I just stumbled across this article (thanks to the lovely Miss Lisah Barry), and as is so often the case with unsolicited wisdom, the timing was perfect. It resonated with me regarding a recent emotional situation, and so I thought I’d share.
The article, from the blog Tiny Buddha, is about how to deal with feeling things intensely, becoming more aware of your intense feelings, and learning to sit with them and process them, rather than pushing them down, or painting over them with positive psychology.
Here was the bit that snagged me, regarding reactions:
Do you frequently jump to conclusions without knowing all the facts? Do you need other peoples’ approval to feel comfortable in your own skin? Do you assume you know what other people feel and take responsibility for that? Do you freak out over stressful situations, blaming other people, getting hard on yourself, and panicking over possible consequences?
When I’m in a situation I find overwhelming, my first reaction is always emotional. And it usually looks like panic. My reaction to this panic, of course, is to gather all the troops immediately and form a new game plan which will extract (the royal) us from this dire situation post-haste. Then order can take over once more.
The most difficult thing for me is to sit with feelings of discomfort or uncertainty. I like to buy tickets for things immediately, firm up plans as soon as possible. I like to understand what’s happening at every step. I became aware several years ago that my fast decision making was not evidence of an acute sense of reason, or admirable decisiveness, but rather a defense mechanism against uncertainty. Looming uncertainty creates such an all-consuming sense of discomfort for me that I will go to any lengths to avoid it.
All that is to say, that there is wisdom in the age-old advice to “sleep on it”. So often the first reaction to a situation is emotional. Time is needed to let that first reactionary wave to swell and then subside, allowing space for reason. Emotions are important, often pointing us to our true feelings, and illuminating the destination we’d like to see ourselves at. But rational planning is often the best roadmap to get us there.