Yesterday, I wrote a blog post about how my pets were jerks and they ruined my mood an entire day (see below if you want). After writing it all out, I realized it was dumb, and I’d written it before. Yes, my animals did annoying things that kept me from sleeping. But they didn’t do them on purpose, with malice. They were not being assholes. Being an asshole is strictly a human endeavor that I project onto other creatures when I don’t understand their behavior. I realized that instead of ranting about how my day was ruined, perhaps I should delve into why I allowed my day to be ruined and how I could have worked to change that.
Ostensibly, my mood for the day was ruined by having to get up earlier than expected to deal with pet issues. Perhaps 5AM isn’t a good time for rational thinking, but maybe a couple of deep breaths would have kept me from getting worked up. I love Rio and I get up early with her when she needs to go so she doesn’t get bladder infections. Cats are cats, and try to escape/adventure when they can. Perspective is easier in retrospect. I think what set me off kilter was when Rio wanted to get up at 7 and go out again. I was mad. But Rio was in the routine I trained her to be in over the last two weeks. Every morning we go for a walk. It has been great for me since I don’t just stand there waiting for the dog to poop. I’m pretty sure Rio likes it because she gets to sniff new smells and expand her urinary messaging. And I broke the routine and got aggravated about it. Again it is easier to think about how to avoid ruining your mood in retrospect, but some good advice for future Jason.
Everyone has bad days, moody days, crabby days, down days and happy days, joyful days, humorous days, good days. For me it is hardly ever one thing. It is a series of things that happen, pulling me in a direction. On Sunday I let things get to me and instead of enjoying a nice Sunday with the family, I harrumphed around and called the cat an asshole. I wasn’t mean or spiteful or hurtful, I just was grumpy and that is OK.
I think the point I’m trying to get to is that I have to own my emotional state. The pets didn’t make me grumpy, I allowed myself to get frustrated over animal behavior. On Saturday, spending the day with Kate while Sara was working made me happy. It wasn’t necessarily that she did any one thing to make me proud or entertained, it was that I allowed myself to be in that moment, absorb that emotion and let it carry me through the rest of the day.
Inadvertently, I found my way into thinking about my goals for an emotional life. I think these are going to be more esoteric than pragmatic. Less about concrete benchmarks and more about being. So here they are, my goals for an emotional life.
Be emotionally aware: I think I’m mostly aware of my mood, especially how I express it externally. Being aware of the emotions that drive that mood will help me both be in the moment and keep me from letting the little frustrations build.
Be emotionally authentic: Just emote. It isn’t something I’m good at. This is why it is a goal. I’m introspective enough to generally understand my emotions and their root causes, but often I find my stoicism tends to tamp them down. This doesn’t mean I’m going to suddenly become a raging ball of emotive fury. What I think it means is to allow myself the space for an emotional response. Emotional authenticity is also about doing what feels appropriate for me. It very likely will be more internal than external, but that is OK.
Be emotionally available: While often this is taken as being more supportive, what I mean is that I need to clue in those around me about my emotional state. Emotion is personal to me. I’m not a big sharer. But allowing other in, particularly those I love, will help me communicate better and help them by giving a bit of additional understanding.
Find appropriate emotional outlets: As an internal emotive I tend to eat a lot of feelings, both literally and figuratively. Cheeseburgers don’t solve emotional problems. I think what this will be will be writing. It doesn’t have to be posted or read by other, but for me often just the idea of putting ink on paper (or text on a screen) helps me sort out complex feeling and alleviates the pressure that can build up from daily life.
I’m sure there will be more to add here but I think if I can be mindful of these emotional goals, I will have a pretty good emotional life.
To me the emotional freedom of toddlers is amazing. While they have limited ability to regulate those emotions, they express them with vigor.