Nerves and Emotions
Zenith
Zenith Greenwood Village, CO
Published on April 23, 2020

Nerves and Emotions


For the people at my company, we are concluding our 5th week of “social distancing” or what we have called “let’s work from home.” I must admit that this is going on longer than I thought it would at first, but I am relieved that the initial dire predictions are not playing out. And I believe we are getting closer to solutions that will get everyone back to work.

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I’m still reading Ryan Holiday’s book The Obstacle is the Way – The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph. There are a couple of chapters in the book that focus on how people manage their emotions and remain calm when obstacles appear.

We are all living through what I’m sure will become one of the most unforgettable events in our lives. I don’t need to list all of the changes everyone is experiencing, but I do want to talk about our approach to them. Every one of us will experience setbacks, disappointments, and loss in our lives. Unpleasant surprises in life are almost guaranteed.

We can’t escape them. And if that’s true, what we really ought to be conscious of is our reaction to these events when they occur. Do we lose control of our emotions? Do we overreact? Do we imagine all the worse possible conclusions of these events? If so, then we have work to do.

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We do have a choice in how we respond, and I think it’s essential to slow down our thinking long enough to recognize we are in control of that choice. In the book, Holiday calls it “Steady your Nerves.”

This means preparing for the realities of our situations, steadying our nerves so we can throw our best at it. Steeling ourselves. Shaking off the bad stuff as it happens and soldiering on-staring straight ahead as though nothing has happened. Because as you now realize, it’s true. If your nerve holds, then nothing really did ‘happen’ – our perceptions made sure it was nothing of consequence.

In the book, he talks about the Apollo astronauts and the work they did in preparing to be launched into space. The one skill that was taught and valued over all else was the astronaut’s ability to remain calm, control their emotions, fight the urge to panic when something went wrong. Panicking in outer space has catastrophic consequences.

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From the book:

Life is really no different. Obstacles make us emotional, but the only way we’ll survive or overcome them is by keeping those emotions in check – if we can keep steady no matter what happens, no matter how much external events may fluctuate.

Let’s face it, who would you rather be with during a crisis? The person who loses control of their emotions, or the person that remains calm, and goes about doing what is required to manage through the unexpected obstacle? I think we all know the answer.

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It’s also my belief that we can decide right now to become that person. The person who says, “No, thank you, I can’t afford to panic” when those inevitable unpleasant surprises of life appear. Holiday acknowledges in the book that it is more than acceptable to have strong emotions regarding the events, just as long as we don’t let our emotions take over our response.

From the book:

Subconsciously, we should constantly be asking ourselves this question: Do I need to freak out about this? The answer? No, because I caught myself, and I’m able to realize that that doesn’t add anything constructive.

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Remember this: Everything always works out in the end. And if it hasn’t worked out yet, it’s not the end. I guarantee it!

Quote of the week:

Would you have a great empire? Rule over yourself.

Publius Syrus

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Zenith Greenwood Village, CO
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