Moving Towards My Emotional Center

June 02, 2003

I find myself feeling anxious most of the time now. With my current contract ending in just 28 days and no certain income beyond that I am starting to feel very out of control. I want to attack this situation intellectually; with lists and phone calls, networking and favors. I want to map out tasks for each day. I want to exert control on a situation over which I have no control.

In the past I have tried to do just that: exert control over things beyond my control. It hasn't worked very well. Not that making lists or planning tasks is a bad idea or ineffectual. On the contrary, those are useful and constructive activities. What I wasn't doing in the past was including my emotional center in the process. I was trying to take care of my emotions by thinking. Trust me, this doesn't work.

Today I am focused more on my emotions than my intellect. I am listening to my fears and concerns, and trying to soothe myself when they swell. No one can take care of my emotional state except for me. If I stay intellectual and task oriented, I will ignore a huge part of my current set of needs. And ignoring those needs will hamper everything I try to do and eventually cause me to stumble and fall.

The male-centered society I live in tells me I shouldn't have strong emotions or allow my actions to be driven by feelings. I should be macho and gain through pain. Real men don't cry. I find that this is all a load of horse shit. Real me do cry, real men do have emotions, and they can make decisions that take care of their emotional self.

What I am striving for here is a balance between my intellect and my emotions. I know how to make lists and break things down into tasks. I can calculate what it will take to move, and I can play the hiring game to get a new job. But all of those activities are wasted if I don't listen to my emotional self. If I shun the feelings I am having then what I end up with won't be satisfying.

Three times in the past 6 years I have gone through this process. Three times I have focused on the physical goals. I have excelled at the process and ignored the content. And three times I haven't been able to find happiness or satisfaction in the new situation. I know know that by ignoring my emotional content I crippled my changes of success. I programmed these situations to fail.

So today I am anxious about the future. I am worried about what will happen July 1st. I don't know what the situation will be, but I do know that I am not going to settle for anything less than a situation that meets my emotional and intellectual needs. I have learned that, intellectually speaking, most employment situations are identical. The process of getting a new job is intellectually the same each time. And the process of moving is the same intellectually as well. Focussing just on the intellectual side of this change hasn't gotten me what I wanted. Continuing to focus on just the intellectual side of change expecting to get a better result would be insanity.

This time I am focused on the emotional side of change. I am not ignoring the intellectual side at all, but it is not my primary focus. By now I have enough experience to know what to do almost without thinking. I have done the intellectual exercises enough times that they have become almost routine. This frees me up to focus on the emotional aspect of change. I can allow myself to feel my way through this transition. I can learn what my emotions are about this kind of life event, and I can grow to meet those emotional needs in a positive way.

Change is hard. Change is painful and confusing. Change can be the worst experience you've ever lived through. Change when you are out of balance with yourself is awful and only sets you up for more change.

Change is good. Change is growth and learning. Change can be the best growth experience you've ever given yourself. Change when you are in balance emotionally and intellectually with yourself is true growth and true progress along your life path.

I am not looking forward to the tough emotional days ahead. Nor am I thrilled about the intellectually challenging negotiations I'm faced with in the next few weeks. But I am resolved to keep myself emotional and intellectually centered. For it is only with that balance that I'll get what I truly want and need.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.