This post is about the intersection of two usually minor things. Gnats, really. Annoyances and not much more. Things you’d just as soon swat as put any real effort into.
However, when they come together and they often do, they come together like two freight trains colliding in the night.
We talking way beyond dangerous here.
Have you ever had a day when you felt just a little “out of sorts”? A tad discombobulated, perhaps? You’re just not firing on all cylinders and you know it? You’re a little off, maybe?
There are lots of signs that these are true even if you don’t recognize them as such; you take things more seriously than you should. You take things the wrong way. You’re more sensitive to others’ opinions. Jokes aren’t as funny as they should be. You’re melancholy. You feel a little cold even though everyone else is perfectly comfortable. You deny yourself simple pleasures — a stick of gum, a piece of candy, that last cup of coffee — for no real reason you can think of. Things like that.
The common term for this malaise is vulnerability. Everybody has vulnerable moments. It’s normal, even healthy. There’s lots of reasons for a sense of vulnerability. The best thing to do when you feel vulnerable is take a moment and figure out what’s causing it. There’s always a reason. Sometimes you’ve caught a cold or the flu and it hasn’t completely manifested yet. Sometimes your stomach’s upset but not enough to knock you out. Ditto a headache. Other times it can be something that’s happened or happening in your life. A friend is moving away, a raise doesn’t come, a relationship ends or begins. Perhaps a bad nights sleep, or dreams that left you feeling a little off.
Whatever the cause, take a moment and see if you can figure out what’s making you feel vulnerable. Often being able to point your finger at the cause of feeling vulnerable is enough to make it go away.
Have you ever had a day when you need to make a decision? Doesn’t matter if it’s minor or major, it can be anywhere from “Should I have another cup of coffee?” to “Should I relocate my family for that job?”
All that matters is that it’s a decision that has emotional elements and is more than a logical “Yes/No” type question.
Feelings of vulnerability can be thought of as mild or minor depressive episodes. Everybody has them and they’re only a concern when they don’t go away or escalate. What’s important for this discussion is that they’re depressive, meaning that different parts of your brain and different aspects of your conscious and non-conscious selves are not communicating optimally. No where near it, in fact.
You are, in a sense, under the influence of a self-generated narcotic, hypnotic, soporific, take your pick.
The point is, you’re not in any condition to make a decision of any kind. You’re not in the right frame of mind to make a decision.
Make a decision when you feel vulnerable and your decision will be based on avoidance of pain, not on attracting pleasure. You’ll be making a decision in a depressive state, you won’t be thinking clearly, and your sense of vulnerability will cause you to act emotionally, not logically. You’ll flame someone you could just as easily ignore, you’ll say something you shouldn’t to someone you care about or who cares for you, you’ll be less kind when you could be more.
It’s amazing what a little vulnerability can do to our lives.
Looking Both Ways Before Crossing the Intersection
Fortunately, there are some simple fixes for avoiding such train wrecks and they all begin with self-awareness. Literally, do you feel or sense something’s amiss?
Then stop what you’re doing until things pass (and they will). Meetings can usually be postponed, phone calls can be rescheduled, projects can be delayed an hour or even a day with little to no difficulty.
Quite simply, when you sense something’s amiss, take a moment and see if there’s any decisions you need to make. Most will be minor and can be postponed until your vulnerability passes.
Is there something truly important that can’t wait? Ask a trusted friend or co-worker’s advice and help. Strategize with them. Listen, pay attention, seek input and feedback. Is this person truly trusted? Tell them you’re feeling vulnerable. They’ll understand and help you through it. Most times just talking it through with someone helps to put things in perspective and you become aware of whatâ€™s causing the vulnerability so you can deal with it.
So the next time you’re feeling vulnerable and have to make a decision, don’t.
That intersection is a dangerous one to cross. Look both ways then look again.
Chances are you’ll figure out what’s bothering you, be able to chuckle and shrug it off, then make the decision with a clear mind and heart. The greatest benefit is that you’ll be in better control of your life. You’ll be able to appreciate and deal with your moods rather than be dictated by them. No small achievement, that.
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