Skip to main content

Don't Get in the Wheelbarrow!!

I used to dread going to see my therapist sometimes because I knew I could brew up a whirlwind rant about my workplace, culminating in a giant single sentence tornado that would destroy everything in the room--me included. 

First of all they promoted this incompetent woman over me. Then they dumped more on me to do including helping HER staff. Then we had retirements that were not replaced..and big capital projects...and operational adjustments while being the only department to implement cost saving operational improvements. Then I get promised a title change but it never happens and then...

(Even now I feel the urge to type out every minute detail just to know I am not crazy and these things are really horrible and evil and awful and they should all just----)
 
DEEEP BREATH!
 
At Inner Mean Girl Reform School our first lesson was to identify the inner mean girls who  tell you BIG FAT LIES about yourself and set you off on an inner dialogue that fuels the tornado.

Turns out I have four IMGs. My Comparison Queen--leads the pack. She continually compares me to others (with me either coming up short, or very superior to others) which whips my Doing Addict, my Achievement Junkie and my Superwoman into a fury of activity trying to measure up for where I am lacking or making up for where others fall short. 

They are very loud and say things like:
 
You are not good enough!
If you don't prove your worth everyone will leave you!
You are a failure!
You are weak!
How can you stand working with those people who are so incompetent.  What a waste of your time!
 
I picture them having this huge wheelbarrow.  They all grab the handles and dash over to me, scooping me up, hollering their messages as we plunge headlong down a steep bumpy hill.  They argue over which way to go and in the meantime, I am bounced and bruised as the wheel hits every hole and bump.  The hill, sometimes, is endless.  We just keep going and going until maybe we crash.  Then there are usually tears.  Or sleep.  Or television to numb the pain of the fall.  There is often no time to question what they are yelling at me.  All I can do is hold on and ride it out hoping they will get tired. Or join the ranting and end up in a full blown panic attack. (those are always fun!)
 
The next day, the come for me again.
 
It is exhausting.  My body tingles; my bones hollow and cold as the fight or flight response is stimulated.  You can't fight when you are holding on for dear life.  You can't get away because you are not in control of the wheelbarrow.  So you spin and spin in your head; hyper vigilant, breathing fast, unable to make a simple decision for fear of getting it "wrong" and having to hear them laugh at you. 
 
So here I am with all this going on in my head and I can't just turn it off.  I can't avoid the people pushing the wheelbarrow.  But maybe I can find a way not to get scooped up into the wheelbarrow?
 
Imagine this:
 
You overhear several people at work discussing how much fun they had at an  event they all attended on the weekend. You had no knowledge of the event.
 
You are a loser!
Nobody likes you!
You are better than they are so don't sweat it. Sounds like it would have been a waste of your time!
What if you have a panic attack! You can't DO social events!
 
Shouting, they all grab the handles of the wheelbarrow and come barreling toward you...each one jostling the other for the best spot. 
 
As they approach.  You take a step back.  And another. 

You watch as they brush past you and you see each one up close.  You acknowledge that there are a lot of feelings swirling around in your mind and you think:

Wow my feelings are all over the place and my skin feels uncomfortable.  I feel angry and hurt and I worry about why they didn't include me.  I can stew on this all day or I can just go for a walk for a few minutes to get a tea or coffee or a breath of fresh air and acknowledge these feelings as they pass through me and don't consume me.  I see them.  Here they come.  And there they go. I am not my feelings. 
 
My feelings are real but, I am not my feelings.  I feel tension in my muscles and my chest is a bit tight.  These are real things.  But they will go away if I don't feed them any more emotion. 
 
Watch your feelings pass.  Don't deny them.  Don't try to steer them in another direction by distracting yourself.  Acknowledge they real in this moment....but they are not who you are.
 
You can be someone --who at this moment is angry.  You are NOT an angry person.
 
Unless you allow yourself to get swept up by the wheelbarrow.
 
The choice is yours, and it takes practice.  It took me a year to be able to start to apply this and there are certainly times when I jump headfirst into the wheelbarrow and enjoy every bump and bruise because I feel like I deserve the ride.
 
But more and more, I can stand back and watch the show. 

They come. 
They yell.
They go.
They fade.

I am not my feelings. 
 
I am, as always, a Work in Progress.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Shame is A Full-Contact Emotion (Brené Brown)

It is a cool outside this morning and I have on my fluffy red robe as I sit outside and watch the birds flit back and forth from the fence to the feeder----arrogantly tossing aside imperfect sunflower seeds to get to the good ones.

The discarded seeds, some empty, some full, punctuate my deck, waiting for the squirrels, who will later claim this easy buffet.
I am still reading Brené and The Gifts of Imperfection.

Feels a bit like learning a new language ---I see the words---I hear the words---but the meaning is so diffuse...I need to read and reread and sometimes, even read out loud to make the words stick

It is hard work.

And while the smooth cover of her book lies balanced on my palm, seemingly weightless, many of the concepts have a density that knocks me flat on my ass ---like a large medicine ball.
CATCH THIS ONE!Oooooooof!I am down.

Eyes wide, trying to catch my breath, wrestling with the weight of hefty concepts like shame, authenticity, wholeheartedness, courage, compassion, connect…

Getting to Know My Neighbor in Type B

As a self identified "Type A" behavior "enthusiast", getting to know my neighbor in "Type B" might help me get a handle on why I too often feel like I am banging my head against a wall at work.   
But before I get too far, after all, there are a bazillion "self assessment" tests out there from, "What potato chip flavor are you?" to "Which Prince outfit are you?"
In the 1950's, two cardiologists, Friedman and Rosenman used Type A and Type B as a way to describe behavioral responses associated with how male patients with heard conditions responded to stress in their waiting room.   
They observed that some of the men actually wore down the edges of the seats from sitting poised on the edges of the seat and jumping up frequently, (labelled Type A) while others were able to relax in their seats and the wear on the chairs was focused more evenly (labelled Type B).  
They went on to investigate further, testing and proving at that …

Taking a Lesson from Work

Maybe it's because I am on this spiritual journey, or maybe it is because I have time to read blogs and cruise the web, but 2014 seems a bit obnoxious so far.  
Really IN YOUR FACE. Ok so it is not quite like this, but...... ....picture in your mind a saloon type town in the old west. 

Got it? 

Ok so now add a slick looking guy standing up on a wooden crate, surrounded by a crowd of people.  Beside the crate is a table, and on it are dozens bottles.
He clears his throat, throws out his arms, and announces:

It's a new year folks! New year.....new YOU! How would you like to tackle your SPENDING/DRINKING/SELFSABOTAGING/PROCRASTINATING/UNDEREDUCATED/OVERACHIEVING/UNORGANIZED/OVERWEIGHT/GREYINGHAIR/DULL SMILE/SMOKING/BOUNDRYSETTING/DEPRESSED/ANXIOUS/EATINGDISORDER/OBSESSING/INTERNET-DEVICE ADDICTION problems....
RIGHT NOW!!!
AND IF NOT, WHY NOT? OMG you think!!! (well OMG probably wasn't around then but...)  

OMG I think I heard a few things in there that I need to fix!!!!  Actually, I KNO…