Monday, December 16, 2013

Almost Able to Fall Behind Anger

This morning my alarm did not wake me up, and I naturally woke up at exactly the time I should have been leaving for work. I thought to myself, “It’s going to be one of THOSE days, huh?” This usually puts me in a panic and a bad mood for the entire day, on-edge and easily agitated by the inevitable stress of work. I did a really good job of managing the stress. I took some deep breaths and reminded myself that, although this wasn’t great, it wasn’t the end of the world.

They say that you know it’s your ego talking when you use terms like “always” and “never”. I had one of those moments. I got triggered at work, and had a little back-and-forth with my friend and co-worker. It was something that “always” happens and it did affect me, because I was putting my name and reputation on it. But after just a few angry exchanges I was able to take a deep breath, remind myself it wasn’t the end of the world, let the anger pass through me, and even though I was still shaking, we managed to salvage the exchange and do a very nice job of collaborating and getting both of our points heard and addressed.

Again, not great that I got triggered and expressed it, but I was almost immediately able to wrangle it in. I really think that next time I get triggered, I will be able to let it pass through me without NEEDING to express it externally (at work, at least). That’s the difference – you can’t suppress it if you NEED to express it outwardly. But my NEED for it is slowly disappearing. Slowly, but it is.

It really is ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE. I could continue to view all these annoying things as happening TO me, and fighting them, and allowing it to stress me out and challenge the direction I want the future to go in. Or, I could think of all of these as fun games for me to hone my skills in dealing with ridiculous and irritating situations. It’s an opportunity to experiment with different strategies and communication techniques. Neither of them is “right” or “wrong”. Either way, crap is going to happen. But I can choose how I view it and how I handle it. And chances are, things will go much better if I stay calm. When I get upset and angry, it triggers those around me, and then everyone is acting from that space. Sure, it isn’t fair that perhaps I’m the one who always has to cork my anger and change to a loving perspective. But it helps, it works, and who knows, maybe it will help others learn from my example. Not to mention, I’m sure that will help my reputation in the long run.

In the past, this day would have gone so much differently. But I chose to surrender. When I saw that I was getting worked up, I chose to just surrender my soul and not let my anger take over. Falling behind the wave instead of surfing the wave of anger. I just let it crash down on the shore and dissipate without throwing me along with it. And the day actually turned out fairly pleasant, given all the circumstances. Not a bad day.

Give it a try!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Next Resistance Level

I guess life has decided that it is time for me to take this spiritual journey to the next level. I’ve been dealing with some major triggers and emotional walls lately. I’ve been hitting my max and crumbling apart, and I’m forced to call upon that new inner-strength to handle it the way I need to and to pull myself through it. For now, that means allowing myself to completely fall apart. That means giving myself permission to FEEL my FEELINGS without any shame. That means surrounding myself with nurturing, loving thoughts as I unleash my inner pain. Then, when the tears have washed away the reaction, I can get to work. Then I am ready to conquer whatever situation is before me.

They say the resistance is strongest right before you make a breakthrough. In that case, I guess I’m really close to a breakthrough, because I’ve been falling apart something AWFUL lately. It does come to an end and I do handle everything well afterwards, though. But damn, it is painful allowing myself to feel everything out. But it is WAY better than bottling it all up and letting it erupt during other completely unrelated interactions.

It’s weird – I feel weak but strong at the same time. I feel pathetic curling into a ball and sobbing like a little girl, but I NEED that right now. That’s what generally gets stuffed down and makes me REALLY angry and moody. I’d much rather be pathetic for a minute than angry for several days. While this is all happening, on its own timeline, I am still aware that as a whole this is a STRENGTH I am developing. I love analogies, so here is another one: Suppose there is a door you always go through that usually gets stuck. You learned that you have to push REALLY HARD to get it to open. Then one day, someone fixes the door. At first, you still push REALLY HARD expecting the same resistance, and you fly through the door and are a little disheveled and thrown off by the lack of effort that was necessary. That’s what is happening right now – my emotions are still pushing REALLY HARD because they are expecting me to bottle them up when they really want to get out. That’s why they feel so extreme right now. Eventually they will learn that they don’t have to push so hard, because I welcome them to the surface. That’s when I’ll stop curling into a ball and sobbing. Plus, I am so aware of how the reasons I’m getting upset are in my head and in my control. It triggers me nevertheless, but I can see it for what it is. So if I keep allowing my emotions to flow freely, they will be less extreme.

