I used to be the smartest person in the room

boy screaming

throwing a tantrum

Why throwing a Big Fat Tantrum feels like a great option right now

I like to think of myself as having some level of emotional intelligence, but life feels a bit like I’m wrestling in a mud bath right now. There are a bunch of challenges and big changes in front of Lady D and myself and I’m not finding it all that easy to navigate my way through.

I know about emotional intelligence, and part of me knows that I can trust myself to ride through these challenges and changes, that I’ll come out the other end, and that life will go on. I tell myself that 58 years of living my life as I have, means I’ve earned the right to trust myself to manage, to decide and to do the right stuff.

But there’s also a hint of panic creeping in. What if this time I don’t get on top of the challenges, what if this time I slowly but inexorably spiral down into a deep black hole and what if this time I won’t find the way out?

I volunteer at a homeless support centre in Sydney called the Wayside Chapel, and I have met many people who have spiralled down into that black hole and many who don’t ever find the way out again.

Those people scare the bejesus out of me. I see them drag themselves through life, day in day out, and they freak me out. I’ve sometimes wondered how it’s possible that people allow themselves to disappear down that hole so deeply. I’ve always considered myself “better” than them, because I held the cocky belief I have the inner strength to pick myself up by the scruff of the neck and go and do something constructive.

But right now, I’m not so confident of that strength.

Crawling out of Trouble

And maybe that’s a good thing. To quote Graham Long, the CEO of The Wayside Chapel: “Whenever you find yourself thinking you are the smartest (strongest, most resourceful) person in the room… You’re in trouble.” Maybe I’ve been in trouble and now I’m crawling out!

And I remind myself that the last couple of years have brought significant change in my life and all of that change is bound to have an impact on me and to just allow it to take its course.

But it’s not that easy, is it?

There’s simple practicalities of life to consider.

It may be perfectly healthy to just let things develop as they will, but I need to get new clients, I need to find a new city to live in and buy a house, I need to make sure that things in our house in Holland go well, I need to support Lady D and I need to continue to develop my business and stay healthy.

And I’m not sure how to do all that. Actually, forget knowing how to do all that, I’m confused even about the steps to take, to arrive at that knowledge.

Lean into The Discomfort

In the past, in the days when I was more or less convinced that I was the smartest person in the room, I used to say stuff like: “Lean into the discomfort” and “Being lost in the wilderness is the only way to discover the hidden treasure” and “Trust you’ll have the answers deep inside you”.

There’s nothing like an Inspiring Facebook Meme to remind people you actually are the smartest person in the room, is there?

But it doesn’t feel so great when the shoe is on my own foot, and I’m not feeling so smart these days.

The Wave Form of Life

Graham Long talks about the wave form of life. We go from peaks to troughs and back up again. He makes the point that the impulse to stay on top of the peaks all the time, and never descend into the troughs, is the impulse of the addict.

wave form of life

And I get that, I really do. I accept that as soon as we find ourselves on the top of a wave, we’ll start heading down into the trough, every time. It’s just that these days I feel less certain about the opposite, about climbing out of the trough again. Or maybe it’s that I’m not so sure I’ve hit the bottom of the trough yet, maybe there’s a lot further to go, who can tell?

And while I’m here, what am I supposed to do? Swim? Or let the wave toss me about for a while?

One of the challenges I am currently struggling with is the fact that we’re going to have to leave Sydney, probably NSW, possibly even Australia. I won’t bore you with the reasons, suffice to say it’s a consequence of decisions we’ve made over the past 15 years. I am not regretting the decisions I’ve made, I believe they were entirely the right decisions for my life at that time, but ultimately it now means we can’t stay here.

Blind Freddy Could Have Seen This Coming

It’s not as if the situation we find ourselves in right now comes as a complete surprise. To be honest, Blind Freddy could have seen this coming 15 years ago, and what’s more, at least we have options, many more options than the people I meet at the Wayside have. But I don’t want those options. I resent being forced to choose one of them. What I really want is to throw a tantrum, stamp my feet, throw myself on the floor and scream at the top of my voice, until someone fixes things for me.

Not a good look for a big 58 year old, balding, overweight man (I tried it on my grandkids the other day, they were not impressed).

Lack of Conclusions

For the last hour, I’ve been procrastinating about how to continue this piece. One of the reasons I started writing this post was to help me clarify things for myself, and to make me feel like I was doing something constructive. But I’m stuck now. Not sure where to go next or how to finish up.

Normally, having arrived at this stage in an essay, I’d start drawing a conclusion and a lesson and then find a way to finish with my signature closing words: “I Promise you”.

But now that I’m not the smartest person in the room anymore, that formula doesn’t really work any longer. I don’t have a lesson, I don’t even have a conclusion for you…

Sorry about that.

I’ll just go and throw that Tantrum now… It will make me feel better… I Prom…


Would you like to download my free 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *