Managing Information Overload
At no time has humanity been subjected to larger quantities of information like the present. Even if you are one who eschews television and newspapers, you are not immune. The drive to work gives you hundreds, even thousands of other drivers every day. There are road signs, billboards, even signs on vehicles. If you listen to the radio, there are commercials.
Unless you are one of the rare few who never has to look at a computer during your workday, you have emails, meeting requests, data and, thanks to the internet, more ads. You also have people, those information-filled creatures who cannot be avoided short of living alone on an inaccessible mountain top. That doesn’t even take into account all of the information which flows past you, virtually unseen. Why? Because, for the sake of our sanity, our brains filter what we see and only register a tiny portion it deems important; mostly for our survival, but with training, in other areas as well.
For example, we see thousands of cars, trucks and other vehicles every day, but do you notice much about them? Probably not. But when you buy a new car, suddenly you notice every vehicle on the road that is like yours, especially the ones that are the same color (yet another argument for avoiding white, black and silver). This also holds true for subjects which are important to you personally or professionally. Your brain works much like an email filter which looks for certain words or phrases. When you hear or see one, your attention automatically shifts.
Each of Us Has Our Own, Unique Triggers
This was really brought home to me today when an article about Gary Allen flashed by me. I caught the words “took her life” and immediately clicked on the story. Not only did I read it, I commented, and have, in fact, received comments to my comment. Why? Because losing a family member to suicide is a topic I’ve not only written about at length, but have lived through, not once, but twice. Because I’ve spent so much time reading and writing about the subject, it is a hot button in my brain. At least from where I sit, I believe this happens for a reason.
When my mom first passed, I had a lot going on in my life and it was all I could do to cope with the things I had to. I pushed feelings and unimportant stuff like grieving to the back of my mind, packed up nicely in unmarked, well-sealed boxes. As I got through things like raising kids, a divorce, a couple of layoffs and a company forced into bankruptcy, I took little notice of the strangely distorted box in the back of my mental file cabinet sizzling and twisting itself into frightening distortions of its former shape. When its lid finally yielded to internal pressure and blew off, it spewed all of those poorly contained feelings into every aspect of my life.
With the help of my friends, I survived that first eruption, gathering as much of the effluvia as I could and packing it into what I foolishly believed was a stronger container. This time, I also gathered myself and wrapped a container around me. In the process, I attracted all manner of ill-suited companions, none of whom were likely to stick around when things got rocky. Eventually, the inevitable occurred and I was alone with my kids; probably the absolute worst scenario for my dad to use his own methods to follow my mother’s lead. My own, personal day that will live in infamy is 9/11/03; 1 day before my daughters’ 16th birthday and 2 years after the attack that leveled the World Trade Center and sent America back to war.
We Find Our Strength by Digging Out From the Caverns of Our Minds
Fast-forward 5 1/2 years. I started writing a book about grieving a suicide victim. I had about 26,000 words but found myself falling into a pit of self-pity and blame so I put it aside and started a blog. Surviving and Beyond was the best, most healing thing I could have done for myself. I took the subject of suicide out of the closet where society prefers to keep things like suicide and homosexuality, to name just two. In so doing, over time, I came to understand that my parents’ choices had nothing to do with me, my sister, their families, their friends…they had to do only with themselves and where their lives and led them. I learned compassion for my mother with whom I had, for years, had an antagonistic relationship. I learned to appreciate the gift my father had given my sister and I. He spared us the agony he had suffered watching his mother die of lung cancer.
My little blog wasn’t finished with me though. It introduced me to others who had, for reasons of their own, spoken rarely, if ever, of their own experiences with losing a parent to suicide. I gave them someone who understood and they gave me back the same. Sometimes we just share a hug, sometimes its a thought which passed through our minds over the last week or so, and sometimes it’s the simple realization that in choosing to end their own life, they didn’t do so out of fear or selfishness, but simply because it was time.
‘Surviving and Beyond’ has moved on just as I have. I’ve renamed it ‘Leaps of Faith’, but not religious faith. It’s about faith in ourselves. It’s about trusting our gut when it says we need to make a big, scary change. It’s about trusting that we will succeed, and by succeed I mean, find our true happiness. Most of all, it’s about following our hearts, our passion, our true path, no matter how ridiculous, how unlikely it might seem.
My little blog has evolved, but I will always notice stories about suicide…and I will always find a way to add my 2 cents in a way that I hope will resonate with others and bring them some kind of comfort, or, if nothing else, someone who understands and will listen if they need to share. I do want to qualify that, though. I am not a wallower and I don’t have a lot of patience for those who want to whine, beat their chests and cry Woe is me!. I do respect those who see every experience as a lesson and who make the choice to figure out what that lesson is and learn from it. Thankfully, I seem to have communicated that effectively as I don’t see many who haven’t chosen to move forward despite the horrifically painful loss they’ve endured…and survived.
May all I touch find a way to go beyond simply surviving and learn to take those leaps of faith which lead them to a life of purpose, meaning and delight.
My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful that I can, if only in a small way, bring comfort to others through what I’ve learned from my own experiences.
2. I am grateful for another amazing, knee-abusing night of dancing.
3. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and the people who have come into my life at just the right time.
4. I am grateful for the blog topics which occur to me just when I think I have nothing to say.
5. I am grateful for abundance: business growth, love, inspiration, productivity, friendship, happiness, health, peace, harmony, prosperity and philanthropy.
I’d appreciate your taking a moment to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!