Lately, I have been thinking about you. About what you struggle with…about what brings you joy…about what you need. I feel like we are on a journey, of sorts…together. But the pace of life sometimes keeps us disconnected, from each other and ourselves. We get caught in the frenzied tornado of the rat race. It hinders us from being aware and conscious of our struggles, joys, and even our needs. It feels like life keeps us distracted.
This week, I had a lightbulb moment. Let me explain...
During the work week, I do the work for my business daily until “Pick Up.” That’s the time when school lets out and my children must be picked up. So, no matter how deeply steeped in a project I am, it all comes to a screeching halt when my timer goes off.
(Y’all, I’d be late every day without a timer!)
The thing is that I often feel annoyed by that timer, by the very need to interrupt my stuff to take care of someone else’s stuff. (I’m just keeping it real.) And at times, that translates into impatience and curtness as I work through homework time an hour later. I get snappy and have been known to say, “I already finished second grade!” Those are the moments when guilt and shame saddle up at my sides to usher me into the evening.
Those are not my best mommy nights! 😕
I know that this is not a unique experience. I know that you too have moments when you just want to get to a certain point in your "work" before you must rush to a Winter Concert or scout meeting. There’s an internal conflict that emerges.
Maybe you’re like me…I tend to marginalize the struggle. I would quietly and persistently shove it into a compartment, into my emotional closet. Like the one in the hall that I throw stray shoes into when company arrives unexpectedly. A closet that is supposed to be purged regularly, but has quickly become the keeper of old items. Long forgotten yet their presence still takes up space.
This happens with unexplored and unresolved emotions as well.
Since I was about twelve years old, I have keep journals. I used to write poetry, musings and love interests in those first diaries. But over time, my journals have become my constant companion. They have supported me through multiple broken hearts, missteps, the death of a beloved parent and each grandparent. They’ve recorded my personal journey, as well as the one I’m blessed to share with my husband, the bliss of my children’s births and their development.
I realized this week that the greatest gift that my journals have given me is the simplicity of the blank page. No expectations. No “to-do” lists. No timer. With that blank page, I have learned how to be still. How to wait for the right time to open the closet of my emotions. And to reflect. Reflection is like a key that unlocks the door to my emotional closet. It opens understanding, generates wisdom and stimulates progress.
I know many of you have heard this before. If so, this may be the extra push you need to take the leap and do it. Or maybe some haven’t realized the importance of reflection in the growth journey. If that is the case, stick with me, here.
Reflection is not just a fun thing to do. It is recognized by many, from psychologists to business leaders, to be essential to the development of emotional intelligence (EQ). Reflection helps one develop self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management, measured hallmarks of a person with a high EQ.
When I make the time to reflect on my cloistered feelings, I can acknowledge where I am, make decisions regarding where I want to be, plot out a path between the two. I’m not always happy with aspects of my life-flow but as I grow in self-awareness, I can make better choices and have better mommy moments, at the very least. 😁
Recently, I made the decision to set the timer earlier. Instead of working until the last possible moment, I shift gears thirty minutes earlier. This gives me time to bookmark where I am, put some items away and reset for the next day.
It provides the time for my mind to context switch, which neuroscientists confirm is necessary. Then I can be fully present with my children.
Ok…I must address the elephant in the room.
Reflection is hard work. It is not simple to unpack deep feelings. It requires patience and fortitude. Sometimes a trusted friend is needed. One who can listen carefully, non-judgmentally. One who can remind you of who you are and your value.
Sometimes a mental health professional is required. There are some areas of that closet that have not been touched since childhood. A good counselor could help sort through the roots of those mixed-up emotions.
Wherever you are with your reflection practice, I want to encourage you today. Schedule regular time on your calendar to pull out a journal (any notebook will do) and reflect. Ask yourself how you’re doing and feeling. Discover what you are believing about you. Then…decide your next steps to ensure that your emotions do not get sidelined. And that you don’t, either!
Until next time…