Emotional Proprioception

It sits slightly to the left of center. I look down, trying to pinpoint it, or rather to enclose it—it’s not a point, nor even an area, but a volume of feeling. I’m not quite sure where my heart is, but this is a bit below where I think of that. Contrary to cliche, it’s not down at my stomach; it’s not “in the pit”. And it’s very definitely slightly to the left of center.

It’s maybe the size of my two hands together: one hand in a fist, the other wrapped around it. It’s not colder than the surrounding area, though it’s definitely not warmer. (There’s not a sharp division between “inside” and “outside”, either.) It’s not empty, either, so I can’t call it a “void” or anything. No, the primary feeling is tighter; at that I’ve reminded myself that I’m tense, all over, but this is something slightly different. Related, though, perhaps.

I’ve never had a true panic attack, so I can’t really say if this is similar. Some kind of indecision is linked to this…space…however. The common form of this is when I have so many things to do I procrastinate, avoiding starting any of them; this is something baser, perhaps, but related. The sense that I very well might be past the point of no return, that all of these things may come crashing down.

(In the past one of my internal metaphors for having many things to do has been surfing along the inner curve of a breaking wave, despite not being a surfer; another is that thing where you have to keep the disks on top of spinning poles from falling off. Curiously, neither showed up today.)

The abstract feeling, that’s been hovering over me for a while in the form of General Stress, is certainly impacting my performance. I have less focus on tasks and less patience and politeness with people. Getting less sleep hasn’t helped either, though that’s not really due to this.

Today I notice it has coalesced, or deepened into something more tangible.

This is the anticipation of Letting People Down.

It’s linked to Analysis Paralysis and to Imposter Syndrome, at least for me.

I stop and consciously note the feeling, remember to write about it for NaCreSoMo, and continue on to lunch.


This is an actual experience I had today. I have a lot of things I’m signed up for at work right now, and yes, it’s stressing me out. But a large part of why it’s stressing me out is because I think they’re all worthy goals, and I want them to succeed; moreover, they’re all things that I’ve now effectively promised to people I respect at work.

(I’ve talked to various people about commitment and over-commitment and my general attitude on both, but I don’t think I’ve actually blogged about it here. I’ll save that for a future post.)

Noticing this feeling today is, I think, a good thing, both for mental health and for trying to practically evaluate what we can actually accomplish before [deadline]. What’s particularly paralyzing about the current set of things on my plate is that all of them are “high-priority”, in that there is some sort of benefit if they get done sooner rather than later. I hate this sort of “triage” separately from hating to disappoint people.

I’m okay, though. All of this is things I like, or at least in support of things I like, and I’m going on vacation in April. Don’t worry about me. :-)

Part of NaCreSoMo; join us!

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