Regressing? Me? No WAY!
This week I had a setback. There I was, living my best life at work when someone did something that really aggravated me, like REALLY aggravated me. You know the kind of aggravation that stops you in your tracks, makes your face get hot and compels you to take immediate (and maybe snippy) action? The kind of aggravation that obliterates any concept of zen?
That was me.
I don’t know if it was the incident itself, or just the last straw but I was really annoyed.
And I showed it.
Then, to make matters even worse, I ruminated over it for the rest of the day, defending my aggravation to myself, telling myself how justified I was.
Pro tip: defending aggravation (and your reaction to it) doesn’t make you feel one smidge better.
Eventually, I got over it. Honestly, it wasn’t that big a deal.
But then I brought a second wave of misery on myself. The “I shouldn’t have let it bother me” wave of misery.
I mean, after all, I teach people how to feel better at work, how to manage their own experience DESPITE the irritation of the circumstances. And in one moment, I slipped right back into old patterns and emotions. As I saw it, there were 3 main problems.
Problem #1: I let someone aggravate me.
Problem #2: I reacted reflexively, and not in a super kind fashion.
Problem #3: I initiated the inner battle of shame vs. defensiveness and validation.
And it was only Tuesday.
I hope you can relate. It feels awful to work so hard for something and slide backwards. Maybe you have done this at work or maybe in other areas of your life. You eat healthy for weeks and then go on a day long bender of ice cream and doritos. You say you are going to walk every day after work and then on day 5 you run errands instead. You start a new habit and get good at it only to find you mess it up.
So, as I dealt with the “I shouldn’t be dealing with this” song running through my head, (the one where verse 2 is “I thought I was over this already”), I realized that this is just the human condition. There will always be competing priorities, reactions, emotions.
Self-growth is like being a slinky (yes, the spiral toy that can walk down the stairs). Growth is not a straight upward line, it’s more of a coil. We go upwards slowly, moving away from the issues only to find ourselves circling back to the same issue again… but one level up. This continues and continues because the issues never fully go away, they are part of our lives. Even if we have days that we slide backwards a little bit, we can’t slide all the way back to the bottom because we can’t unlearn all the experiences that got us to where we are.
We don’t need to get into a big, tangled mess about it (because tangled slinkys are next to impossible to untangle.)
When I finally spent some time thinking about it, I realized that it isn’t a problem that I’m not a superhuman who doesn’t react to things. I am never going to be immune to aggravation or setbacks. Just accepting that this happens (and should be expected) can decrease the drama that comes with it.
Nothing has gone wrong here; it is all going exactly how it is supposed to. Really, this is exactly what I have been training for :)
The key is remembering that I am never back to square one. I have learned things along this road, and I can keep moving upward. I can cut myself some slack and take responsibility for managing my emotions, even when they aren’t the emotions I want.
Can you do the same for yourself?
P.S. Do you feel like you are sliding backwards and need some help shifting back to the right direction? As an end of the summer funfest, I am offering a free, hour-long coaching session for 10 people, a "vacation" from your stress. No strings attached. Just you and me and solutions. Do you want to be one of the ten? DM me and let's do it!
image credit: Creative Commons: Danbo plays with the Slinky! by Chris J Bowley