Day 331: Railroad crossing ahead

Emotions are a funny thing. So many crazy parts of our lives are wrapped up in and are affected by our emotions. Hormones. Hunger. Sleepiness. Accomplishment. Frustration. Connection. Pride. The list could go on and on…It’s not all bad stuff. But often we think about our emotions in terms of negativity.

  • Ah, that person is so emotional. 
  • This person lacks emotional intelligence. 
  • The emotional drama that follows ____ is exhausting. 

OK, OK. I don’t like drama any more than the rest of you, but there’s value to our emotions. For example, our emotions can signal that something is going on in our lives that we need to pay attention to. If we’re particularly weepy, maybe it’s rest we need. If we’re grumpy, maybe we need food. (Speaking from experience.) If we’re bouncing off the walls, maybe there’s something wonderful happening and you need to share it to encourage others.

Think of emotions like a railroad crossing. We get the road sign that there’s a railroad crossing. That’s just to make us aware. (Think: Oh, what you just said came in sorta sideways…I think it bothered me). We can then see the flashing lights, and hear the bells clanging. (Think: I’m starting to feel my blood boil) But sometimes, when we’re distracted, that’s not enough to keep us from running straight into an oncoming train (Think: verbal diarrhea). When we can use our emotions like a railroad crossing guardrail, that makes us stop, and gives a moment to pause, and if we’re wise, we can defuse our irritation, and see what the real cause is. That’s where the wise address the root cause and not the immediate trigger.

Proverbs 29:11 says: Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end. Note to self: It doesn’t say the wise remain calm…it says they bring calm in the end. That gives me the opportunity to think about what I’m doing, and why, and to adjust before that irritation turns into full venting. It also gives me permission to feel human: weepy, irritated, grumpy, silly, or whatever.

Hopefully, when the train passes, and the guardrail goes up, I’m free to go on my merry way without having caused a disaster, simply because I paid attention to the signs and made the appropriate adjustments.

DAY 331 HOMEWORK: Do you know what your triggers are? If not, pay attention to times when your emotions seem to be all over the place. What’s really going on? What’s your physical state? What’s underlying the feelings? Once you start seeing your signs, it will help you to put the guardrail down so you can pause a few minutes and react calmly. And if you give way to venting, forgive yourself, and work on it a bit more for next time.

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