You don't need a PhD to understand that we human beings are complex physical, emotional, spiritual, and cerebral creatures; we all get this. (I hope). And while we know that we're highly-evolved (some more than others), multi-dimensional beings, the truth is that some of us have a propensity to be (periodically) a little one-dimensional.
Namely, emotional. (Not you of course, but perhaps someone you know).
And while we take occasional trips to the cerebral, physical, and spiritual planes it seems that some of us constantly inhabit the emotional. And while it's a nice place to visit, living there (permanently) ain't a great life strategy.
I know people who have never left. Their lives are a never-ending series of emotional events. Every day is a new drama. Look up the word 'turmoil' — you'll see a picture of them. These people are hard work, for themselves and for others.
They have an amazing capacity to vacillate between grumpy, happy, sad, frustrated, resentful, and back to happy — all within six minutes. Ninety times a day. And then tell you why it's your fault.
Logic, common sense and reality don't typically factor into their decision making process. In fact, they don't really have a decision making process — more, a (over)reacting process.
Sure, we're all emotional at times (that's normal and healthy); that's not what we're exploring here. I'm talking about people who constantly let their emotions manage them, rather than the other way around. They create stress. Problems. Make the easy, hard. Turn simple, mundane challenges into monumental, attention-grabbing, nobody-understands-me episodes.
They let their emotions ruin friendships, marriages, their career, their health and sadly, their life. Being the (wanna-be) alpha-male warrior that I am, I need to be careful when I explore the emotional stuff — I wouldn't wanna be labeled as an emotionally disconnected, insensitive, hard-core boofhead. As if.
After all, what would an ex-bodybuilder with a shaved head and an obsession with cheesecake know about the touchy-feely stuff? Amazingly, plenty.
Some people think I spend my life talking about dumbbells, carbs, body-fat percentages, and biceps. I wish it was that simple. No, even as an exercise scientist, much of my time and energy is focused on everything except the physical, practical stuff. For many people getting in shape is largely an emotional process. (For many people, life is entirely an emotional process.)
I actually spend a great deal of my time talking to people about how to manage their out-of-control emotions (fears, insecurities, self-esteem issues, eating issues, destructive habits). Their body-fat, blood pressure and chunky thighs are actually the least of their problems (but they often don't know it). Typically, their emotions determine what they do. And don't do.
Their (very capable) mind is held hostage by their over-powering and non-negotiable emotions. Insecurity has their arm twisted up their back. They have an incredible ability to ignore reality, logic, common sense and the advice of others. They are largely controlled by fear. Fear of failure, rejection, humiliation, pain, poverty — and a whole bunch more.
The truth is if we don't throw a little logic, reason and rational thought into how we do life, invariably we end up miserable, distressed, anxious, unfulfilled, and in therapy paying off some bloke's (or chick's) beach house. (I believe in therapy — sometimes. I also believe it's over-prescribed.)
Being periodically fearful, insecure, self-conscious and anxious is a normal part of the human condition; being held hostage to these emotions is destructive, tragic and unnecessary. And common.
We all understand that what we feel (the emotional stuff) and what we think or know to be true ( the cerebral stuff) don't always align, in fact, often don't align. Sometimes we need to take a certain course of action, do certain things, make certain decisions (because logic and common sense tell us so) even though the insecure, fearful, self-protecting eight-year-old in us is kicking and screaming to the contrary.
WE will always be our biggest challenge. I've been arguing with myself for years.
See what I mean?
Many (many, many) times in my life, my logic (what I know I should do) and my emotions (what I'm feeling) have been light years apart. The self-protecting, fourteen-year-old, insecure, fat kid was running desperately in one direction, while the high-achiever adult was desperately clawing his way forward in the opposite direction. Doing what was totally uncomfortable — but necessary.
It's so easy to rationalise inactivity, laziness, procrastination, apathy, mediocrity when we want to; we can justify and explain anything if we try hard enough. I watch people do it every day.
"But Craig, you don't understand my situation. I'm unique to mankind — nobody's been through what I have…"
Talk to the hand, Dreamer. Get over yourself.
Sometimes (today perhaps) we need to make certain decisions and take specific action despite our feelings. Despite the pain. Despite what happened when we were a teenager. Despite the fear. Despite our history.
And while those negative emotions are screaming for attention like a spoiled brat, our highly intelligent, astute, very mature and responsible(!) mind is calmly saying, "get over this little episode, compose yourself and do what you need to do to create the desired result."
You and I need to make that choice.
Despite what we feel.