Ever been one of those adjectives and tried to make a good decision? Or tried to respond appropriately to a given situation? Doesn’t work very well. More likely, we’ll react on impulse and it won’t be pretty.
Let’s try this instead. First, let’s stop (HALT*) and ask if we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. Once we’ve identified the problem, let’s respond:
1) Hungry: This sounds really simple, right? Eat! Well, it could be that we’re thirsty and we really just need some water. Or maybe we ate not long ago, but it was the wrong food. Or it was pop when we really needed water. Sugar crash? Try some protein or some fresh veggies. The worst part about hunger is that the easiest food to grab is usually the worst option. If our options are limited, let’s skip the candy bar and bag of chips and reach for the nuts instead.
2) Angry: Identify the source. Is there anything we can do about it? I should rephrase that. Is there anything positive we can do about it? Not sure? Check this out: In your anger. If nothing good will come out of it, our best option is to give it to God. Yep, that sounds cliche’, but it really is the best option. For more on that, click here: Moment by Moment
3) Lonely: Phone a friend? Maybe it’s the friend who upset us and now we’re angry with them and lonely because we can’t call them to talk about it. Sometimes just knowing that we’re upset because we’re lonely, identifying the source of the “ick”, is enough to help us get past it. Let’s take a look at our schedule. What’s next? What is the next best thing to do right now? Fold the laundry or put away the dishes? Sometimes moving on to the next thing is enough to breathe some fresh air into our day. And, all the while, don’t forget that God is always there. I know that it’s good to have someone “with skin on” to help work through the loneliness, but know that God is always longing to talk to us. Having trouble hearing Him? Read this: Hearing Aids
4) Tired: This one sounds simple too. Take a nap! Well, that’s not always practical. If I can grab a five minute cat-nap, sometimes that’s all it takes. Set an alarm and close my eyes. Even if I don’t fall asleep, a little time with my eyes closed can help clear my mind and gain new perspective. But if a nap is out of the question, what’s something else that can help us wake up? Music? Playing my favorite song, singing along, dancing along, even if I’m driving (as long as my eyes are on the road and my hands are on the wheel), can be just the medicine I need to get me where I need to go.
The thing I like best about HALT is the awareness of what’s really going on. All is not lost, the world is not coming to an end, it’s not time to fall into a pit of despair. It’s just hunger, or lack of sleep, or the fact that the person I called to help solve my problem couldn’t help me, leaving me angry for wasting my time calling in the first place and lonely because I really needed someone who could help. But it’s okay. We don’t have to sit “in the grip” of those feelings. We can do something about it.
Seth Godin put it this way in his blog post called Retribution: “When we react to a medicine, that’s a bad thing. When we respond, it’s working.” We can choose to respond to the situation we’re in instead of reacting on impulse. Beth Moore once said that “kindness wears down when we do.” When we’re worn out, we react, and it’s usually not kind. And then we have guilt and regret to deal with. There must be a better way.
Life is hard. It takes endurance. Things are going to go wrong. There are going to be problems. But there is hope and I wrote about that here: Decide to Keep Deciding. I hope you’ll read it, especially at the beginning of a New Year. What will our year be like? When we look back a year from now, what do we want our year to have been about? A series of problems and irritations, pits and valleys? Or do we want to grow up a little more this year? End the year a little wiser? Is there a way to prepare for the problems that will come?
An old Cherokee told his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth.” The boy thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?” The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.” – Author unknown
Which wolf will we choose to feed this year?
*Special thank you to Jack Wilson for sharing this information with me and John so many years ago. Jack, you are a blessing to so many people.