Have you ever wondered why, on some days, you’re upbeat and full of positive energy? On others, you’re dull and in a funk. It seems random and we look for answers: Did I get enough sleep? Eat too many carbs?
I have a theory (of course!) Consider that our lives are moving forward every day, week by week. Much of it is routine and, hopefully, pleasant. We go to work, go to class, manage our homes, drive the car. Woven into this are the many interactions we have with family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, clients, strangers and professionals. Then, there are the things we do not control, like accidents, illnesses, losses, arguments, emotional hurts, disappointments, fears and worries. That’s a lot! It’s not always smooth sailing.
Picture the bad things as bombs that are dropped into our lives. Some are small explosions – little blips on the screen that barely slow us down. Others are detonations that cause some major fallout and require much of our attention.
The bombs are inevitable and everyone experiences them. It’s how we perceive them, react to them and manage them that is a very individual matter. It’s influenced by so many factors: Our childhood, society, our family’s culture. Maybe you were raised by a parent with a stiff upper lip, who did not show emotion. Perhaps your family’s drama was so encompassing that your own needs were not acknowledged. Whatever the case, it shaped us in a way that is the foundation for how we face crisis today, as adults.
I suspect that most of us are so so busy with responsibilities and obligations that we don’t let the bombshells derail us. The small stuff often gets swept under the rug in an effort to keep on moving forward. In the midst of a big eruption, we are forced to react by struggling to maintain “life as usual.” We need to keep busy – preoccupied by the mundane demands of our everyday existence. We convince ourselves that we can work around the chemo treatments or take that business trip despite an ailing spouse.
Sometimes, it’s our built-in defense system spurring us on to believe that nothing has changed. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; at least, not at the time. But, what about later? What happens to those little fractures to our emotional armour, over time? The little things build up. The public criticism by your boss, a hurtful comment from your spouse, your constant fear about a health issue – are like scar tissue on our hearts.
While you’re keeping your chin up and carrying on through a crisis, like the death of a parent or a potentially life ending illness, what happens when it’s over and you finally stop to catch your breath? The damages from those bombs are far reaching, whether or not we choose to acknowledge it.
What steps can we take to better deal with the repercussions?
- Be more aware – If something is nagging at you or throws you off course, allow yourself to dwell on it a bit. Vent to a friend or trusted coworker. Take the time.
- Address it – Go directly to the source, but not in anger. Let them know their behavior was hurtful. Then, forgive and move on. Leave the rest up to them.
- Show yourself some love – You’d do it for someone else, right? Cancel plans and spend the evening doing what soothes you. Curl up with a book, watch a cheesy movie, go to bed early. It’s really okay.
- Ask for help – If you’re dealing with something, the people who really love you are, too. We often let friends know we’re available but we just don’t know what to do. Ask her to drive you to an appointment or to make dinner for you. Someday, you can return the favor. That’s what friends are for.
Next time you’re just not feeling it, consider that maybe some old bruise on your heart needs comforting. Wrap yourself in a blanket of peace. Have a cup of tea. Do whatever brings relief or solace: Write, take a walk, sleep late. You’ll be back at it in no time. I promise.