How busy are you right now? Yes … right now. Too busy to read this post? Too busy to write that email? Too busy to address that conflict? Too busy to have the conversation in the hall unless you can be walking while you have it? Too busy to buy that sympathy card? Too busy to select a gift? Too busy to grab a cup of coffee with your friend? Too busy to head out of town to see family or friends?
I get like that. In fact, I’m there at this exact moment.
And when I have those moments, I can feel sad, angry, and scared. Basically, I feel tense and anxious. My thoughts can lead me to a place where I think I’m incapable and unworthy. If I’m not careful, these moments when the duties of life and the opportunities I said “yes” to can grip me like a life-sized cobweb.
This happens if I let only MY feelings and thoughts run the show for too long. I can get paralyzed. When I get paralyzed, I don’t meet my commitments. I get stuck.
- Then, those feelings of sadness, anger, and fear start doing push-ups. When those feelings get stronger, I am more susceptible to lashing out.
- If I lash out, I hurt people I love, and sadness, anger, and fear get even stronger. I become MORE sad, MORE angry, and MORE scared.
That sounds like a snowball rolling down a mountain I don’t want to be around. (Then again, It’s May. I don’t want to be around any snowballs, but that’s beside the point.)
So, what should people of integrity do in these moments?
Well, here’s what I do. I think about how I can get centered. Often, that includes connecting with another person I trust. In those moments, I share where I am with things if only to get them out of my head. I may say a breath prayer in these moments. After all, in these moments, I don’t feel I have the time for a lengthy prayer. That would probably be a good idea, too, though. It’s just not my style in these moments.
Having a conversation often helps me to acknowledge my feelings. Then, I spend some time on my thoughts, my beliefs, and my actions.
Specifically, I ask myself WHY I am feeling sad, angry, and scared. Usually, this brings me to my “beliefs.” Often, there is some belief or value that I believe is getting violated. In the case of busyness, my beliefs getting violated are that “I should have downtime. I should be able to relax. I shouldn’t have all these issues and responsibilities to deal with. I should be able to go to bed early or watch brainless TV.”
So, I just went from feelings to beliefs. Then, I meditate on that, and God has a nice way of showing up in those moments. Today, for example, He reminded me that “to those who have been given much, much is expected” Luke 12:48.
Just that little whisper was enough to get me moving. I reflected on the many things that I have been given (easy for me–a man who was adopted as a 6-month old boy from a 3rd-world country). Then, I reflected on how people look to me for wisdom and guidance, and that is an honor. Then, I started feeling happy and excited to step into the work I get to do (in this case, writing this post). Inviting God into my beliefs also helped me think that I would rather write this post than watch any shows, and I’m not even tired. I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep if I wanted to.
So, that’s what happened to my feelings, beliefs, and thoughts. But what about my actions? Well, I thought about what I needed to act on in order to get more centered (less angry, scared, and afraid). For me, my actions were to reach out to trusted friends and to write.
The point here is this: our feelings beg the question, WHY am I feeling such a way? This leads us to our beliefs. What beliefs or values do I believe are getting violated that makes me feel some sort of way? This leads us to our thoughts. What new thoughts can help me change the way I’m feeling (talking to a friend can often help here). Our feelings, beliefs, and thoughts, lead us to some sort of action we can take to center ourselves.
My challenge to you is not to shortcut the process. Invite God into these aspects of our self (feelings, beliefs, thoughts, and actions), and be curious about it as you go through it.
He will wash you clean in the process.
By Tony Bradburn
Tony completed his initial weekend in June of 2008 and is a graduate of our two-year transformational program. Tony hails from the idyllic shades found in Crystal Lake, IL. After being adopted from the Dominican Republic at the age of 6 months into a family in Elgin with two biological children, going through school, getting sober, becoming a teacher and a football coach, getting married, going to more schooling to get a few Master’s degrees, having four beautiful children, moving into educational administration, getting divorced, and now having principalship duties, it’s safe to say that Tony’s path has never been a straight one.