On Tuesday, I was woken at 4.29am by a severe dizzy spell when I rolled over in bed and for a minute it felt like I was going to fall off the edge of the earth. Fortunately it was short-lived and I was only a bit woozy and jaded afterwards, but enough to know there was no way I could safely get in my car and go to work in a few hours’ time.
The problem with this happening on this particular day was the arrangement I’d made to spend the day with a new staff member who was travelling from out of town especially, as well as being on chauffeur duty for my visiting boss from Australia. The “old me” would have dosed up on migraine medication and attempted to do all as planned. The “new me”, however, knows that doing this represents potential jeopardy to the ongoing recovery of my health, so instead of popping pills I sent the necessary messages and after making myself some breakfast, donned my eye mask and ear plugs, and fell back into the slumber my body was craving.
3 hours later, at 9.36am, I woke to 8 text messages, 6 missed calls and 21 e-mails which, on the face of it, was a shock, until I realised that on any given weekday this is the usual volume of activity my phone sees – it’s just that normally I’m awake and at the ready when they start!
It took continued, conscious effort all day to keep my guilt in check over reshuffling plans, but the effect of doing this on my physical and mental state was profound, and reinforced to me how valuable my recognition and acknowledgement of self-imposed stress stemming from guilt being a barrier to complete health restoration, was.
Guilt is a fascinating emotion. In a way it serves us well, helping us identify how we may have strayed from our behavioural morals. To that extent, for those who regularly check in with their emotions and are willing to explore them and their reasons, guilt is useful. It signals that we need to apologise to someone, or not eat the other Toblerone hiding in the back of the cupboard. For the most part I do well at this.
For those who carry on in emotional ignorance, guilt is quite destructive. It harbours other emotions such as worry and anxiousness, and can be stressful to an individual. This is where I now know my emotional intelligence level was amateur, at best – harbouring stress as a result of guilt over not being able to perform for others (my employer, my staff, my family, my friends).
It is through a lot of self-reflection I’ve learned this about myself, and I am learning to let go a bit more as the weeks go by. It is gradual and takes some effort, but boy is it freeing.