Masculine Conversations

Masculine Conversations

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thankfulness Day 30: Strategies for emotional steadiness

Today I am thankful for the wisdom of Mums and Papa in teaching me how to "pull myself up by my own bootstraps" -- not that I shouldn't go to others for counsel or encouragement, but it is vitally important that every guy knows (and applies) coping strategies when he is discouraged or feeling low.

What are your coping strategies? I have four main go-to fixes that I employ alongside prayer:

1. Music. Music is an integral part of who I am. I love music, both classical and folk (Irish, American, Scottish), so often if I feel in need of a pick-up, I take a break, grab my violin, and play for ten minutes.

2. Outdoors/Hard Exercise. If I have a little more time available, I treat the blues with a good dose of hard physical exercise outdoors. A fast five mile run in the snow, a long ride over the Texas hill country with a brother, cross-country skiing with the family. . . it is easy to feel like the sky is falling down when sitting at a desk, but once outside in fresh air and activity, I can return to studies with new vigor and energy to tackle the biggest of problems.

3. Driving. I think I learned this one from my mother. Once in a blue moon, when we kids were young (and perhaps a bit of a handful...!), Papa would come home from work and take charge for a while so Mums could drive for a while on country roads. Often, a short 10 minutes on the road (we called it "taking the road to East Avenue") was all it took to give her fresh perspective and a chance to pray in the quietness of the car. Driving made her feel like a new person. I'm much the same way.

4. Writing. Last but not least, I use writing to sort through my feelings, especially if I am working through a difficult issue. In my journal or on the computer, I write my thoughts as they come to mind - first, I define the problem, then I explore my feelings about it. This is often all it takes to "write right through it", giving me the insight I needed, and helping me find God-honoring solutions.

Learning how to read my own feelings and guide myself back to a good place is a skill I am extremely grateful my parents taught me. It has served me well many times, and I am a firm believer that every guy should know himself well enough to intentionally discover unique strategies for his emotional success.

Oh, and if there is a good cook in the house, there's always coffee and chocolate mousse, a listening ear, a game of Settlers....

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