When it all goes sideways

Posted February 14, 2019 by Amanda Shofner in So this is my life. / 0 Comments

This isn’t the post I intended to write this week. It is the post I need to write, though.

You see, when they talk about a “week from hell” that’s exactly what this week has felt like. Messy and slow commutes due to weather nearly every single day. My smartphone permanently dying. Feeling like the dumping ground for problems at work. Spreading my negativity to everyone around me. Having no patience that I literally want to throw things.

And the week’s not even over.

But sometimes life goes sideways. It happens. And today, four days into the week, I actually feel okay saying that.

It’s okay to acknowledge your anger. In fact, I challenge you to read this article about naming anger to tame it. While the article mentions anger specifically, the same idea applies to any emotion. The more we name it, the more we get intimate with what we’re feeling (and why!), the easier it is to manage our emotions.

By taking a step back and saying, “Wow. I’m really angry right now. It’s like a heavy ball inside my gut that gives me the urge to kick something,” you find yourself separating from the emotion. You become a witness to it, rather than it consuming you. Call it mindfulness or self-awareness or emotional intelligence or any of the other names that are used. It’s a valuable skill to cultivate.

Like I said, it’s taken me four days to reach a point that I feel calm and able to handle whatever the universe wants to throw at me. It helps that I spent a half hour shoveling snow. It helps that my drive home wasn’t overly long and I didn’t get stuck. Not even the alley! It helps that I spent time outside with Scarlet and laughing at her antics in the snow.

The trouble with self-care is that sometimes it’s billed as a cure all. If you just practice self-care every day, you’ll be happy all the time! Take a bath, you’ll feel better. Write about your day in your journal, you’ll feel better. Honestly, there are times when no amount of bathing or writing that will fix the emotions that are writhing within you.

And that’s okay.

No, seriously. It’s okay to not feel okay. Because while you don’t feel okay right now, you will feel okay eventually.

I’m starting to believe that to be positive, you first need to be realistic. That facing reality and accepting it for what it is and then—and only then—figuring out how to move forward is what being positive is all about.

There’s something about fighting against reality, like how I’ve been feeling this week, for example, that ends up being futile. That the very act of denying what’s happening makes it even worse. I suspect this is why naming your emotions is so powerful. When you name it, it loses its power.

When an emotion loosens its grip on you and you can breathe again, that’s the time to help yourself hit the reset button. How you do that is unique to you. For me, it’s bringing myself back to reality.

I shoveled snow for 30 minutes, and it reminded me that a) exercise is vital for my mental health, but b) I haven’t gotten out due to bad weather conditions. That means I need to take a good hard look at the weekend and find a way to get exercise in.

Being left without a phone for 48-odd hours is, frankly, a much needed reminder that yes, I am way too addicted to picking it up and checking things. The weather. The latest Instagram posts. The most current headlines. Which emails have landed in my inbox. I can live without those. I forget how much calmer and focused I am without it.

I remember, too, the shock of stumbling over my name in the acknowledgments section of a book. And it’s another one of those reminders that even when I’m bogged down and frustrated, I am making a difference.

It’s taking the time to write this post, because at its core, the words I’m writing are helping me process my emotional journey this week. I can’t guarantee that tomorrow will be any better. For this moment, when my body is relaxed and my mind is at ease, I’ll take it. The moments are what count.

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