That’s why some people can’t understand being that “sensitive” – because they probably didn’t feel much shame about expressing their emotions, so they naturally got less and less, the way mine will now that I am not suppressing them anymore. But mine have built up pressure, so the pressure has to lessen. That’s just one generic possible reason, of course. Maybe some people channel their emotions, or they simply don’t care. Tons of explanations, but that one is a possibility to add into the mix that helps me when people attack me for being sensitive.

It’s upsetting that I still need at least one day by myself to blow off steam and shake off all the stress and obligations, but again, that isn’t going to be forever. I’m on the right path here. One thing at a time.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Strategy for Double Trigger

When you identify one of your triggers, I think the hardest thing to do is to acknowledge that you’re going to have to change something in yourself instead of something external. I have two triggers that have been hit simultaneously several times lately, and my first strategy is always to explain it to people so they’ll stop doing it. It took nearly two days for me to accept that this might be something I have to deal with instead of blaming others and trying to control their behavior.

Specifically, these triggers are:

1)      I lose my focus when someone comes and stands behind me staring over my shoulder at my computer when I’m working. I completely lose the bubble, and then I’m just contemplating what they are looking at and thinking, and what unwanted comments or advice they are going to provide. Completely distracting.
2)      I hate it when people start making assumptions about what I’m doing and volunteer advice that I didn’t ask for when I have everything under control. Or, when I get satisfactory advice, but then they throw in some random statement at the end that I should ignore but instead I try to process it in case it applies to what I am doing. Then I realize it has nothing to do with anything, and I decide to summarize that for them, which actually gets them involved again because instead of acknowledging that it doesn’t affect what I’M doing they decide to explain in inordinate detail everything THEY are doing and suddenly they want ME to DO it as well, right then and there. And they try to push me to do it and I just want to get back to what I was doing, and I try to be like okay I got it, sure, yeah, and then when they won’t stop I get frustrated and I’m like OKAY, I’ve GOT it, don’t WORRY about it. And then they don’t “appreciate” my attitude when they are just “trying to help”. Um, no. You are wasting my time and yours.

So put the two together and you have a perfect storm.

After wallowing in my anger for a while, I finally came to a place where I could see it more clearly. Everything happens FOR you, not TO you, as Mastin Kipp says. If I am going to succeed, I’m going to need to learn how to work under pressure and with people staring over my shoulder. These are merely opportunities for me to practice that skill. These are moments where I can see it as a fun test for how well I can keep my focus. Maybe I’ll even giggle next time it happens, because I will have been waiting for it, instead of taking a frustrated sigh and waiting for the inevitable interruption that follows.

As for the second one, this one will be trickier. There is usually a lot of interaction that progresses into that state. Looking back, all I really have to do is ask that they excuse me to finish what I’m doing before I embark on the task they want me to perform, assuming it is in fact somewhat helpful to what I am doing. I just need to not take it as… what do I take it as? I take it as them derailing me, making me lose my concentration and making me doubt myself, only to realize moments later that I was in fact on the right track. So I just need to remind myself that I do have enough time to hear them out to a certain extent, I can gain knowledge on what they are doing instead of rejecting the knowledge because it does not pertain to the task at hand, and if they try to pressure me then I will ask that they let me finish what I’m doing and I’ll grab them when I have time for it, if they think it is that important.

OKAY. So I have a strategy for next time.

This happens often, so I’m sure I’ll be able to utilize this soon. I will TRY to not let the triggers unleash all of my emotions. I will try to not judge and feel attacked. I will try.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Your Own Fun is a Priority

I am so proud of myself for this weekend. Not only did I conquer my burn out and perceptions as I expressed in the last post, but I took it a step further. It was a fairly easy motivator before, because it was for someone else. But I had yet another event in my schedule that I was considering not doing, and that one was just for me. I was seriously considering not doing something I loved due to the same exact perceptions I conquered before.

I was willing to do it for someone else, but not for me.

Luckily, I saw that. I heard that loud and clear. I then made it my mission to go out dancing with the girls, because I couldn’t let myself down in the same way I knew I couldn’t let my friend down the day before. Most people have to be told the Golden Rule, but I have to learn the inverse – treat YOURSELF as you would treat others.

