Fall is always a time of reflection for me. Every year, as my child returns to school, I am flooded with emotions. Luckily, one benefit of her departure is that I am finally afforded the time I need to examine all that I am feeling and thinking. Her absence allows me the ability to meditate with consistency, reassess my own goals for the year, and turn more energy toward my self-care routine.
I miss her terribly at times, and I will forever feel gut-punched as she physically separates from me, not even glancing back as she runs off toward her school, her friends, and her bright
future. It is the definition of bittersweet. I bask in the warm joy I feel as I see her grow and succeed, but my heart often aches as I recognize the distance between us growing with each passing day. Alas, this is the dichotomy of parenthood – creating safety, nurturing, and attachment, while simultaneously encouraging adventure, independence, and individuation. The emotions I feel for my child, my parenting skills, the start of a new year, the marching on of time, and the ubiquitous seasonal change from summer to autumn all deserve appreciation and awareness, without which I would be doomed to simply react rather than respond to these triggers.
Avoidance or denial of our emotional state leads to negative results and intense issues in the future. Despite the discomfort that is often felt when turning inward for reflection, it is a far better option than merely reacting to events in life, never fully in control of the self. This unawareness leads to lashing out at others, damaging relationships, emotional instability, and victim mentality. Without awareness of our own emotional state, we fall victim to whatever trigger is presented. It is recognition and awareness of our own internal state that gives us power and control.
To become successful in the quest for control over our lives, consistency is vital. If we desire power over ourselves, our thoughts, our reactions, we must consistently do the work to earn it. We must be vigilant in our self-awareness. In every situation that we are emotionally triggered, we must turn inward and explore the feelings, thoughts and sensations that arise in response. We surrender our power when we carelessly react to triggers. We lose control! It is only through careful reflection and awareness that we gain the ability to respond in a thoughtful manner. Thoughtful responses are infinitely better than lashing out after being emotionally triggered. It is not enough to simply recognize a feeling and then quickly move on. To fully understand the message our emotions send, we must go deeper than fleeting awareness. We need to take note of triggers, recognize patterns, turn focus to the emotion and explore the depths of our internal state.
Most people’s attempts to change for the better fail because they stop at insight and do not build healthy habits. True, sustained changes require development of new neural pathways through consistent daily practice. Be honest. Assess your commitment. How much time, effort and energy are you putting into your mental health? You have been gifted with 10,080 minutes every week. If you have committed a mere 50 minutes of that time to therapy, what are you doing with the rest of it?