Imagined Emergencies

Life & Work

Yesterday was a terrible day.

There were 50 mph winds and heavy, heavy rains here, and our basement is prone to flooding during exceptionally bad conditions. Yesterday was one of those days. My basement is not finished in, but my wife’s craft room for her business and our family closet are down there, along with lots of storage.

In short — it’s the kind of stuff you don’t want to be drenched with water, even in an unfinished basement.

While the water was gushing in, Tiffany was understandably upset. Things were getting wet, it was still early in the day, water was pooled up, and it was not looking good. She was afraid lots of stuff was going to get ruined. Couldn’t blame her.

For some reason, I did not have the same reaction. Somehow I knew everything was going to be just fine.

I tried to stay calm and think it through. I’d go to Home Depot and purchase some air movers made for water restoration. It would be $300-$400, but we’ve needed them anyway. No biggie.

So I did that. Got very wet in the process. Removed as much water as I could manually and let the air movers do their thing. Great results so far. They are still running and will need to be repositioned and run over the next few days. But the rain is long gone, and that I can tell, nothing has sustained major damage.

While I was eating lunch after getting the air movers set up, the thought struck me of how that situation was handled. It was a real emergency. Water entering your home when it should not is always an emergency — it can be so destructive.

But in that moment I came up with a plan and made it happen.

Then I thought about other times that happened, like when I took a major chunk out of my thumb with a broken porcelain mug at home, with two of my kids, after my wife had left about an hour before to take my other kids to her parents’ house. There was lots of blood. Months of recovery. And a huge scar to remind me that the past is real. But in the moment when it happened, I was surprisingly calm. I immediately accepted the reality of the bad situation, slowed down my heart rate, thought logically about the next move and called 911, and went on with it from there.

Or the time I lost a $1,200/month client a couple years ago that, at the time, was paying a lot of my bills. It was unfortunate, but it happened. I stayed level headed, prayed a lot, kept executing on the basics, and it worked out.

The real insight came next — when there’s no real emergency, I have terrible anxiety.

When I’m thinking about a client that might leave, a situation that could happen, a loss I could experience, a potential problem in my business, my heart races, I’m anxious, and I have an unhealthy sense of urgency that makes me not fun to be around. Even now I feel the feeling. My heart rate is slightly elevated, I’m a little cold, and there’s worry in my spirit.

And for what?


These Imagined Emergencies are the cause of so much anxiety, stress, confusion, and more. They make us run around like a chicken with our head cut off. They cause us to make decisions we know aren’t the right move. They change our attitude, and usually not for the better.

I don’t know if this is helpful for you — I think I just am this way, so I’m not sure it’s even something that can be changed. But it would probably be wise to reflect on how you’re currently showing up in this way. My wife said she’s the opposite — the imagined emergencies don’t bother her, but when something real bad is happening, the anxiety and emotional trauma go through the roof.

Whatever mold you fit, at least if you’re aware of it, you can do something about it. Consider ways you can brush off the imagined emergencies if you experience them. They are not serving you, and there’s nothing you can do about it anyway (since it’s not real).

Jan 10, 2024

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Hey, I'm Steve — a Christian, entrepreneur, thinker, and creator. Thanks for stopping by!

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