Monday, November 25, 2013


I found an interesting Yale Course in YouTube about emotion and health. I already knew some of the important points; the most important ones are: sleep is important in processing emotions and one should have a lot of sleep to be able to process emotions and experiences; secondly, anxiety is more of my affliction rather than fear as fear refers to a present danger (i.e.  tiger chasing you) while anxiety refers to a future event. One of the cures of anxiety is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and so I am back to the old ball game of analyzing my emotions via CBT though there seem to be an escape from work and doing my usual self-diagnosis: anxiety is attributed to a.) New work assignment, b.) Increased work load and c.) Emotional disorders like anxiety, all of which contribute to a paralysis. I have reached a level of near incompetence due to paralysis and as the lecture shows maybe due to the fact that the situation is more than a match to my personal capabilities.  Hence, the solution maybe longer sleep periods and CBT and plus other mental techniques that help one handle emotional distress.

Churchill was an emotional man, crying often during times of sentimentality, unafraid to express his emotions and at times childish, though he has admitted episodes of depression - his ‘black dog’ he calls it every time he succumbs to his personal disorder. In my case, I am unable to proceed with the increased workload, attacking the tasks in a piecemeal and delayed manner, giving the impression of being overwhelmed while still indulging in time wasters and abusive and procrastinating behavior. But I realize it is not a lack of technical skills but the emotional reaction to the stress or pressure of work.  I have seen or worked close to people who have mastered high pressure jobs, though succumbing now and then to physical ailments. Sometimes the ‘monkey mind’ is all over the place, for instance thinking of one’s possession, his house, his station in life: trying to see if more effort is needed. Visiting the different houses of my wife’s relatives in Canada made me want to compare my own house, to determine if I had succeeded. It is the pressure of the rat race that drive one to retail therapy, the consumption mentality talked about in ‘The Millionaire Next Door’ and ‘Time to Think’.

I am glad that I could understand my personal challenges by watching a YouTube lecture from Yale. In fact, I was not able to work during the three days at home; preferring to read and watch movies or videos instead of working. But indeed I am on vacation and I am not obligated to work since I am supposed to be relaxing. This is the guilty conscience; attributing stimuli like text messages or phone calls and giving sinister meaning and realizing that it is not fear but anxiety that is causing the paralysis. It is just that I am unable to move, fearful of what I will find in my emails and unable to respond to the situation at hand, being inadequate to the challenge, aware that there maybe people waiting for me to fail. But I realized during my vacation that I needed to cross a threshold, to grasp what is mine, to throw away all that self-defeating thoughts and, yes, to cure mania or obsessive compulsive behavior that keeps my mind and emotion in the same wrong patterns of thought. This is the problem that I had neglected to understand focusing on surface therapy:   meditation, exercise and journal writing with some CBT thrown in.

But I have already crossed the threshold both physically and figuratively in a rapid manner and it is the temporary disorientation that one gets, still unable to get one’s bearings as one faces a new set of challenges; one’s skill sets being tasked if one does not throw out the garbage of the past. It all makes sense from an intellectual and technical perspective but it is the emotional component that is not up to speed. Therefore one is prone to anxiety, an emotional disorder that need to be addressed by sleep, relaxation and CBT. I had wanted to achieve some distance in my work while on vacation which I had achieved but now I am back in the grindstone, relaxed but facing the same set of challenges. It was my friend’s remark that controlling one’s emotion is the key, setting a course of unconscious research that culminated in my finding the YouTube video about emotion and health. The previous day I had watched a lecture from Robert Shiller, coming back the next day to find for his lectures on finance and fining the series on emotion. Perhaps it was serendipity coupled by desperation.

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