Sunday, September 6, 2015

An Example of Dealing with Frustration

Month two of Power 30 has begun! The first week of which was spent mostly just lying under the bus and waiting for the bus to move on, if you can picture me under the bus making plans on my smartphone. Which if you know me, you can't because you know that I'm still rockin' my Motorola RAZR—but soon! I join the world!

Anyway, I was fumbling for what my Power 30 tasks could be, and Schwartz had put Vent as one of hers on the spreadsheet, and that really seemed as good as any task, so I thought when this bus rolls off my kidney, I will vent, and then I was scrolling through my feedly on my imaginary smartphone and A Guide to Dealing with Frustration & Disappointment in Yourself popped up, because the universe provides like that.

So then the bus rolled off to wherever buses go to, I felt pretty beat up but reached for my water and launched 750 Words and about 150 words in, I remembered that I had this guide to disappointment and cut and pasted it right into my words:

Step 1: Noticing the Signals

The first step, as always, is awareness: pause right now and turn inward, to see if you are feeling frustrated or disappointed with yourself for anything.

Idk if I'm frustrated or disappointed. I am tired.

Are there any goals you haven’t accomplished? Habits you haven’t stuck to? Eating you haven’t done perfectly? Relationships you’re not being good at? Skills you’d like to learn that you haven’t devoted time to? Errands or tasks that aren’t getting done? Projects that you’ve procrastinated on?

Jesus, what a list. Well, now that you mention it! Of course my routine fell apart this week, I expected that. Words fell by the wayside now and again, eating went off-road for the first time in months... everything else—relationships, skills, geez I'm supposed to be learning skills? errands and tasks, projects—isn't even on the radar.

What kinds of feelings come up for you? These feelings are signals that you have expectations of yourself that you aren’t meeting. We all have them, all the time, and we can’t help but continually hope we’ll do better. These expectations aren’t realistic, but when we fail to meet them, we tend to think they’re realistic but it’s our actual selves that are the failure.

Feelings, idk. Just tired and ...maybe disenchanted, I guess. I woke up this morning, and also yesterday morning, and I sort of had to talk myself into waking up. Like I'm not going to bother waking up if I don't feel good about whatever I'm supposed to do today, so what am I supposed to do today? Yesterday I got out of bed because I felt good about doing yoga, but I'm still deciding if I feel good about doing yoga on Sunday too.

Step 2: Giving Yourself Space

Now that we see the signals, we want to give these feelings a little space. Allow them to be here in us, without trying to push them away, without wishing we didn’t have them.

Give the feelings a little breathing room.

How do these feelings feel in your body? Where are they? What kind of energy do they have?

How do these feelings feel in my body. What, my tired? It feels heavy, I guess. It's weighing me down. Where is it, I guess in my heart. What kind of energy does it have, uh, it doesn't. It's tired! It has a blackish color, melancholy, a little sick, like dark black green slow-moving swirls. Maybe I should start my feeeeelings notebook again, I used to draw my feelings every morning.

See that you’re feeling bad (“suffering,” the Buddhists would say) and know that this is normal, and perfectly OK.

I am feeling bad, this is normal, this is perfectly OK.

Step 3: Giving Yourself Compassion

If your friend were hurting like this, how would you comfort this friend? Could you give her a hug, some words of compassion, some love?

I would sit there and listen to her. I probably would not hug her, I do (((hugs))) but actual hugs not so much. I might think of something wise to say to her. I guess I'm more the words of compassion type.

Take a moment and do the same for yourself. You are no less worthy of a hug, some love, some kind words. As silly as it might seem, tell yourself you deserve this compassion.

Okay so, words of compassion for myself: welp, you had a stroke! You retired from derby! Who knows what's going on there, maybe how you're feeling is the physical aftermath from the stroke or the psychological aftermath. You saw that thing that Ska posted about people leaving the Army, I'm sure you --especially you, Miss Structure 1967-- feel that a lot.

This is sort of sucky compassion, isn't it.

WWBBD (What would Brene Brown do?)

I don't even know what to say right now, I'm just so glad you told me.
Okay truthfully, that made me cry a little bit. Lately btw, I don't cry when I feel bad. I do nothing when I feel bad. I cry when I feel good.

(LOL, words of Brene Brown appear in bold.)

Step 4: See the Greatness of the Present

Now that we’ve comforted ourselves a bit, let’s change the story we’re telling ourselves.

The story so far has been: you aren’t good at X. (Whatever X is.) And so we feel bad about not being good at X.

