I taught a music class a couple weeks ago that turned into a message about reality vs perception and how that shapes our behavior. I started with the song “what a wonderful world” by Louie Armstrong and weaved this happy-go-lucky song into a lesson about how much our environment can affect our mood based on our perception about what is actually going on. We talked about our feelings during the beginning instrumentals and our thoughts on the lyrics of funny songs. We talked about how something as simple as music can change a person’s mood so drastically. If you’re upset and listen to a slow or dramatic song it may very well exemplify your sadness, while on the other hand, an upbeat tune can lighten your internal landscape.
By the end of class we were discussing our power of choice allowing us to alter our realities (even mildly, like through music) and thereby our perception. Perception is simply a collection of thoughts and beliefs that make the scale tip one way or the other. Either creating a positive or negative mood. There’s the old cliche about the glass half full or half empty. Both are correct. Both are reality. Whichever I choose to see is my perception of reality and my perception will ultimately affect my behavior.
The lesson ended with my trying teach them about coping skills for our emotions, ways our perception is affected, the power of choice and how we can change our behavior.
Time after time when things are challenging I find myself saying “why can’t it just be easy?!” or “why does everything have to be so difficult?!” The fact is I’m simply not taking responsibility for choosing the struggle. I look for challenges and find struggle. I enjoy overcoming them and helping others work through emotional baggage. Sometimes it can swallow me up and I allow myself to feel like the victim, the one it’s happening to. It’s critical to remind myself to find balance. I need space sometimes, but pulling away from the vortex of energy in my life isn’t easy. It’s easier to stay in it and complain. That’s normal. Just because it’s socially acceptable doesn’t mean I want to be that person. I want to be the person that is a guiding light for others, someone unafraid of the unknown.
Our journey makes us who we are. I love my boyfriend and his deep passionate love. Our life is not easy together but it’s my choice. I had easy. My ex-husband was my best friend. We had a blast together, rarely fought and were a great team. If we did argue it was more like family than lovers, and romance usually ended in laughter. I needed that then but when I was ready for us to graduate to being intimately closer it was clear that we had come to an end, abruptly. I thought that was love, and it was. I thought it was love I wanted, and it was. I thought it was the love that I would want forever, but it wasn’t. I remember wishing we could fight and make up because I wanted the rush, the spark. We didn’t. I have that now and sometimes miss the calm dullness of great friendship over a passionate love affair. Then I hike and write and talk and be still and remember… I want this, I asked for this, every single part of it. I wanted to feel alive. I wanted feel crazy about someone and for him to feel the same. I have that. Now I want both. I love my life and cherish every moment of battle I choose to put myself in.
We all handle crises differently and I seem to have my fair share of them this last year. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m more capable of handling them, I’m seeking them out or being tested. Either way it can be taxing. Never have I needed more alone time to recharge than now. I feel as though sitting and resting is how I want to spend a lot of my time lately but when I do I think of all the things I want to be doing instead; exercising, writing, reading, watching a show, planning a trip, making more money, learning another language, learning an instrument, calling friends and family, improv, going back to school and the list goes on. Trying to rest seems more tiring than addressing all the crises that seem to come up. It’s as if my brain can’t seem to slow down and even more challenging when I actively try to do so. It’s time to give myself processing space again.
Some people are better when they stay very busy, others need to address crisis head on. Some avoid it, some crumble under the stress, some become victims, others become warriors. Some complain and some express gratitude. I strive to be the warrior but have been them all. In the past I have always wanted to face a crisis head on but now I’m learning other approaches. Sometimes evading is necessary until I’m more prepared. Humor and music, redirection and refocus can also help to manage conflict, crisis and troubling circumstances.
I fully embrace all the challenges I have invited and continue to invite into my life because they are simply vehicles for growth. Opportunities to strengthen my resiliency, perseverance, strength and bravery. I’m grateful for everything in my life, especially the crises.
How do you manage crisis?