Exit Stage Left, Scene 2

Now, where were we? Ah, yes, my meditation on the importance our emotional comfort should play in driving our decisions.


Have you noticed how often we are told that emotional sensitivities are so central to our considerations that they dictate everything from individual lives to world events? To wit, reports on how certain groups become enraged if they feel that their national pride or deity of choice has been insulted. Honor killings. The likeability factor of presidential candidates. Higher tv ratings for a story of a rescued puppy than coverage of the debt ceiling or the dwindling levels of reading comprehension amongst third graders. Weeks long, national coverage of a story involving the abduction of some comely, white child—as sad as this is for the people immediately involved, why does this merit national attention? The answer to all of these questions comes right back to plucking our heart strings.


I am not a champion of some emotionless, Spock-like world where people go through life making all their choices based on cold logic. After all, emotions are what make life meaningful—our connections to the world around us—we have attachments and they enrich our lives immeasurably. But to allow our transitory and ever shifting feelings to dictate our choices and decisions is selfish and immature. Think of the person I wrote about last post who put the kibosh on their spouse’s family retreat due to their vague sense of discomfort. What examples, in your life, can you think of where you or someone you know made choices because their feelings overrode their common sense and discipline? Looking back, how successful do you consider that strategy? Would you do things differently now?


So, back to you and wanting to exit stage left when confronted by a situation that makes you ill at ease. What if you didn’t leave? What if you forced yourself to override your discomfort and rode this one out? Might there by a higher purpose served by such a choice? What if it weren’t as bad as you feared? And even if it turns out to be excruciatingly awkward or unpleasant, that’s all it will be. It won’t kill you. You might even discover that you’re stronger than you believe. 


By withstanding this test, allowing yourself this experience, you may even build up some endurance and it’ll be easier on you the next time something unpleasant or awkward arises. If you do decide to absent yourself, at least you’ll be doing so more calmly, knowing why you are doing it. Not acting like a chicken with its head cut off. 


The experience of serenely standing your ground opens up far more doors over the course of your life than running away. It may not involve the emotional fireworks of reality tv, but you don’t want to be like that anyway. A successful re-booter has intimate familiarity with discomfort and awkwardness, but can see beyond this storm of emotion to a higher and more substantive existence. It’s not that there aren’t circumstances when it’s better to leave, but do so thoughtfully without the emotion we’re all “supposed” to be expressing. At least try it on for size. Stage left is always there.


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