Not only did I decide to go out dancing, but I decided to break through a few other issues that I have. Normally I care too much about how I look. I hate how my arms look, so I usually cover them up. But I get really sweaty when I go dancing, so that’s always a nightmare – it would be better to go sleeveless, but I cringe at that idea. I also try to wear something flattering on my figure, but then I’m usually pulling and tugging to keep things in place while I dance. But I just decided to wear something sleeveless that drapes down my stomach, and does not necessarily flatter my figure, but it looks nice, it’s comfortable and it will reduce the pulling and tugging. I also usually do my hair down, because I look horrible with my hair up. But again, the sweat makes that nasty. So I did a little side pony tail, Katniss style, with my bangs on the opposite side. If I stop caring about looking sexy, it looked cool. I just had to make sure to not think about it the rest of the night.

I also consciously tried to work on… I guess you could call it a confidence issue? Going out dancing like that, I don’t have any “moves”, I just sway along to the music, basically. We get in a circle, and people jump in the center to do some moves. I can’t improvise like that – my entire life I’ve prepared and practiced every single thing I do, and dancing is no exception. I can’t create moves on the fly. But now I know that is not a solid fact forever. I tried to be a little more daring. I did moves that I thought were kinda dumb and may have drawn too much dorky attention to me, just to allow myself to TRY. In the circle I jumped in a few times and was just silly, but I decided I didn’t care that I didn’t have cool moves like some of the other girls. One day I will.

So I was wearing unflattering clothes (exposed face and arms) and was doing potentially dorky moves, and yet that was possibly the most fun I’ve had and I got a lot of attention. Go figure! When you stop caring and just find your confidence, you get everything you wanted.

Now let me explain “attention”, though. Not the male attention you probably thought I meant. Just - acknowledgement that I’m there. Usually I start to feel like an outsider and suddenly I get blocked off from the group. But this time, I was definitely part of the group, and I took it upon myself to establish my position instead of letting people block me out (no more manifesting my own invisibleness). Also, a few guys even tried to dance with me, but only one in a sketchy way, and I used that opportunity to try a trick I learned about turning it into a more innocent form of dancing. I turned around to face him and started doing silly dance battle-type moves, so I wasn’t rejecting him, I was still dancing with him, but it wasn’t uncomfortable, either. That way it was still fun. And I twirled in a couple guys hands, too. All in all, so much fun!

I’m so glad I decided to go out. This one was for me, and I definitely deserved it.

I rocked this weekend. And hopefully this victory will help me remember this upcoming week that I can control my perception and create my own happiness despite the circumstances. We shall see!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Mastering Your Emotions

When I get upset, I tend to let it snowball. The one thing triggers something bigger and gets my emotions flowing. Then everything else that I’ve been managing suddenly isn’t manageable anymore, and I start grasping at everything and it all becomes more and more problems. Suddenly the fact that I haven’t had time to myself in weeks, which I kept trying to affirm to myself was okay, is suddenly absolutely not okay. Suddenly my schedule which was just a little tight is now a complete panic. And suddenly everything around me has the veil removed, and I can no longer lie to myself that I’m okay with it all. Everything is crap. Everything. And I’m completely broken and angry inside.

Now I see what’s really happening, and I can work with myself to manage it.

In the past, I would get so frustrated with people when they asked me what was wrong. “Everything! It isn’t one thing, it is everything!” It ticked me off even more that people expected one single situation would get me that upset. Those thoughts easily merge into “No one understands me.”

As burned out as I am, and as bad as it got a couple days ago, I must admit I made some ground-breaking progress. I’d been working 10+ hour workdays, hardly getting any sleep, and I hadn’t had time to myself in weeks. In addition, I wanted to be there for my friend for his birthday adventures. I was working on not stressing about the timing and preparation involved for anything, and I did a decent job. But being on edge made it easier for me to crack at work, and I had a little situation where I took something really personally because it was one of my triggers. I knew it was happening and I knew it was in my head, but it triggered me nevertheless. In the moment, I was battling my ego. I was trying to stay calm because I knew it was a trigger, but my frustration came out a little. Not a lot. I took some deep breaths and expressed it was okay, and when I got a chance I went outside to get some air and calm down.

It was so frustrating, because I KNEW what was happening! Sure, maybe the situation was exactly as I was perceiving, but that’s not the point – the point is that, so what?? I knew it was just my perception, and by perceiving it that way and letting it get to me, it just makes matters worse. I KNOW this. But I’m human, and as much as I know better, my emotions are still going to creep up on me. The best I can do is exactly what I did, and with enough time I know they will lessen.

What had happened was a few of us were discussing something at work, and I guess people misunderstand my facial expressions and comments, because they start re-explaining things to me over and over that I already understood, so I look at them funny because I’m thinking “Why the hell are you explaining this to me again” but they take it as “She doesn’t understand what I’m saying – I should try again”. And it’s really insulting, because a trigger for me is people treating me like I’m an idiot and don’t understand something. And I know if I can just calmly express that we can move on, but I was on edge that day and I don’t quite have the wording down for that situation.

