Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Emotional Safety: Avoiding Annihilation When at War Emotionally

So it’s been a rough few weeks. I have been completely overwhelmed in every area of my life. Usually it is just one or two areas and I can manage that through the grace of God, but these last few weeks, that overwhelming feeling, that feeling of being submerged with no way out from underneath has had no limits. There have been times that I just couldn’t stop the crying no matter how hard I tried; times that I felt like I simply couldn’t breathe. Why? Because it seemed that every facet of my wild and normally wonderful life was requiring my presence, my problem solving skills, my expertise, my attention and my self-discipline to the tenth degree. I needed algebra to come to life for me: I needed me⁴. Of course my life always requires these things, everyone’s life does. I can’t really describe it other than to say that it seemed as if everyone and everything in my life needed all of me, all at the same time. But when you are doing it alone and there is no one else to problem solve with, split your time with, encourage you in the areas where you are weak, and give you a little time alone to recharge, it certainly magnifies ones tasks. Heck, it’s hard when you do have a partner that you share life with. But I survived! I made it through without killing myself or anyone close to me; at least not physically. Enter transparency: verbally, I am pretty sure that I annihilated a few along the way and I am certain that the target was those that mean the most to me. Why do we do that? We treat those we love sometimes worse than we would treat our neighbors that we don’t even like.

So how do I manage my emotions when they seem to be so strong and desperately trying to get into the driver’s seat? How do I make sure that my ability to hurt someone so easily when I am out of sorts doesn’t happen again, or at least as often as it used to? I am a work in progress and I haven’t attained the goal of absolute control over my emotions, but I am definitely better at it than I was a couple of years ago. If I take the time to acknowledge my mistakes and learn from them then I become better at it than I was the last time.

So how do I do it? How do I keep them at bay when they seem much stronger than my free will at the moment? A few months ago, a friend of mine and I created what we call the emotional safety list. It may seem silly at first, but it works; at least for me. It is a list that I put on my phone, in my purse, or wherever I can have immediate access to it so that it is always with me. It is a list of things that I do when having a rough day emotionally and I feel like they are about to take over. You know the feeling. For me it is like a time bomb about to explode right in the center of my chest; or when the tears flow way too easily for this usually tough cookie. For you, the signs might be a little different but I bet if you try, you could identify the precursors to your emotional blunders. My emotional safety list includes the following. For you it might be different. I will tell you however that the first three are must haves; most of the time I never make it to#3 and #4 because the first two are generally all I need but everyone most definitely needs the third.

I pull out my Bible and start reading through scripture. This is not the first thing I FEEL like doing but it is definitely the first thing I KNOW that I should do. Do you see the difference? I do what I know I will benefit from and not what I feel like doing which usually makes a fool of me.

I pray. Again, this is not always what I feel like doing but I know I should.

I call a trusted friend, one that I can be completely transparent with that will not judge me in any way shape or form, and I vent. I have three of them. If you don’t have one, this is a priority. And don’t pick someone who is going to tell you what you want to hear. Pick someone that you know will tell you the truth no matter what. I’ll be honest, most of the time all three of these lovely ladies tell me things that I don’t want to hear. I grumble and complain and they support and love me anyway. In fact, the first thing she normally asks is “have you prayed about it?” or “have you gone to The Word to see what it says about it?” She reminds me that #1 and #2 are priority and if need be, she does it with me.

I exercise. This is my least favorite but I know if I can just walk a few miles or exert some energy I will feel better.

So that’s it! I am not perfect at it and honestly, it took me about two weeks to get out of this emotional funk that I was in; probably because I didn’t immediately do #1 and #2 first. I’m a little hard headed and stubborn, even when I know the truth. I am sure that God often says “ok, here we go again. We are going to learn this lesson one way or another, my dear”. He is so gentle and so loving and boy is he patient with me. I try to remember that when my stubborn, strong willed child does the same. I love that God uses the lessons that he teaches us as our father as platforms for raising our own children. Don’t you?

Nehemiah 8:10 "...Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength"(NIV). 


germaine(aka allemao) said...

How do I automatically re-tweet your posts, Allison? Same kinda emotional month for the married set. The cherry on the proverbial cake was witnessing mainstream 'non-secular' society getting over on the backs of widows and orphans. Me balling in public is never pretty. I tried to work it out on the grill last light and it didn't work but we had a great dinner. Getting that bible now. Thanks as always.

Allison said...

Hey sweetie, there should be a set of boxes at the bottom of the blog post that has M B t f and a circle. If you click on the t it should post to your twitter profile or f for facebook. or if you found it on twitter you can just hit the two arrows for retweeting. hope this helps and thanks for re-tweeting.

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