To me, it’s not an indictment of email. (I actually prefer email. It allows me to batch and plan my schedule. Plus, it allows me to communicate with writing, which I really enjoy.)
I do think it’s a call to think deeper and not just accept the quick solution. For example, if I have a headache three days in a row, should I just buy more Advil? Or should I try to think about what might be going on to cause more stress or a change in my health? One is simple numbing. The other is a path to increased awareness of my own behaviors.
What about you? Does the example help you think of any ways that you’re quick to numb when perhaps more awareness would be a better solution?
All the best,
A Wholehearted Approach
When I interviewed the research participants, whom I’d describe as living a wholehearted life, about numbing, they consistently talked about three things:
1. Learning how to actually feel their feelings
2. Staying mindful about numbing behaviors (they struggled too)
3. Learning how to lean into the discomfort of hard emotions
What was interesting to me was how the participants could be divided into two groups: Group A defined the challenge of anxiety as finding ways to manage and soothe the anxiety, while Group B clearly defined the problem as changing the behaviors that led to anxiety.
Group A: “I make a pot of coffee after I tuck in my kids so I can take care of all the emails between 10pm and midnight. If there are too many, I wake up at 4am and start over again. I don’t like getting to work with any unanswered email in my inbox. I’m exhausted, but they’re answered.”
Group B: ” I’ve simply stopped sending unnecessary emails and asked my friends and colleagues to do the same. I’ve also started setting the expectation that it might take me a few days to respond. If it’s important, call me. Don’t text or email. Call. Better yet, stop by my office.”
The participants who struggled the most with numbing, Group A, explained that reducing anxiety meant finding ways to numb it, not changing the thinking, behaviors, or emotions that created anxiety.
“The universe is not short on wake-up calls. We’re just quick to hit the snooze button.”
– Brene Brown
Today, I will practice taking off my “mask” so that I may dare greatly.
It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.