I have written a fair amount about emotions already. Me being an emotional soul has lead to many an emotional roller coaster.
As I say in the intro to my book I’m (restarting) writing on the subject, I used to be a victim of my emotions.
In fact I used to revel in the roller coaster that was my emotional life. I now have as much difficulty understanding why as I did then towards people who preferred a more stable existence.
Even the train wrecks along the way were simply the price I thought we must pay to experience intense emotions and live life to the full.
Without being open to these experiences, I doggedly persisted, we would miss out on the wonderful feelings that come with the highs.
The lows were the risk we run as with any other area of our lives and my entrepreneurial spirit is by nature a risk-taker.
Of course, there are some positive outcomes of that way of thinking. But I suspect the majority lie in the hard lessons learnt in recovering from the drop – or more dramatically when the roller coaster we took leaves the tracks completely!
That is certainly the case for the emotion management technique that forms the basis of the book.
More widely, it reflects my natural ability to recover from these lows, another reason why I let myself get carried up in the first place – what you might call resilience. This trait, itself, of course, comes from the School of Hard Knocks.
My fundamental rejection of regret, learnt the hard way but now deeply ingrained, also allows me to focus on the positive side of any fall, knowing that regret doesn’t change anything. (This doesn’t mean we should forget or ignore lessons, but we need to focus on the solution, not the problem – that’s another story.)
This past propensity to charge headlong into potential heartache and emotional turmoil, therefore, forms part of what makes me who I am, and all these experiences had to happen to teach me, so I could help others more empathetically.
So, undoubtedly, I have to be thankful for them.
But these days I am happy to save my roller coaster rides for the theme park.
That is not to say there are no ups and downs – of course there are. We need some darkness to appreciate the light. The question is how we balance the two, like Yin and Yang.
In writing this, I realise that, actually, I am not renouncing the roller coaster ride at all. In fact this analogy has suddenly become even more relevant.
You see, I have learnt to be able to experience intense emotions without any long term fallout. Just as the thrill of a real life roller coaster, if you are strong enough and well-prepared enough, there is no reason you should suffer long-term consequences.
(It is also why heavily pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions should not get on these rides – just those who are not prepared emotionally are well advised not jump into an highly-charged situations. But, of course, as I know all too well, it is precisely those who are not, who tend to do so!)
Though it does mean you enter into such situations with much more circumspection and diligence – if the risks are too high and the compensation unclear, we can avoid them.
I will talk in a future post about achieving balance, so we can operate within manageable limits of what you might call “standard deviation of the happiness mean”, or a band of highs and lows that avoids extremes. I had an interesting conversation with a student about this recently.
Being a sensitive soul, I still have many moments, especially when tired, when I well up at the drop of a hat. Like last weekend at a concert of my choir’s junior section, following a weekend workshop of body percussion led by an amazing musician and pedagogue.
They are usually happy tears, but sometimes distress at what happens in the world – and sometimes both.
Either way, these experiences now promote action, such as my tweet afterwards inspired by another amazing rendition of Imagine, by John Lennon, as I increasingly yearn for a world with no borders, no countries, nothing to kill or die for…
So they all serve a purpose.
When we are at peace with ourselves, we can experience intense emotions (whether “good” or “bad”, though I have given up such labels) and move on.
This is, of course, the topic of many, many books and blogs, including my own. I am now beginning to document my own journey towards that peace, including the setbacks.
But the prize for making progress towards that goal is the ability to ride emotional roller coasters and not only live to tell the tale, but enjoy the experience and look forward to each new day…