Blood pressure is up. My breathing is slightly erratic. Throat feels choked up. Heart is pounding away. I have a scowl permanently etched on my face. Look down at my watch. It’s only 7:15am. WTF?
How is it possible to be so angry so early in the day? And not just one day. But many days. In a row.
It’s a question I’ve been asking myself repeatedly since this all started several weeks ago. This funk seemingly came out of nowhere, dug its claws in and latched on for a long ride. The intensity of this anger and my failure to keep it in check or to just “get over it” bothered me.
Sure, we all have bad days. There are peaks and valleys and we learn to deal with it with whatever tools we’ve developed to cope with those negative emotions. This seemed like more than just a bad day. There’s something wrong here, I thought.
This year began with my very proactive attempt to get a handle on the issues that have kept me from being happy with where I am in my life. I spent forty days concentrating on my relationship with myself and I was all the better for it by the end. I’m a recovering giver, if you will.
Most of my adult life has been spent sacrificing myself in favor of everyone else. It got to a point where I was always playing second fiddle to everyone and everything in my life because I’d put myself in that role or label. I’m still digging deep to try and figure out why its easier for me to keep myself down instead of listening to the supportive words shared by my loved ones.
I realize now that this effort I’m putting into finding those answers is integral to my future and moreover, to my current state of happiness and satisfaction with my life. I’ve made a commitment to embrace health from a whole body approach that encompasses mind, body, and spirit in order to attain optimal living. For the first time in my life I’m nurturing my heart and my soul in a genuine way.
I couldn’t tell you when the shift began, but it did. Suddenly, I found that a lot of the things that I used to stress about (“I have no idea what I’m doing with my life/Everyone else is more successful than I am/I’ll always be single and alone/Why am I working at this job that I hate?”), didn’t affect me in the same way. In some ways it was like someone had shut off a radio that has constantly buzzing in my head. I felt clear. I still feel clear. And liberated.
So it was with this good energy and new-found confidence that I broke through my barriers to really commit myself to this blog and my passion to share my experiences and help motivate others to take charge of their lives. I used to feel tied down to a certain plan that required me to get all sorts of degrees from fancy universities and fancier jobs that had nothing to do with what truly interests me. Now I can dedicate myself to exploring what I used to consider fanciful and make it work for me and no one else. Putting myself first, finally!
I should’ve known that there’d be some kind of cosmic negative feedback. As I got busier with the blog and my exercise program, I could feel the stress start to kick in and with that, the anger that was practically seeping from my pores up until a few days ago.
I’m a fairly easy-going person but I found myself sniping at anyone who’d ask me a question, avoiding conversations, and just feeling sick to my stomach with misery. I usually snap out of it with some meditation or writing, but none of that worked. How could this be happening? Life is finally starting to get good? I’m not supposed to be angry!
This ugly mess did a great job of throwing me off my stride. I walked away from this blog and felt overwhelmed by what I was creating. My lifting at the gym felt weak and it was hard to focus and clear my mind, which is the part I love most about strength training. I sought refuge in food and were it not for a modicum of self control due to my overall obsessiveness when it comes to what I’m eating, this could have been a disaster. I’ll just have to take those chocolate covered pretzels as a loss.
And I shut myself off from my friends, my go-to self defense when I’m feeling those insecurities and fears creep back in. This is the real kicker and it’s something I thought I’d stopped doing. Turns out I was wrong.
“Just start the day over,” she told me. Those were the words it took to snap me out of it a few days ago. Seems simple and a bit ridiculous to boil it down to five words, but the advice handed to me by a co-worker when I decided to openly talk about my sour mood, did the job.
I got up from my desk, went to the restroom, and just breathed. Hit the reset button. It took a bit of time, but by the end of the day I could feel the tension begin to ease.
It took the realization a bit longer to hit me and when it did, it allowed me to see things a bit more clearly.
“I am not my lack mentality.”
First, it’s okay to have a bad day or even a bad week. When I felt my life start to go on an upward spiral, a part of me felt like I couldn’t allow myself to be angry anymore. After spending so many years caught up in negativity, it seemed wrong to spoil my recent achievements by reliving past emotions. But the reality is that my life isn’t perfect no matter how much I’ve changed recently. I’m still at a job that leaves me dissatisfied and there are latent insecurities and fears with what I’ve chosen to do outside of that job. I have to let those bad vibes air out to make room for the good. Suppressing them will only make it worse.
“I could see peace instead of this.”
Second, you can choose to let it go. Again, it seems simple, but that’s the point. I’m a champion brooder. Olympic worrywart. Eternal pessimist. Or at least, I hope to say that the old me was all of those things. It’s very easy to go on repeating past recriminations in my head until it’s like they’re fresh wounds all over again. This time I chose the more difficult path. I chose to just drop it and focus on looking ahead instead of what I (happily) left behind.
“I am responsible for what I see.”
Third, this is all motivated by fear and I have faith in my ability to manage that. Fear is deceptive and it catches us off guard sometimes. But instead of succumbing and allowing fear to paralyze me, I can use it to gauge my success. In order for me to transform my fears and the emotions it produces (like anger) into productive energy, I need to learn how to approach fear in a positive way. My impulse is to hide and I’m pretty good at it because I spent so many years doing exactly that. If a good opportunity arises that scares me, I can choose to use that fear to inspire me to step forward and accept those invitations instead of jumping back as I’ve always done in the past. I’ve already done this several times this year and its yielded really exciting results. I guess I just needed to remember that.
“I forgive myself for choosing fear. Today I choose love instead.”
And lastly, I need to forgive myself. I felt wrong for being so angry which only made me feel worse. Constantly pinning the blame on my shoulders leaves me with an unbearable weight sometimes and I need to start shrugging that off much more often. I have to allow myself to make mistakes and to forgive myself when things don’t go the way I expect. Forgiveness is key to moving forward and that’s the direction I’m focused on: straight ahead.
Perhaps the greatest lesson I’ve learned from this latest emotional rollercoaster is that in order to become fearless, you need these moments of self-doubt and anger. It’s when my walls are kicked down and I’m left vulnerable to all of the negative feelings that I work hard to suppress, that I’m finally able to open myself up to real change. In some ways you need this little dance step of two forward and one back in order to reset your mind and your emotions in a way that’s mindful of how far you’ve come and the work that still lies ahead.
For all of my self-awareness, I know that I don’t have all of the answers and that although seeking those answers is part of my drives me, it doesn’t make up the entire picture. It’s the journey and the exploration of what makes me the person that I am. I expect to have a bad day here and there. Only now I can choose to hit the reset button and start over as many times as necessary to keep myself on track. Thank goodness.
What makes you angry and how do you cope with those feelings? Do you believe that good health requires a mind-body connection of positive thoughts and feelings? If so, how do you achieve optimal living in your lives even if you’re having a bad day? Please feel free to drop me a line and share your thoughts! 🙂