Oh. My. Gosh. I am so exhausted. Have you ever had one of those days where people keep coming at you with problems and it just never stops? That was my day today. I always try to get my work done for the day before I leave work. Not today. I left with over 30 emails in my inbox and I don’t know how many phone messages to return. I don’t know because I just ignored them all. On my computer at work, I can see when a new email comes in. All day long as I helped students face-to-face or as I was trying to answer student emails, I would see more coming in. It got to the point that I physically cringed and felt sick to my stomach every time I saw a new email. It was one of those days. You’ve had them.
So, you know me. When I noticed that I was cringing and I had that “I want my mommy” feeling, I stopped what I was doing. I took some deep breaths and I started doing my steps to contentment. Let me share that with you.
- I told myself (many times – I’m a slow learner) “I’m feeling anxious and overwhelmed and that’s ok, but I’m going to work to bring peace to my life”. A weight was lifted off of me, just with that first step. Of course I had to repeat it. A lot.
- I had to remind myself that I don’t know what the students are thinking. Maybe they’re upset with me for not responding right away or for not being able to do what they want me to do – and maybe they aren’t. I don’t know what they’re thinking. So, I can’t assume that they are all going to be upset with me.
- I told myself “I am so grateful that I get the chance to help so many people”. I said this a lot! Remember, slow learner here.
- I had trouble with the “Do Unto Others” step. Here’s what I came up with. I want people to do their best job when helping me. So that’s what I’m going to do for my students. And to do my best job, I had to slow down. I was racing through emails as fast as I could and I’m pretty sure I probably made some mistakes. So I stopped. And I slowed down. Because I wouldn’t want to think that someone was just racing through my questions so they could get to the next one. Of course this meant that I didn’t get everything done before I went home – and that’s ok. It will save me work down the road to not make mistakes.
- At work, I did my deep breathing and PMR to relax at my desk. Tonight when I go to bed, I’m going to visualize myself in my happy, safe place until I get really relaxed and then I’ll see myself buried under emails and staying calm. I’ll see myself taking my time and not worrying that people are getting mad at or me or that I’ll never get done. I seriously worried about that today. I actually thought “I will never get done” and I could feel my heart start to race. Seriously Molly? You will NEVER get done. That’s not even realistic. Of course I’ll get done. It will just take some time. I will get through them all.
So, I’ve been practicing these steps all day and I can tell you they worked for me. I’m sitting here on my sofa writing this blog instead of crying. I could have easily come home feeling upset and miserable after this day. I’ve done that many times in the past. But, I don’t want to be miserable. I don’t want to feel like crying. Instead I worked to bring peace and contentment to my life. I could have just sat and felt sorry for myself, getting more and more anxious. But I didn’t. It was a choice. It didn’t just happen. I worked at being happy and it paid off. I feel better than I would have and that’s a win for me.
Now, I want to go back to step 1. It’s easy to rush right through that step. But it deserves a closer look. Step 1 is all about acceptance. It’s about saying “I’m mad, or scared, or hurt, or confused, or whatever” and accepting it. It’s ok. It’s ok to be mad. It’s ok to be scared. It’s ok to be hurt. It’s ok to be confused. It’s ok to be whatever. If you fight those feelings – then you have a problem. When you don’t admit that you’re having those feelings and you squish them down – you have a problem. When you try to fight them and push back against them – then you have a problem. When you fight negative feelings, they increase. It’s like trying to fight a sneeze. It’s coming out and the more you fight it, the uglier it will be. So we have to accept how we’re feeling if we want to have some peace in our life.
I can almost hear you saying “So if I’m mad at my husband for missing my birthday, I’m just supposed to say that’s ok? I’m just supposed to let him off the hook and pretend like everything is ok?” Nope. I’m not saying that. Accepting your feelings is not saying it ok that people treat you badly. It’s not saying you don’t deserve to feel angry. What I’m saying is, you are having a negative feeling and it’s ok to have that. It’s ok. It doesn’t mean you accept or agree with bad things happening to you. It means you accept that bad things happen and you’re having a reaction to that. And then, you decide if you want to work to bring peace to your life. It doesn’t mean you just roll over and let bad things happen to you. It means that when bad things do happen, you accept that it happened and then you work to bring contentment back into your life.
So, now what? Now that you’ve accepted you’re feeling a bad feeling. You have to decide what you’re going to do with that. I was feeling anxious and overwhelmed. I accepted it. I know it’s ok to feel that. Now what? Now I have to decide what to do about it. The way I see it, I could keep pushing and rush through emails and leave work a little later than usual, but be done. I could slow down and take my time and go through all of the emails, leaving really, really late. I could slow down take my time and not get through all of the emails and leave a little late. Or I could just ignore them all and hope that they disappeared. I chose slowing down and not getting done. I left about half an hour late. I could live with that. It seemed like a happy medium to me. I can live with that. I’m not fighting my anxiety about not getting them all answered in one day. I’m not fighting my feelings of being overwhelmed. I’m accepting my feelings and working with them so I can find something that works for me and my life. I could say “This isn’t fair” or “I can’t handle this”. But that would not have brought me peace and contentment. And that’s what I’m always after.
Let me know what you think about this acceptance thing. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you have any questions? I would love to talk about this with you!
Wishing you all the peace in the world,