Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Excuse #3 - Being Prepared Takes Emotional Energy

Let's be honest, there are things worth getting emotionally involved with, and things that are not.  My emotional energy is a limited resource, and I don't take kindly when people expect me to use it unnecessarily. 

For some people preparation is an emotional issue.  There are reasons we aren't prepared, and to get prepared we have to face those reasons.

Today's blog is an ongoing discussion into reasons we hate to get prepared.  The original blog can be found here and you can find links to each of the reasons below. 
  1. Preparing is expensive.
  2. Preparation takes time.
  3. Being prepared takes emotional energy.
  4. Getting prepared means I have to focus on negative situations.
  5. There is the chance I will never need to prepare at all.
Today we will discuss the concept of emotional energy.  (I hope I didn't just see anyone burst into tears.)  Unlike physical energy, which can be restored by eating well, exercising and sleeping regularly, emotional energy has a far more complex maintenance regimen.  For me, emotional energy is expended every time I care about an issue. Every time I have to correct my children, call customer service to resolve an issue, plan an event, rush around town to get errands completed, or deal with family issues, a little more of my emotional energy is drained.

Preparation for emergencies is, on the surface, a very logical activity.  However, for many, it is an exercise in facing unhappy events.  We will talk more next week about the concept of focusing on the negative, but today I want to acknowledge the emotions we face when thinking about illness and death.

When I put together Prepared Binder I called a funeral home and spoke with one of the employees at length.  I asked about the information needed to quickly get through the process of burying a loved one.  I asked about insurance, about funeral plans and prepaid arrangements.  I asked details about burial vs. cremation and even asked for detailed descriptions of where the body goes from the moment of death until the funeral.  I asked to see the paperwork required at the time of death and who was allowed to fill it out.  I wanted to know it all.

Then I got off the phone and cried.  I stood in my kitchen, hung my head and sobbed.  I was a very young mother at the time and I saw the ramifications to my family if I died.  I also thought of all the things I still wanted to do, the projects uncompleted and the things unsaid.  I wondered if my life had meaning, and if I was living up to my potential. I thought of not being able to hold my babies any longer, or kiss my husband.  And then I cried harder.

What had started as a logical information gathering exercise had turned into an emotionally draining afternoon.  Was I glad I had the information...YES!  Was I glad I knew what decisions needed to be made...YES!  Did I feel empowered to protect my family from the heartache of misinformation and confusion...YES!  But was I also emotionally drained, a little overwhelmed and very sad...YES!

So I did what any sane person would do, (I hear my family and friends laughing that I called myself sane - so stop that!) I let myself cry, and then I wrote the section about funerals for Prepared Binder.  I set out to help other people get prepared.  I could write a lot about how our end of life decisions affect others, but that will be in another blog, another day. The important thing is I got past it and was productive.

I chose when to ask the questions.  I chose when to learn about a difficult topic.  I did it on my terms.  I ran the show, I directed the conversation.  I was the master of my ship.  If I had waited until a close family member died I would not have had that luxury.  I would have been overwhelmed, emotionally exhausted, and pressured for a decision.  I would not have had the luxury of quietly sobbing in my kitchen.  I would have needed to pull it together and make choices immediately.

If given the choice, I want to decide when I am emotionally involved.   Taking the time to get prepared gives me the power to schedule my emotional involvement.  I am able to assign myself tasks I know I can handle, and get help on those I am afraid of.  If I wait, I may not have that power.

Being prepared does take emotional energy, but it also gives us power.  I choose to use the process of preparation, which I already know will have a positive outcome, to strengthen those parts of me which are week and help me face those things which I find hard.

So here you go, a challenge...Schedule a time to start preparing, and find power to face that which frightens you.  In the end, you will be stronger, and you will be glad.

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