When I was outside, my co-worker found me and was sweet enough to try to apologize, but he was apologizing for the content of the discussion, which didn’t bother me at all, which is what he thought bothered me, and THAT was exactly what was annoying me. I had to explain it was the communication that was frustrating me, not the content of the discussion. But he said something really awesome. He said something like, “We’re not trying to make you understand, we’re just looking for your approval.” And I smiled SO big. What a different perspective! Unfortunately later the same kind of situation happened and he literally said he wants to make sure I understand, haha, BUT that isn’t always the case and now I have another perspective in my toolkit to help me get through those situations.

Again, I KNOW it is all in my head, and I know I have no reason to be upset. It just triggers me and I’m human so I can’t do much about that except to pamper myself and love myself through it until it bothers me less.

But wait – there’s more! So remember that my schedule was going to be tight after a 10 hour workday. In-between activities, I had a panic attack, made worse by people somewhat unexpectedly showing up when I was already late and stressing out, and in my mind the entire world came tumbling down around me and I literally just couldn’t handle it. I’m not proud of this, but my parents were stopping by to leave me more leftovers from Thanksgiving and do a couple things, but I had no idea when they are showing up and I’d told them I wouldn’t be there. I had wanted to take a nap before packing and gathering a bunch of stuff together in order to go out for my friend’s birthday, which part of me was dreading because I was so tired and mentally drained. So I can’t sleep because I’m stressing about being late and about my parents showing up while I’m napping, so I give up and drink a Red Bull. I try deep breathing while I’m getting ready but my heart is racing from the anxiety. I try to put on some music to take that high energy and channel it into something more pleasant. It doesn’t work too well, but maybe a little. Then my parents arrive and I couldn’t hear them so they let themselves in, which ticked me off. They come around looking for me and I say I don’t have time for them so they should do what they need to do and then leave. When I say I’m busy, they tend to want to ask me a bunch of questions about what I’m doing, which under the correct perspective is sweet, but when you are stressed out and busy, it is annoying as hell, because if I’m busy it means I don’t have time to chat with you. So they start asking why and what’s wrong, and I just scream I DON’T HAVE TIME. So they left and I just sat on my bed, shaking, and bawled. I just completely broke down. Complete anxiety attack.

All the emotions I was trying to manage and keep at bay just came flooding in. I was thinking that I really didn’t want to go anywhere, I just wanted to curl up in a ball, cry and go to bed. I kept telling myself not to do this – not to put my own agenda ahead of my friend who has been there for me so much. I can’t let him down. And none of this misery was real. I have the power to change it. It is just perception. I reminded myself to put all my priorities in order. It was his BIRTHDAY, for God’s sake. Put him first today. He deserves it. And I told myself do NOT, under any circumstance, complain about the crappy day you had. He does not deserve to have that weighing on him. It is not his fault, and it is only your own fault for letting these things get to you. I just kept reminding myself that absolutely nothing was actually wrong, and that I would enjoy going out and meeting some of his other friends. So I took the time to just sit and cry it out and then gather my strength again. And I did. I calmed down and the Red Bull kicked in, so I was good to go. And it was an AWESOME night. I also sent a text to my parents apologizing for yelling at them and explained I was frustrated and late and having an anxiety attack. So it all turned out okay! A happy ending!

The reason I want to share things like this is because I want to show how perception is everything, and how far I’ve come from defending my ego to acknowledging that these are just emotions and I know better than to identify with them and let them take over completely. Even though I’m disappointed that I still have these moments, that’s okay – I am human. We all are human. It is going to happen. It is how you handle it that counts, and it takes time to master your emotions. So while I had a human moment, I am still proud of myself for my determination to get through it and my humbleness to put others before myself, be it my friend or my parents, at least after the fact. Anyone can do this. YOU can do this. I probably sound completely crazy for how I was breaking down, but whatever, that’s the truth, and that’s why I needed this spiritual journey so badly. I was miserable. I’m so happy and lucky that life cracked me open enough to see that there was another way. It really is salvation. It really feels like the pathway to Heaven.

You have control over how things affect you. Don’t interpret that as an obligation, but as a freedom. It is completely natural to have emotional moments, but underneath that, build the foundation to know that you will get through it, and have the strength to shoulder your emotions while you find your balance again. You can do it!