23 February 2015

More About Tailspins

It was way back in June 2014 that I last wrote a piece on emotional 'tailspins'. Here is the original link. At the time I promised you a follow-up, so here it is!

One of the triggers that precede 'tailspin' incidents in me (times where my emotions start going awry) is a high degree of overwhelming input. Far too much happening in too short a time, too many moments of high drama, and insufficient time between incidents to effectively work my way through it. I start becoming increasingly insular, starting patterns of social isolation (I start finding excuses to keep away from people) because it's just too painful to take any more input! Prevent me from getting some quality 'me time' and pretty soon I start to 'tailspin'.

One of the things that I've been trying to do in the past few years is to try and identify what’s happening to me before it becomes a problem; before I start hitting that emotional 'tailspin'. It's often a question of continual self-examination: How am I really feeling? Why can't I admit that to others? And so on...

Knowing My Limits
Pushing a boundary or two in my calendar is not an unfamiliar thing. I can sometimes fit in something else, even on a busy day, so why not? Emergencies happen, I just have to deal with them. The difficulty comes when things are already a bit manic, when things just get a little too much to handle. I want to say no (as much for self-preservation as anything), but it's not possible without letting someone down that I care about.

On such days, I end up feeling drained, overtired, ratty. Sure, I pat myself on the back, I've made it through, it's the end of the day - however, tomorrow's coming. A brief respite, at least. Then the problem is knowing how long is enough for me to recharge. It varies so much - particularly on those times when I'm keeping some wierd hours. I know what is normal for me, but it is getting tougher to judge if that week has been unsettled, with too many extras.

On extreme days, when my need for periods of solitude becomes vital, I'll end up doing a few things that are quite out of character for me - ignoring phone calls, running away from people's requests, finding any and all opportunities to retreat from personal contact. The fear is those desperate attempts at vital solitude will soon become out-and-out isolation. I'll end up a hermit!

Stopping the Spiral
I am aware that I need to break out of such a cycle. 'No' doesn't work very often (ever tried it?), but there are other ways. Prayer is particularly effective for me. Maybe it’s forcing yourself just to go for a walk to the shops, something a colleague once called a 'microholiday'. Meeting up with a friend for coffee - provided that there is no ulterior motive...

Do something, whatever it takes for stop, and reverse the 'tailspin' spiral.

Comments welcomed.

19 February 2015

Knowing When To Smile

I have been encouraged by two separate emails today to spread happiness to others by smiling.

Yes, I am well aware of the awesome power of a smile in the right environment. However, if I start grinning at everybody here and now (I'm writing this on the commuter train to London Cannon Street, very few smiles here) then I may get some weird looks!

So, it's as much gauging that someone needs a smile and that it's appropriate to give it as the actual delivery.

It's right that I should be encouraged to smile. Regardless of the kind of day I am having, the person I am talking to may have more need of it. They may need its energy to see them through a difficult task. It could lift someone up enough to totally change their day!

So, my goal today is to try and spread energy through smiling as often as I can! The aim: that it will ignite other people's own smiles along with the positive energy that comes along with it!

We’re going to fill, fill, fill the world with glory;
We’re going to smile, smile, smile and not frown;
We’re going to sing, sing, sing the gospel story;
We’re going to turn the world upside down.
(SASB 801, chorus)

16 February 2015

The Grass Is Greener...

Do you know the cliche:
“The grass is always greener on the other side?”

Yes, I know the phrase is hackneyed;  overused. But it's a good way to introduce a couple of comments on the subject of discontentment.

You see, it's all about the pursuit of something better - something that you are currently missing out on. Perhaps it's something owned by your neighbours, so literally on the other side of the fence. They have the latest thing - so you need it too! So, rather than you striving to reach a point of stability or satisfaction in your present surroundings or situation, you're looking elsewhere. 

It may not even be a possession. You may be looking for another place to live, another job, another partner.

The problem? Often, you simply don't have the whole picture. This "greener grass" thing may only be a fantasy. Sure, it's terrific to daydream for a while about a new house or car, but when you start telling yourself that its acquisition is the only way you're ever going to be happy, that's dangerous thinking.

Pretty soon, all you'll do is wake every morning with the same dream.  You change that one thing, everything will be so much better.  And part of this fantasy is that everything else will stay the same. 

And if you do it? If it ends up happening? Sure, there is a “honeymoon period" where everything is OK. And then, the niggles return.  Something else doesn't fit. You're off again. Putting the blame for your own discontent onto something or someone else. Perhaps, you'll never be satisfied...

The other evening, one of my officers shared with me this reworded phrase:
"The grass is always greener where you water it."

Think of your lawn. The grass always starts out a nice shade of green, however its beauty fades with use. The lawn needs to be maintained in order to stay nice. It needs cutting, weeding. In hot weather it needs regular watering.

The dull green (or even brown) grass on our side of the fence shows us areas where we need to do some work. It would be so much greener if we take time and effort to nurture it. The neighbour's green grass on the other side of the fence (which we assume comes with little or no effort) is an illusion.

Also, ask yourself: Will the grass ever be green enough for you?

One to ponder on.

10 February 2015

Out there or in here?

Yep, I think I'm getting it now.

I've been blogging a lot recently about learning to work outside my comfort zone. As if that's the only way to get anything done.

However, surely my ultimate objective should be to find an ideal state - one where I am most productive, one which is just right for me, which is right in the middle of my comfort zone...

It's not a case of "coming out of your shell"; in trying to be somebody you aren't.
It's not a case of being stripped of the protection of my comfort zone.
It's not a case of sticking my head above the parapet, waiting for it to be shot at.

It's a case of expanding that zone. Learning to be comfortable with more and more. Pushing the boundaries, every day. From in here, not out there...

Am I right?