switching emotional states

A fair bit of the last 18 hours I’ve experienced some paralysis from feeling overwhelmed. I am one of those really lucky people who sleeps well … in fact it is running joke at home how little time it takes me to fall asleep. Not last night.

I lay awake into the wee hours. I thought about our children, thousands of kilometres away, all going through important phases in their lives … parents worry a lot. I thought about work. Our Melbourne based business is going through very significant transitions. I am a long way away and cannot be engaged as meaningfully as I would like and everything seems to take so long when you can’t influence it. I thought about my health. Two more moles will be coming off as a precautionary measure in the next month or so, and an ultrasound to check out a lump next week.

I got through a mornings work and then have been tossing and turning in 8A as the plane bumps through the high level cloud off Cape York. From feeling like the week was going well … I find myself in a bit of a spiral. What’s a bloke to do?

Well, here’s what I do. I tap into some thought processes that effectively switch my emotional state from negative to positive. For me that means plugging into sources of pleasure, goodness and meaning. I pick up the airline magazine that I’ve already ‘read’ twice and scan it for indicators or good design, acts of kindness and justice. I scour for places, things and people of genuine beauty. I mine it for stories of people who are not living ‘under the circumstances’ but have made choices to shape circumstances.

And I find some.

I feel the energy begin to seep back into my soul. I begin to count my blessings. I remind myself of what is within my control and what is not. I rekindle a problem solving posture rather than feeling buffeted. I start to regain some emotional strength.

I take in my privileged surroundings. I have chosen my travel bag, the items of clothing I am wearing and my travel accessories not simply for their functionality but because of their design. Did I mention – I really like good design. And I immerse my heart in memories and anticipation of those I love. I chose not to experience circumstances but to live. The things that kept me awake last night remain the same. But now they are opportunities for good living, rather than hurdles to passive comfort.

I glance out the window and the clouds have cleared.

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It was a regrouping weekend for me. Time for reflection has been scarce this year and I have missed it. I had expected my travel routine would have offered me more opportunities for thinking and writing than it has. Instead the tray table has become another desk, and I scramble to get things knocked off my do list before the seat belt sign illuminates for landing.

Stuff happens like that doesn’t it? Our expectations don’t eventuate. The trick is figuring out how long to allow the patterns to develop before we reset. 2013 is about a new experiment in work and life. The downside of commuting to work by plane every week is offset by long weekends at home at one of our favourite stretches of Australian coast.

The honeymoon period for me has been characterised by adrenaline charged workdays, surviving on less sleep in order to keep the various balls in the air. Those balls involve progressing work for clients, keeping connected with our Melbourne based family when there, helping think through and manage significant change in our business, a routine of medical appointments and regular exercise.

The wettest February in 10 years has literally put a damper on the weekends. That hasn’t bothered us until more recently, when like other QLDers we’ve begun to tire of the rain and south easterlies.

So this last weekend has punctuated that. Some sun in the outlook has helped. A reassessment of expectation re writing projects has begun to alleviate some frustration. I am re-energised for the next season.