SENIOR SCENE: Be careful what you wish for


The past couple of weeks were an example of "be careful what you wish for." I recall saying to a friend recently, "we haven't had a good snow in years." Well, we got our good snow -- and then some.

My wife and I live in Hot Springs Village, and a couple of days before the snow began the Village POA sent an email warning us to be prepared to be snowed in for a few days. We heeded those warnings, which turned out to be a good idea.

The more I think about the phrase "be prepared," the more I realize how much in life we prepare for. We have insurance to prepare both for the unforeseen and the inevitable. We have nest eggs to prepare for unexpected expenses. And, thankfully, I was prepared with a scoop shovel and a pair of gloves to shovel the backyard so my wife's pooch could do his business.

How much thought do we give, though, to preparing mentally and emotionally for the unexpected unpleasantries in life? Some people seem more prepared. They are able to stay even-keeled during stressful life moments while others can't.

There are a number of reasons for this. One of the main reasons has to do with which "mind" we are using at a given moment. Psychologist Marsha Linehan popularized the concept that we think using one of two minds, the reasonable or the emotional. Both minds are essential to our being human; but, depending on the situation, one is usually more appropriate than the other.

For example, if I'm visiting with a friend who had just lost a loved one, I would look cold and uncaring if I responded with a purely reasonable mind. On the other hand, if I have an important decision to make, the emotional mind would not be of much use to me at that moment. That's a time to be reasonable.

We can usually tell whether we are using our emotional or reasonable mind at any given moment. We can also determine which would be the more appropriate mind to use. The trick is getting from one to the other. I have a couple of suggestions:

First, practice relaxation and breathing skills. Anxiety puts us in the emotional mind, and relaxation skills can be effective to manage that anxiety. There are myriad resources online to learn relaxation and breathing skills. The key is to practice them daily.

Second, get in the habit of asking yourself what you are thinking. As odd as it sounds, much of the time we are not fully aware of what we're thinking, so we make decisions based on emotion rather than on reason.

Often the times we're the most emotional or anxious are the times when we need to be the most reasonable. Learning to use the reasonable mind more effectively can help you be better prepared for whatever is coming your way.

If you're having difficulty with this and it's causing you significant anxiety or emotional distress, call us at 622-3580. Perhaps we can help.

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