Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Blog Post For the Less Emotional

This post is for you if:

1)      When something sad or hurtful happens you may (or may not) feel sad or distressed for a short time, but it doesn't interrupt your life in a big way. (A massive loss may affect you more than this.)

2)      You make decisions based on what seems most logical, not based on how others may feel about your choice.

3)      You find it confusing when other people cry, or feel upset for a long time, over something that doesn’t seem like a big deal to you.

4)      You don’t think about how others feel about you (even the idea of other people feeling things about you may be too confusing and alien for your brain to process).

5)      You don’t know what to do when people are upset.

This post describes me perfectly; at least it describes how I used to be before I learnt about emotions! 

It’s not that I don’t feel anything.  I can feel fear, guilt and shame.  I regularly feel annoyed.  I don't often feel sad though.  And when I do, it's not a deep, pervasive sadness.  It's usually more that I feel a little unsettled.  I can't think of many times when I've felt hurt by people; if I do feel this way, it usually doesn't take much to talk myself out of it.

So, here are my tips to myself, and to anyone like me:

1)      Recognise that you don’t have to suffer the painful emotions that others do.  This is particularly true for overseas workers away from home.  (As much as I love and appreciate my extended family, I’ve never once looked at pictures on Facebook at Christmas time and felt sad that I wasn’t there.)

2)      Realise that statements such as ‘If you don’t cry when you read this book, you aren’t human’ weren’t written with you in mind.

3)     Some authors will have you believe that all women feel emotions strongly, act a certain way or most desire a particular thing.  Books with these claims were apparently written by people who haven’t interacted with a wide enough range of women.

4)      Be grateful for the abilities God has given you.  If you are the only non-emotional person in your group of friends, you can bring a unique perspective to a situation. (Some of my deepest friendships work so well because we are different from each other in the area of emotions, so help each other achieve balance in our thinking and feeling.)

5)      Recognise that other people’s emotions can be a massive force in their lives, even if you can’t understand why they are upset.

6)      You don’t have to understand people’s emotions in order to help them.

7)      Often the best thing you can do is just to listen. (You may later have the chance to help with the practical issues; but first listen.)

8)      Listening is not a waste of time.  It’s often extremely helpful for people to process their emotions by talking. 

9)      Good listening involves acknowledging or clarifying what people have said. Again, the feelings don’t have to make sense to you.  You can still say things like, “It sounds like you felt really sad.” or  “How are you feeling about it all right now?”.

10)  Be gracious when people don’t respond to your own issues in the way you would most like, or when people assume you feel something that you don’t.  For instance, I realised years ago that when someone said, “I’m sorry to hear your relative died”, it would have been better to have responded with “thanks” than with “It’s ok – she was old”. 

11)  If you have children, listen out for their feelings too.  When they come home from school bubbling over with a story of something that’s affected them, or are clearly distressed, take the time to listen to their perspective, letting them share how they feel without immediately jumping in with solutions.   

If you have any tips to add, I'd love to hear from you in the comments section!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Medical Stress

Of all the issues in life, it seems silly that my children's minor medical issues are what so often cause me the most stress. 

We are fortunate to have great doctors and nurses here where we live, and we are grateful to be free from serious medical problems, but I still stress about things like:

- Should I take my child to the clinic? 

- Do I assume it's a virus or might it be an infection that needs treatment?

- Is my child's asthma bad enough right now to need a doctor?

- Can I send them back to school yet?

It seems like all my desires and insecurities are battling together:

* My hatred of making decisions
* My (often hidden) desire for excitement and attention
* My fear of putting people out
* Not wanting to be seen as ridiculous
* Wanting to follow black-and-white rules
* My dislike of staying home with ill children

One thing I know is that I need to get over my fear of getting it wrong.  I have to remind myself regularly that I'm a human and am not all-knowing or all-wise.  It's good to be aware of all my motives, but sometimes I'll think it all through carefully and still get it wrong.  And that's ok.  And if ok with that, I'll spend less energy stressing about the little things.