The manner in which I process the world is firstly internal. Something happens, whether good or bad, and I send it through a thirty-organ process before I am able to physically respond. Often, I don’t even realize my body is computing an emotional response until it blurts out in word vomit on someone else’s shocked face or I’m caught in an inexplicable bout of darkness with nubby fingers and bitten nails stuck in my teeth.
I certainly believe there are many benefits to being an internal person. I am grateful for my appreciation of deep-thinking and fresh ideas, my slow-to-speak persona, and my sensitivity to others which is threaded through all. Still, as every strength has a downside, being an inwardly focused individual, I have my fair share of personal challenges. Most dangerous of all, my kryptonite is that my emotional response to a stressful situation can quickly turn from internal-processing to escapism. It’s as if I go bungee jumping off the edge of the earth without a bungee. I leap into the chasm that is myself, and too often I get lost, not knowing how I got there or how to get back out.
I’m challenging myself this week to recognize when I turn inwardly–not because internal processing is bad (it’s really good)–but, because it is beneficial to know myself and when I tend to slip into that chasm, so I can start to learn how to bungee wisely back out of the darkness. Perhaps when I catch myself becoming inwardly focused, I can make intentional efforts toward outward action so that I don’t stay inside–I don’t get lost in myself. And maybe, I can refine my abilities of processing internally. I could organize the filing cabinets of my mind and implement pragmatic systems that make it a lot easier to not get lost within myself.
I think of my wife, and of how I can help her when I’m plummeting internally. It can be difficult to communicate with her (or with anyone for that matter) in an inward moment, but it could be highly beneficial, both to her and to me as to our marriage, if I could take an outward step toward conveying my internal gear-shifting. She is my number one, my coach, my partner; she can encourage me while still allowing appropriate time to process internally what I need to work through.
I honestly don’t know if this piece has a bullseye. I don’t think I’m landing on any profound new idea or even offering a shot at wisdom. This piece might be an example of my internal processing. So, in summary, my goal is to recognize when I am becoming internal, identify when I’m slipping from internal-processing to unhealthy escapism, take healthy outward steps so as not to get lost in myself, and refine my ability to cope with stress in a manner that honors my bend toward internalization without bowing down to it.
Man, that’s a lot…and easier said than done.