Updated: Mar 23, 2021
I woke up and looked at my Apple Watch, a habit that gets kicked off by turning off the morning alarm that buzzes my wrist. I noticed 30 new iMessages, which for some might feel upsetting, but for me it's interpreted as a busy family group chat. My brother and sister-in-law live in London, and my mom typically wakes up much ealier than I do, it's not unusual for them to be communicating hours before I rise.
Two of these unread messages was a message from my dad to my husband and me: one was a link to a news article about the gunman who shot 10 people in Boulder, Colorado yesterday, followed by a message asking us to please consider moving to a different city (Tony and I have toyed with the idea of moving to Boulder sometime in the semi-near future).
My initial reaction was frustration. My thoughts included:
One lone gunman cannot accurately represent the violence of an entire city. Surely he realizes this.
How are we supposed to judge future homes by mass shootings? This is America, where everyone has a gun, an opinion, and a temper!
Wow, the shooter was the same age (21) as the shooter in Atlanta just a few days ago. So young. I'm not entirely surprised, as growing up in today's could easily lead to violent actions depending on what you're consuming.
Why would he send this first thing in the morning? Why does he insist on saturating his waking moments with fear and self-defense and worry?
Why does he insist on finding the worst case scenarios in life and broad-brushing them across life in general?
My emotions included:
Frustration and exasperation.
Sympathy, compassion, and pity
Anger and indignation
Side note: By the way, the layout of the bullet points of my emotions correspond with the layout of my bullet pointed thoughts, isn't it funny how my mind went to sympathy, compassion, and pity for the murderer and anger, frustration, etc. for my own father?! Wow. I felt I had to defend our potential plans of moving to Boulder from my father, but could find sympathy for a total stranger who had committed heinous acts of violence.
So, it was a lot to be experiencing internally while still not fully awake. Jumping into my workout clothes, feeding the cats, and heading to the treadmill, these thoughts continue to swirl and the emotions continued to bubble, and before I realized it, I was fully engulfed in a "bad mood" of my own making.
Over two text messages.
From my dad, who I love dearly, and who I know is only concerned for my and my husband's wellbeing.
My entire morning experience up to the point of stepping on the treadmill had been an automatic, reactive, and compounding domino effect of the initial self-defense interpretation my semi-awake mind slapped on 2 of 30 text messages.
How often does this happen to you? A single stimulus receives the lower-energy-labeling of "this is threatening me, my relationships, my dream, my plans, my sense of self, etc." automatically, and then sends us into a mental and subsequently emotional space entirely NOT to our preference, but entirely of our own making?
For me, my morning workout routine helps to clear out any of this unpreferred fog. Physical activity to me is like a good hosing down of all the thoughts I work daily to reprogram, giving me a clean slate to intentionally gather thoughts that serve me, my relationships, and my vision.
What works for you?