Delilah Dawson, whom I follow on twitter, had a set of tweets back in 2018 about being okay with emotional triggers and the thoughts which often follow them.
On Being Okay
She commented that when she is close to burnout, and does something which triggers her (certainly for me, triggers occur when I feel afraid, I am mentally taken back to a past negative event or a genuine sense of anxiety or unease), she has a thought that really resonated.
She stated “I wanted to know when I would be okay with cleaning, when I would reach that level of maturity as an enlightened being. And that’s when it hit me: I WILL NEVER BE OKAY WITH IT.”
The phrase sent shivers down my spine.
I may never be okay with some of these triggers.
I don’t think you need to have experienced any particular trauma, to recognise that “when will I get past/over/through this?”
We’ve talked about thoughts before, but one of my most distressing thoughts since I was a teenager was the “one day I’ll be better/stronger than this, and it won’t hurt any more.”
And it was really interesting to notice my own bodily reactions to reading the twitter thread. In some ways, that hope of a better future is what motivated me to keep going, to work hard, to study Psychology and Neuroscience and I would even say, was the main sense of “potential” pull in my past.
In a way, losing that belief would give me slightly less hope.
But equally, we know from research that having achievable and realistic goals is motivating and in the long-run, more helpful than unrealistic expectations.
Balancing realistic expectations with hope and motivation to improve is a fine line, and I think this is a line that will change for each person, and will likely shift across time for even the same person.
Yet perfection or enlightenment do not look as we may often dream. We will always have emotions, experiences and reactions. Of course, through self awareness we can ‘improve’. I fully believe in working towards each step being more evolved than the last. We are capable of wisdom, of growth, and of development.
Growth is an interesting concept. Technically, every day we take in more experienced, processing information and sitting new anecdotes about the world. We thrive on a sense of progress, the feeling of improvement, of forward movement.
But equally, humans, on the whole, don’t like change. We any away from discomfort, and from pain. Because you know, reasons.
We are all works in progress.
What a predicament.
As Delilah says: “￼But the equilibrium doesn’t come from some impossible perfection; it comes from actively deciding that it’s okay to be imperfect.”
Yes, we can reach for our potential, but like the horizon, the is no time at which you will ever reach the end of such a journey. Potential is infinite, and it’s important to recognise the joy of the journey.
Think about your triggers; the things you hate or fear, and how you react to those moments. Because those aspects are not character flaws you need to fix. You need not conquer every single fear. Grow in a way that inspires you, and you’ll achieve all you need to.