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Groggy Morning Emails
Mom with a View

Groggy Morning Emails

How my day got ruined by one annoying message.


I woke up early this morning, imagining how productive I would be before the phone started ringing and all the loud demands of the day interrupted my concentration. I no longer have small children at home – you know, the ones with that unerring instinct about when you wake up early, expecting some free (or me) time and get up early as well – so I felt justified in anticipating this quiet time.

But I made a classic mistake. (Is it classic if a result of relatively new technology?!) I checked my emails before beginning to write/think. There was one annoying email in my inbox and my day was thrown off.

The good news is that it led to contemplation. The bad news is that my day was thrown off. Obviously the first thing I contemplated was not checking my emails first thing in the morning! Yet the compulsion is so strong. My phone is right beside my bed. I barely have to open my eyes…

But I'm going to stop this habit (really, I am) because, even though there isn't always a frustrating note there, it is nevertheless not a peaceful way to start my day. It doesn't put the spiritual component first.

Defenses Down

The second thing I contemplated was why I deemed the email "annoying." It wasn't an ad hominem attack (there have been those), it wasn't even critical (there have been those). It was just a request for information that I didn't want to reveal. It felt invasive, intruding on my space.

There is a lot of intrusion these days but that doesn't explain my annoyance. I could just say no. (Remember Nancy Reagan?!) But I let it get personal. I let it get inside. And that was the more important insight.

No one can "make" you mad or "make" you happy.

I shouldn't react like that. As I'm always telling my kids, my students, and anyone else who will listen, our reactions are within our control. No one can "make" you mad or "make" you happy. They can do mean things or kind things, but our response is in our hands.

So too with this email. It was only annoying because I deemed it so. It was only annoying because I reacted with annoyance. I didn't have to react that way. I could have been calm and matter-of-fact. I could have even just gone back to bed!

This was a helpful wake-up call for me (no pun intended). In allowing emails to frustrate me, I am giving these inanimate, elusive, undefined objects a power over my life and my emotions. How foolish!

In the future, I need to be a bit more awake before checking emails. Our defenses are down and our emotions are harder to control when we are tired or sleep-deprived. After a cup of coffee, a shower (and my morning prayers if I follow the dictates of my first insight), the world looks different. I can open my inbox in a calmer and more rational mood. I can choose when and how to respond.

At the very least, I've got to stop checking emails before being fully awake!

November 22, 2014

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 7

(6) Chana, November 30, 2014 1:24 PM

So true! (And I agree with #3's suggestion)

I think so many of us can relate.
As much as I appreciate the upside of email, it really does allow people to tell you things that they wouldn't call you to tell you or send you a letter about. At this point, I get a pit in my stomach before checking my email and only check it once or twice a day -- or not at all. This is despite not having any real horror stories. But those few difficult incidences are enough. You really never know what will show up in your inbox.
Yeah, I hate those invasive emails. Someone just decides to tell you what to do with your life (without having a real understanding of your situation) and in doing so, inadvertently lets you know what they really think of you. It's irritating at best and very hurtful at worst. The fact that it's often unexpected also twists the knife.

(5) Jonathan, November 28, 2014 5:07 AM


Suggestion: When you get an annoying email just DELETE it!! Delete it physically and delete it from your mind. OUT OF SIGHT OUT OF MIND!!! Remember, as you said, we can respond to external stimuli in any way that we feel fit. It takes experience and a bit of time but is well worth it. Don't allow a stupid email to run your life. DELETE!!! GONE - IGNORE AND FORGET. NOT WORTHWILE ALLOWING IT TO UPSET YOUR DAY.

(4) Sheila Novitz, November 27, 2014 4:44 PM

Upsetting night-time e-mails

Thank you for your lovely little essay. I am smiling because I thought it was "only me." Trouble is I am drawn to the laptop very late at night, and there I see my new mail, much of which invariably upsets me. And then there is great difficulty falling asleep, not because I think about the mail but on account of the dreadful feelings left within me. BUT, I think you have helped me solve my problem by writing about it. Now I know to try and change my attitude, and to read e-mails when I am truly prepared for them in spirit. Thank you!

(3) Anonymous, November 27, 2014 4:44 PM

No checking e-mail before davening

I used to always check my e-mail when I picked up my phone in the morning to go to shul. I also checked the news headlines for 2 seconds. Last week I saw the news about the attack in Har Nof which of course messed up my concentration. I resolved to try not to check e-mail or news until after I have davened so I can have a clear head.
This morning after shul, I checked my e-mail and saw one that had been sent overnight that was very annoying. If I had seen it before shul, I would have stressed over it while davening. I am so glad I have my new policy!

(2) Nancy, November 26, 2014 10:02 PM

Please reread your last paragraph and last sentence

Dear Emuna Braverman,
I believe you have solved the problem by writing about it. Perhaps none of us should check our emails until we have said our morning prayers. That first cup of coffee would be helpful as well.

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