, I could feel the moisture evaporating from my mouth, leaving it parched and devoid of any semblance of saliva.
Every swallow became a struggle, and the once-familiar sensation of a moist tongue scraping against the roof of my mouth became an elusive memory. Instead, it was a physical manifestation of the magnitude of the task ahead. As if my body itself was reacting to the weight and complexity of building a website from scratch.
As an athlete, I am no stranger to the suffocating grip of choking. And as a self-proclaimed wantrepreneur, constantly pursuing new business ideas and craving success, the overwhelming sensation is a constant companion on my journey.
Fear of Failure
The choking or overwhelming feeling is rooted in fear of failure. Fear of failure is a powerful emotion that can significantly impact our behaviour and decision-making process. It is a pervasive feeling that can be triggered by various situations, especially those that involve high stakes or significant consequences.
This fear can be so overwhelming that it often leads to avoidance behaviour, where we choose not to engage in activities or tasks that we perceive as challenging or risky to avoid the possibility of failure. This is how I felt; I simply wanted to stop when I realised the job ahead of me.
The fear of failure is not just about the potential negative outcome of a situation but also about the possible negative evaluation from others and oneself. It is closely tied to our self-esteem and self-worth, and the fear of damaging these can be paralysing. This fear can lead to a cycle of self-doubt and self-criticism, further exacerbating anxiety and avoidance behaviour.
Choking in Sports
Choking in sports is a fascinating yet complex phenomenon that can best describe a sudden and significant decline in performance under pressure. For example, leading up to sprint races, my body used to shut down with the stress of expectation. It’s like a mental block that prevents me from performing at my best when it matters the most.
This was not just about losing a race but about failing to meet my expectations and capabilities due to psychological pressures.
The first aspect of choking is the overthinking process. Athletes, when under pressure, tend to become overly conscious of their actions, disrupting their performance’s automaticity. This over-analysis of every move and every decision can lead to a decrease in the fluidity and efficiency of their movements. It’s as if the mind interferes with the body’s natural ability to perform tasks ingrained through years of practice and experience.
The second aspect of choking is the high-pressure situations that trigger it. These are often critical moments in a competition where the stakes are high, and the margin for error is minimal. The anticipation of these moments can induce high stress and anxiety in athletes, further exacerbating the choking phenomenon. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy; the fear of choking under pressure can, in fact, lead to choking.
The third aspect of choking is the psychological implications it has on athletes. Choking can have a profound impact on an athlete’s confidence and self-esteem. It can lead to self-doubt, frustration, and even fear of failure. This can create a vicious cycle where the fear of choking leads to performance anxiety, increasing the likelihood of choking.
However, it’s important to note that choking does not indicate an athlete’s skill or potential. Instead, it’s a psychological hurdle many athletes face, regardless of their expertise or experience. The key to overcoming choking lies in understanding its causes, recognising its signs, and implementing effective strategies to manage it.
Steps to Overcome Choking or Overwhelming Situations
Effective strategies can be implemented to mitigate the sense of choking or overwhelming situations.
- Understanding the Situation: Recognise the signs of feeling overwhelmed or the onset of choking. Awareness is the first step towards managing the situation.
- Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce stress and anxiety.
- Positive Self-Talk: Encourage oneself with positive affirmations and statements. This can help to boost confidence and reduce negative thoughts.
- Preparation and Practice: Being well-prepared can help to reduce the fear of the unknown. Practice the task at hand until it becomes automatic.
- Seeking Support: Contact coaches, mentors, or mental health professionals for guidance and support. They can provide strategies and techniques to handle pressure situations.
Choking or Overwhelming?
Choking or ‘overwhelming are terms that describe our struggles when under pressure. Often, ‘Choking’, seen in sports, is a sudden decline in performance despite skills and training. It’s triggered by overthinking and fear of failure, disrupting smooth task execution.
Conversely, ‘overwhelming’ describes the feeling of being overloaded, leading to decreased productivity. Regardless of whether it’s choking or feeling overwhelmed, understanding the causes, recognising the signs, and implementing coping strategies are vital to managing these situations. They remind us of our limits and capacity for resilience and growth.
It’s important to note that fear of failure is only sometimes detrimental. Sometimes, it can serve as a motivator, pushing individuals to prepare thoroughly and strive for excellence. It can also be a learning opportunity, encouraging individuals to reflect on their mistakes and failures, learn from them, and develop resilience.
After experiencing that heart-stopping moment and the overwhelming realisation, it has been approximately five days since then. Initially, I was tempted to surrender and hire someone to handle my web development. However, relinquishing control was not an option. Instead, I wanted to ensure SEO optimisation and maintain the integrity of my brand message within the website.
Instead, I chose to take a step back and grant myself a much-needed break. During my reflective walk, I established rules to help me navigate the feelings of choking or overwhelming. So far, I have been making remarkable progress thanks to these guiding principles:
- Take it one step at a time: Break my work into smaller tasks. Rather than trying to do everything simultaneously, focus on one section or feature at a time.
- Use resources: Numerous online resources guide you through the process. YouTube tutorials, forums, blogs, and the template’s documentation are all great places to start.
- Ask for help: Don’t hesitate to ask questions when unsure.
- Take breaks: It’s essential to take breaks when things feel overwhelming. This helps clear your head and leads to new ideas or solutions.
- Celebrate progress: Remember to acknowledge the progress you’ve made so far. Every task you complete brings you closer to your finished project or job.
Understanding this feeling of choking or overwhelming helps you implement effective strategies to manage it. Wishing you luck in your endeavours!
- Baumeister, R. F. (1984). Choking under pressure: Self-consciousness and paradoxical effects of incentives on skilful performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46(3), 610–620. [Accessed 20 May 2023]
- Gucciardi, F. & Dimmock, James. (2008). Choking under pressure in sensorimotor skills: Conscious processing or depleted attentional resources?. Psychology of Sport and Exercise. 9. 45-59. 10.1016/j.psychsport.2006.10.007. [Accessed 20 May 2023]
- Hill, Denise & Hanton, Sheldon & Matthews, Nic & Fleming, Scott. (2010). Choking in sport: A review. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology. 3. 24-39. 10.1080/17509840903301199. [Accessed 20 May 2023]
- Matthew Syed, (2010) Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success. HarperCollins.