Dear Everyone, Being a therapist does not mean I don't have icky emotions or bad days. It doesn't mean I'm perfect...in the perma-grin, stepford wife, all-is-well all-the-time, only good vibes and juju sense of the word.
Ew. I am not that.
I LOVE feelings of rage, anger, frustration, irritation, anxiety, sadness, hurt, and even guilt. I have learned to have a kind, loving, and even friendly relationship with these feelings...and it's ALWAYS easier to be friendly with these feelings when they live in others than when they set up shop within myself.
I am certain these feelings are an important part of our emotional guidance system. They let us know when things need to change, when a boundary needs to be made, when a coming to Jesus meeting needs to happen, when a perspective needs to shift, when a belief needs to be examined, when we need to be easier on ourselves, when we need more support, and when we just need a damn break.
What I think my work, and training, and scouring, and researching, and practicing has taught me is that my emotional guidance system isn't broken...and neither is most people's.
When I listen to mine I do things that are considered strange... like hiring an aupair from Spain when we had our 3rd child, downsizing and buying a stinky, dirty, old fixer-upper house to live in a community that has more...well, community, taking a 2-week trip to Spain with a few thousand dollar inheritance from my Grandmother, and the most recent is I hired a wife (more explanation on that one later)...the list goes on. Weird things.
And on each one of the weird things listed I want you to know my husband WAS NOT on board: "We don't need THAT" & "We can't do THAT!" And regarding each one of the things listed my husband has later exclaimed some form of, "Ugh, I'm so glad we did THAT."
There was a time when I listened to myself less. I needed a 12-person committee to make any decision bigger than which grade of gas to pump into my car. I used to ask for permission when it came to MY LIFE...a lot, "Do you think it'd be ok if....?" and "What do YOU think about .....?" Just a shifty glance from my husband about an idea I had would shut it all down.
Because growing up the way I did, with divorced parents and a dysfunctional family, it must mean my emotional guidance system is broken....and everyone else probably has this all figured out more than I do.
Last week I realized I had gained 17 pounds. Whoops. I blame all the elastic in the jeans these days. This realization sent me into a funk. I was bummed, I was pissed at myself, I was sad, I was worried, I was trying to figure it out...I knew I needed some clarity to take my next best steps. Was my eating off? Was I not working out enough? I've spent nearly 6 years of the last 9 pregnant or nursing...was I just used to consuming extra calories? Or was it too many carbs? Maybe I should carb-cycle?
Whoa, Nelly. I know. I'm not obese, this is not the end of the world, and no one died. But for me, 17 extra pounds is uncomfortable and I hate shopping so any chance NOT to buy new clothes will be taken.
I was pretty shocked by this number on the scale...and I'm not gonna lie, I was beating myself up a good bit and snarling at loved ones. I'm allowed to have a bad day. You are, too.
So much momentum came out of all those not-cheery feelings. I bought a SUPER COOL Blaze Fitbit Watch which has made me realize....I used to move A LOT more and was a lot more mindful about what I eat. The Fitbit even made me play soccer with my kids yesterday. I've also realized I do not deserve a treat for everyday I survive having 3 children ;-)
What I want you to know is....GROWTH AND CHANGE DO NOT COME WITHOUT DISCOMFORT. Period. Stop trying to shoo the discomfort away!
If we spend our energy avoiding the discomfort, "it's okay"ing our mediocre jobs, shoulding on ourselves to feel another way about a situation, and ignoring our crummy feelings in our relationships we miss all the opportunities for magic, better times, vulnerability, emotional intimacy, and fist-pumping victory laps.
Maybe perfection is something entirely different than what we've thought it was. Maybe perfection is all about getting off track and getting back on in a really transparent way so that everyone can stop feeling so ashamed and alone.