We are at risk of personal stagnation; of withdrawal into ourselves, of hiding.
A good percentage of the time, knowing why you are feeling a bit out of it right now, if you are, can be a tremendous help. And, the best part, it's a perfectly normal reaction to have right now. Let me explain.
Give your feelings a name.
Let me give you an example of what just happened to me to illustrate just how all-over-the-place emotions can get. Tomorrow morning, I have an interview over an hour away, and there is less than a quarter of a tank of gas in my truck. First thing I have to do is get gas on my way out. A friend called and, in the course of the conversation, said her husband could not get gas for their truck on the way home tonight, that all the stations were out of gas.
What?! I have to go tomorrow. I have to get gas to get there. Do I dare try to make it into the city and hope I find a station with gas there? Since my friend has no gas in her truck, I won't be able to call her to come get me if I run out of gas. I'll be stranded! I'll miss my interview! All this ran through my mind in a split second.
Then, her husband said that the stations that were out of gas were the little ones out in the middle of nowhere, not in town; that the ones in town here will probably be OK. He just figures they are small and couldn't afford to buy more to fill their tanks.
The important interview was (is) the priority, above all else. Getting there was threatened, and few alternatives or options came to mind. I was in a state of panic, an acute form of anxiety. Fight didn't seem to be an option, and neither did flight, so I shut down. All of this within seconds. Though I'm not entirely convinced the explanation was the answer to the sudden crisis, I have no proof that it isn't, so I allowed myself to be relieved. There's nothing I can do about it until the morning anyway, so I'll just have to leave a little earlier than originally planned. I'll roll with it tomorrow when it gets here. Just as quickly as the panic set in was as quickly as the relief came. Just like that.
If I didn't sit down and think through this little panic attack, I'd still be shut down. I wouldn't have any choices identified or contingencies thought out. Nor would I be in any shape in the morning to be my best.
Why it's important.
Most of life's crises don't come at you out of the blue like this one, so as they do pile up, there might not be that state of panic to tip you off to it. Instead, you might just go right to shutting down once you have exhausted everything you can think of as options. It might be one little, minor thing after another until they all pile up on your shoulders.
Again, this is a perfectly normal reaction. But, what you need to realize is that is all it is: a reaction. It is the emotional equivalent to scratching at the bite a mosquito just gave you. Once you catch yourself itching, you stop because you know that to continue itching would only make it worse.
Go do something else.
Since your mind isn't working anyway, go do something else. Go outside for awhile. Check your email. Wash the dishes and make the bed. Just do anything you can think of besides sitting there in a shut-down state. Once your brain starts working again, once you regain perspective, you'll be able to return to identify what you were feeling and move into coming up with solutions.
I'll write about this more in depth soon. For now, I'd better get to bed so I can get up in the morning!