We all get stressed out and tired. Terri and I faced this pretty much everyday of our long Camino walk to Santiago. Day after day of walking all day long takes its toll on you. There were many days we arrived at our destination for the night just completely spent and worn out. This level of effort put us under stress both physically and emotionally.
Then upon arriving at our accommodations for the night, we were often in close quarters with many other very tired and stressed pilgrims. This can put more stress on you as you we all are sharing the same limited resources (showers, clothes washing areas, sleeping areas). Emotions can run high and it can be hard to be patient and kind and not fall into being frustrated or rude and angry to others. This is what I wanted to reflect today.
So when I am tired and stressed, what is happening in my brain and how do I behave under this condition?
Here are some of my thoughts:
- My brain loves efficiency and so the habits I have formed in our brain will tend to be my default behavior when I am under stress
- The virtues we develop, like, say patience, don’t just happen without the discipline. It takes practice to develop a virtue.
- Being raised with blessing of parents and teachers to guide me in the time tested values of Christianity has shaped my brain to love the virtues like patience and self control.
- I also recognize I have a brain that is able to change and build new pathways so I can eventually over time become a more patient person if I truly want this virtue in my life. It is a choice I can freely make.
- I understand that emotions come like the weather and are NOT bad. I also understand that they I can call them out and I can guide them with my reasoning and faith, much like a loving father with his children.
Did I succeed in being a patient and kind to my fellow pilgrims? Well, I would like to say yes but I would be lying. I do know the success I did have, felt good when I did and drove me to want to do it again.
We are all work in progress and we can really assess how far we have come when we observe how we do when we are tired and stressed. Do I like the way I have behaved? Do I hate the way I behaved? It is good to reflect on our behavior when under stress as it provides us with the measure of our progress on the path to being the “best version of ourselves”.
So, paying attention and listening to our emotions is good. What we do next is what matters most, though.
Blessings and grace,
Photograph of the Week
This is a photograph I captured during our trip to Scotland back in 2016. It is in the Highlands of Scotland a beautiful area of the world and I wish we had more time there. I revisited this image recently to put some “painterly touch” to it.