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Maintaining emotional equilibrium has mostly come easily to me, but like anything in life, it’s strained in situations of confrontation and unrest, like the COVID-19 pandemic we face today.
Whenever I am tested, the first thing I aim to do is become aware of the situation. I sit myself down and have a talk with myself. You know the kind of talk where someone says, “I need to talk to you,” and you know it’s going to be serious? That kind of talk.
Most people don’t like having serious chats. Often we avoid them at all costs. But in order to maintain my emotional equilibrium, it’s important that these sit-downs take place.
The most useful way to begin this process is connecting with my breath. It’s the quickest way to come back to the present moment and shine a light on the emotional soup brewing inside. If I don’t begin the process of feeling the emotions and just sitting with them, I run the risk of not acknowledging them at all, and that’s when blocks start to build, walls are formed, ideas are shifted and solidified. For me, that’s the stuff that you talk about and aim to break down when you go to therapy.
My goal is to catch it before it reaches the point of solidification.
I’m not sure if it’s entirely possible but, hey, if you aim for the moon and miss you’ll at least land amongst the stars.
I’ve noticed layers of realization after moments of denial lifting and coming into the light to be discovered.
Here’s a recent example: lately my work environment has been very stressful. I keep telling myself I’m okay, but when I hear from a certain person my body has a noticeable physical reaction. My back gets tight, my breathing becomes shallow and I notice stiffness in my neck. I keep telling myself I’m okay but the clues my body is giving me tell me a different story. It tells me I feel unsafe.
So I pay attention. It’s not always easy, but once I do it, I realise the situation is hurting me more than I initially thought. And now that I recognise it, I have the power to do something about it.
I imagine this is how trauma might be formed. Repeated acts of violation, worry, extreme stress all being stored in your body. And perhaps because they are so intense your body holds onto them but your mind cannot cope with the stress, so it tucks them away, later ready to be triggered again.
My mother has always been a huge advocate for therapy. If I ever had a problem she would always say, “go and talk to someone about it”. Sometimes it was frustrating, but whenever I did I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It’s incredible what talking something out will do.
What’s been interesting for me, even writing this post, is that although I think that maintaining emotional equilibrium has been something that mostly comes easy to me — has it really? How many rounds of questioning and talking through things have to happen before we arrive at our state of truth? And how do we know when we arrive?
I’ve always been curious about extremely confident people. Where does their confidence come from? And how do we distinguish between confidence and arrogance? Perhaps confidence is unwavering faith, a complete trust in oneself and arrogance, an offensive attitude of superiority.
So how do we build confidence without thinking that we are in any way superior?
Perhaps if we keep digging, keep uncovering our truths, keep talking it out, keep feeling, and keep being curious, we’ll get there. When I approach life from a place of curiosity I learn things rather than judge, I am open and ready to listen.
Often listening is a difficult process, but it allows me to really see situations from different angles and take note of what’s going on inside of me.
And what’s going on inside of me gives me clues.
Then I start the process again.
What’s your process?