When Shanti was little, we tried to train ourselves: Scold in a whisper (much easier for Charles than for me), and celebrate her successes like we were partying on New Years Eve. How often we praised her and recognized what she was doing right was important, but just as important was how big a dose we delivered.
It wasn’t just about the frequency of our interactions, it was about the intensity.
If we were scared – if that parental panic inside was flagging us down like the robot in Lost in Space screaming “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!” – we’d let out a yelp that made everyone within earshot freeze and stop breathing for a minute. That’s a big dose. Alright, so you’re thinking it’s a pretty good thing to stop danger in its tracks. But what about the other kinds of fears and anxieties we communicate to our kids? And, what about our anger? When it’s anger you’re delivering, even a little dose goes a really long way. Are the doses of the healthy stuff big enough to outweigh it?
This week something jangled me. Took me out of my nice comfort zone and had me sweating and a bit tremulous actually. Let’s just say an old clerical error that I didn’t even know about, but with financial consequences, came back to haunt me. Not exactly the IRS, but just as bad. Coughing up the payment was painful but brief. What jangled me was the worry, the fear of the unknown. “If I didn’t know about this, what else is lurking out there?” Several hours of the “what if’s” later, and after trying – and failing – to find relief with a bunch of my usual centering techniques, I finally asked myself: “How big a dose of this fear am I willing to take?”
And after careful consideration, I decided that I’d already had a sufficient dose, thank you very much, and it was time to get on with life as I enjoy it. In this case, the dose was self-administered and I’d had enough.
So I thought I’d share my experience, maybe inspire you to consider – not only about what emotions you’re dosing yourself with – Fear? Anger? Joy? Love? Appreciation? – but also how big a dose you’re taking. When it’s self-administered you’re the only one who can decide. I think some thoughts should come with warning labels.
Photo by Hans Von Rijnberk on Flickr Creative Commons