A couple of weeks ago I went on a quick trip to visit my Dad (I hadn’t seen him since earlier in the year on my birthday, when I convinced him to meet me in New York City). It was intended to be a short and relaxing fishing trip with my Old Man. One where we could catch up and spend quality time. One that we decided would be our first of Annual quality time visits. Unfortunately that’s not the way that it worked out. 30 minutes after getting out on to the lake that had taken me 8 hours worth of flights, a 2 hour drive from the airport and an overnight stay in a little hotel to arrive, we received a phone call for a family emergency that forced us to put the boat in drive and make our 3 hour drive back into town.
The next two days, we did what we could to keep each other company during a difficult family situation. Lots of silence, some conversation. Lots of driving around. Just moving forward. Forward motion. Do what must be done to get through it.
It wasn’t until I was buckled in to my seat on the airplane, bracing for take-off, while the loud engines roared that suddenly the tears came streaming down my face. There was no stopping them. As much as I wanted to, while being in public. I couldn’t hold them back.
I wasn’t an empty void during those 2-3 days. I was thinking constantly. Trying to process, but also trying to be present and supportive to my family that needed it.
But it wasn’t until I stopped, had a moment and realized what I had been thinking about when I had become such a wreck. When I was finally able to filter my thoughts for what they were, analyze them, give them meaning, is when they began to have an impact on me. This was a rare moment for me; one where I couldn’t help but take a particular situation personally, hence the tears.
I like to use the phrase, “Step outside of myself” often. And the best way that I can describe what I mean is to change the perspective of my life from 1st person to 3rd person. I am no longer only limited to my own thoughts and perspective, but am privy to how I am merely part of a much larger cog of the world and its spinning components. I go from being inside of my thoughts, my brain, seeing only outside of my eyes, to seeing things from up high, as if being a bird perched on a high point that can not only see what I am doing, but everything else around me. (Basically, It’s like going from a First Person Shooter to an RPG mode.)
I do this intentionally. Meaning, it doesn’t feel natural to do initially. It takes practice. And I decide to take some time to reflect on what I am thinking about, I like to zoom out in this manner. It helps me to not be as subjective. It also helps me better assign weight to particular moments that have occurred, taking in mind why others around me, who have influenced me, might have done things the way that they did. It removes personalizations and creates a better level of understanding. Often, it allows me to move forward rationally.
It also helps to keep far less grudges. People do things for…reasons (surprise!). When we are willing to accept that, and NOT that their reasons are to spite us, processing difficult events in life become much easier to deal with. Too often, we personalize actions of others that were moments that actually had nothing to do with us.
Sometimes we get stuck in 1st person for a really long time. When we go go go go go. These are the seasons that it is easy to misconstrue moments that have occurred. If we don’t take time to reflect and step back to think about the things that we are thinking about, and possibly even course correct our thoughts, we create a very biased and subjective (almost even fictional) narrative. One that leads to questions like, “Why me?” Rather than, “How can we make this better?”
This morning as I was getting ready to have my quiet time of writing, I realized it’s been one of those weeks. I’ve had multiple days where I had things planned from the moment I woke up to the moment that I went to bed, giving myself not a second to process. Being on auto-pilot is NOT good. Sometimes it gives us a false sense of being “strong.” But “strong” will not be the adjective used to describe us when we finally slow down and reality hits us like a ton of bricks (those poor strangers on the airplane sitting next to a crying lady, like me).
An important thing to note about the appearance of being a “strong one.” People rarely understand when you have moments of “weakness.” They forget that you are human too. They don’t know how to handle your breakdowns when you do, because you’ve always played the role of helping others with theirs. But don’t fall into this trap of keeping up appearances. Be true. Be vulnerable. Show others you are human.
Appearances are dumb. Truth is best. Care will be genuine. To put it simply.
So, what is it that you have been thinking about? How have you let it affect you? Do you need to re-route some things? Change perspective? Get outside of yourself?
Give yourself some time to do so. Whether it’s sitting in silence somewhere, journaling, meditating, praying, find your outlet. But invest. Invest in your thought process. It will have a tremendous impact on how you navigate through your life’s journey. I promise.