There are days …

Mine look like extreme frustration. I’m hiding in my office from the world. My brain is busy finding all sorts of evidence why I’m not good at anything. I’m trying to figure out how to make myself feel better in a hurry. Find someone to vent to? Work until I feel satisfied? Play Two Dots or Wordscapes or binge watch something?

I’ve learned that when I am notification hunting more than taking action on anything, something is bothering me and I need to investigate it. Hopefully I do that before I move into raging temper mode, even if I keep the rage inside. Because eventually that leads to snapping at people I work with and withdrawing and avoid-family-and-friends-and-enter-burnout mode.

A while back, I came up with my emergency toolkit. (I may or may not have needed to pull that out today.) Here’s what it looks like:

  1. Allow the feeling. Whatever feeling it is – shame, hurt, embarrassment, worry, fear – it’s just a feeling, and I’ve had those feelings before and gotten through them. Be present with it – what does it feel like? Focus on the physical, not the mental. Say to myself “this is what shame feels like right now” and don’t move to processing the thoughts yet. Sometimes I need a moment to get started, but I don’t need to be alone or quiet to process the emotion, I can do that anywhere. Doing this helps me avoid resisting it or reacting to it or avoiding it – all things guaranteed to keep that feeling around for longer or make it come back with a vengeance later. I want real and lasting change, so I want to get good at this. Negative emotions are ok, and necessary for my growth even. I can observe the feeling with compassion for myself. I can do this feeling. Doing this as often as it takes will help me have a better relationship with myself. When the worst of the feeling passes, I will be better able to move on.
  2. When I’m ready to, download the thoughts. Writing is so cathartic for me. It allows me to stop ruminating on something–it’s like I’m worried I’ll forget what my problem is so I spin on it until it’s written somewhere! This helps me tease apart what is real from what my beautiful brain offers me as interpretations of said reality. It helps me when I want to explore different perspectives. It helps me when I want to double down on my interpretations. It helps me understand where I’m at, and where I want to go. I can identify patterns in my thinking then, too. I can see if those patterns work for me, or if I want to change them up. This leans in on that awareness I wrote about previously.
  3. So then what? It depends on the situation. Sometimes, that’s it, except that I’ll often have to rinse and repeat the above–it’s not like us humans are supposed to figure something out once and be experts at it. Other times, I’m ready to do something, because I want something different. I don’t want to hold myself back, I want to put more of myself out there and grow, and make it ok for others to do that around me. Now that I’m past the processing of the emotion, my brain is more available to me to come up with options. So I focus on figuring out the next thing, and get to it. And I try to remember when figuring out the next thing to move on… what’s the worst that can happen anyway? Another emotion? I can deal with that, and I can figure out the rest.