The story so far has been: I am not good at life. And so I feel bad about not being good at life. Idk, idk if I feel bad about myself for not being good at life. I think if you're not good at life, life doesn't feel good. I feel bad about life.

Let’s turn from the self we haven’t been, to the self we have been. This self might have “failed” at X, but it has also succeeded in lots of other ways. This self has tried. It has gotten a lot done. It’s not perfect, but it has good intentions. This self has been the best it can be, even if that means imperfection. This self has cared, has loved, has strived for better, has made an effort, has wanted the best for others. Not always, but it has. This self deserves that kind of recognition, and love for being the best self it can be.

I might have "failed" at life, but I have also succeeded in lots of other ways. I have tried. Lord, I have tried. I have made myself sick with trying. Oh and, I have gotten a shit ton done. I think I think about that the least because that's not what I care about. I care about how I feeeel. I'm not perfect, but I have good intentions. Can I just say, I really don't give a shit about being perfect. I'm really anti-perfect. Perfectionists make me roll my eyes, and if you are actually trying to be perfect in the real sense of the word perfect, I reserve my right to roll my eyes at you. Really, give me a break. Give yourself a break. But, maybe I could have more compassion for perfectionists if I could hoist myself with my own petard and understand that perfect doesn't mean perfect here. Here perfect means enough. And if you are trying to be perfect in the sense of the word enough, I get that. I'm so far from perfect... I'm not even enough. That is much, much more honest and poignant to me. That I can work with. If I have a life philosophy, it's that nobody is perfect and everybody is enough. I am enough. Maybe self-help is written against perfectionism because it's easy to talk people into not being perfect, and hard to talk them into being enough. Perfectionism is low-hanging fruit, it's the straw man of self-help. It's perfectly polite to ask people if they don't feel perfect, because it's dumb to feel perfect. It's not polite to ask people if they don't feel enough, because it's not okay to not be enough. Even if what you're getting at is, you are enough. I suppose for some people, enough is not enough. I suspect most people want to be more than enough. Anyway if you ask me, enough is the real problem and perfect is the fake problem.

Anyway. No, I don't feel like I'm enough, but this is enough: I have good intentions. I'm being the best I can be, even if that feels like not enough. I have cared, I have loved, I have strived for better, I have made an effort, I have wanted the best for others. Not enough? Enough instead of perfect makes this more meaningful, because it gives even me pause. If I say to myself, you haven't always strived for better, I snap back, pssh, nobody does always! But if I say to myself, you haven't strived for better enough, first I say Oh god and then I stop and think, how much is enough? I have done as much as I could under the circumstances. I have done more, I have broken myself now and again doing more than I could. I deserve recognition and love for being the best I could.

Now turn to the present moment: in this moment, what are you like? What about yourself, and the moment that you’re in, can you be grateful for? What is great about yourself, and the present moment, right now?

In this moment, I actually feel pretty good. I'm grateful that I know how to do this, scoop self-help off the internet and churn it around and make myself cry and strike something true. Something good enough to write about. I'm grateful for my feedly which is like a conveyor belt bringing stuff like this to my attention, I'm grateful for 750 Words where I can churn things, and I'm grateful for Blogger where I can plate them up, and I'm grateful for my Power 30 group for being a tiny audience who I can serve this to, and to bring this back to full circle, giving me little clues for what I should be looking for on the conveyer belt. I think I'm supposed to say that this is great about myself, which doesn't seem very humble to me. But. This is. Sort of great about me.

My self-help apparatus is an ice cream factory, apparently.

Step 5: Work with Curiosity

Finally, going forward, let’s practice tossing out our expectations of how we’re going to do today (and in life in general), and instead adopt an attitude of curiosity. We don’t know how we’re going to do at work, or in our relationships, or with our personal habits. We can’t know. So let’s find out: what will today be like? How will it go?

Be curious, in an attitude of not-knowingness.

Well, this happened. I made myself cry. I had an epiphany about enough. I churned up this sort of raw blog post to plate and serve. Lord, what this blog is turning into. Come for the racerback tank, stay for the journey through depression.


Look, I made a Google Form for when I need to run this script again.

It’s fun to find out things!

Yes, expectations will come up for us, and we will fail to live up to them, and we will feel frustration and disappointment again. This will happen, and this too will be a bit disappointing, because we want to be perfect at being curious and present. We’ll have to repeat the process when we notice this happening. That’s OK. That’s how it works — constantly renewing, never done.

But as we get better at this, I promise, we’ll learn to see things with a new curiosity, with a gratitude for every moment that we meet, and with a more loving and kind view of constantly failing but constantly striving selves. These selves are wonderful, and that realization is worth the ever-constant journey.