I often write here about how anything we struggle with is usually more complex, and less black-and-white, than we make it. Which is good news. Black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking is at least part of the issue about 99% of the time we’re stuck in fear.
But for some of us, and particularly for those of us who fall into my just-created category of “so-beautifully-complex-it’s-ridiculous” (and I say this with deep love and respect because I adore people who are ultra-complex), it can be good to remind ourselves that sometimes it’s actually kinda simple.
I’m thinking of that useful acronym, H.A.L.T. It stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. When we’re feeling crappy, it helps to ask if one of these things is going on for us. Hunger is one that sometimes sneaks up on me. If I don’t catch hunger before it becomes full-blown, I get into low-blood-sugar panic. This happened to me last week and I found myself grabbing food I’d never normally buy off the shelves in CVS, then ripping open a package of cookies in the car. I got so hungry I went into survival mode — food, now!
Luckily, this rarely happens because I don’t allow myself to get that hungry. But it was pretty simple: I derailed my afternoon because I convinced myself it was important to run errands before eating lunch. I didn’t need to make it mean anything other than that, even though I caught myself having thoughts about how clearly my life was spinning out of control as I stared through my windshield eating Mint Milanos in the CVS parking lot.
It’s good to notice what we’re making something mean. (In fact, if I were forced to choose my all-time favorite coaching question, it would be “What are you making that mean?”) Feeling crappy doesn’t always mean so awfully much.
Like today, I was sitting in my office about to start working on this blog post, and I started feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable. I often feel uncomfortable and vulnerable before I start writing a blog post. But in this case, I was also cold. (The heat doesn’t reach from the living room into my office very well, so I need to be extra-bundled-up while I’m in here during the winter months.) I put on a warmer sweater and I felt instantly more comfortable and a lot less vulnerable.
My writer friends and I have noted that when we’re tired, we’re a lot more judgmental about our writing. Geesh, when I’m tired, everything looks a little bit bleaker. And the same for when I’m dehydrated.
Sometimes, things truly are complex and need some heavy untangling. But sometimes, it really is as simple as putting on a sweater or drinking a glass of water or getting more sleep. When you’re so-beautifully-complex-it’s-ridiculous, this can be deeply comforting to remember.
Try this: The next time you find yourself grid-locked by analysis paralysis, apply H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) to your situation and see what you comes up for you. The last time I did this, I discovered I was actually lonely, called a close friend, and emerged from the conversation with an entirely new — and workable — perspective on my situation, even though we hadn’t actually discussed what I was worried about.
You can check out my previous article on analysis paralysis, here.
Image is “Sunrise Solitude” © Lyn Adams | Dreamstime.com