This is one of the most interesting times in my life, at least as far as my mental state goes. Why so interesting? Oddly enough, it’s because I’m not in a tizzy about anything. It’s not because my life has suddenly turned out to be like I imagined adulthood would be as a child, where you go to work, come home and do hobbies, enjoy a meal with your loving spouse, and sleep soundly, knowing you have the money to pay all your bills. Nope, that’s not it.
Rather, as I’ve mentioned in other blog posts, it seems as if all the things I have been working on to become my best self have taken effect, at least for the most part. Like what, you ask?
First, I had to accept myself the way I am. I’m human, with some issues that led me to develop some habits and tendencies that might bug people (let’s see, over-reacting to perceived criticism, crying when confronted angrily, problems with being “yelled at” or picked on, sarcasm, coming across as “looking down” at people…whatever). It’s weird, once I convinced myself that it was okay to be who I am, so many of those behaviors lessened. I haven’t cried in AGES other than when totally appropriate (death of people and dogs I love, mainly).
I think I’ve mentioned before that practicing positive self talk finally worked, and even my background thoughts have turned more positive. I hear, “I feel good today,” “I’m doing a good job,” and such, rather than thoughts about sadness and depression and inadequacy. I’m adequate. How about that?
Second, I’ve had to internalize what I’ve been old over and over again by friends and therapists, which is that other people’s opinions of me don’t define me. I spent WAY too much of my life trying to please every authority figure who wandered into my life (see, my dad wasn’t perfect…I somehow came to believe that since I couldn’t be pretty, I had to earn his love by being smart and well behaved). I tried to be what my teachers wanted me to be, my friends expected me to be, same deal for professors, bosses, spouses, children, etc. If I found out I’d disappointed someone, I’d be devastated and very, very hard on myself.
I’m glad the internal locus of control (or whatever is going on) kicked in during the last couple of years, since it’s been tested pretty hard this year. I seem to have done something to upset my older son so much that he won’t talk to me, and has informed me he will talk when he’s ready (the only words he’s spoken to me since January). As you can imagine, it was pretty darned tempting to beat myself up on a daily basis, call myself a failure as a parent, and so on. But, that actually didn’t last too long at all. I’m sad about it, but realize that it’s his choice to do the silent treatment rather than work things out, and perhaps I’m not the only one making mistakes. I’ve come to a rather neutral point of view about this, which has kept me able to function.
The third skill I’ve finally gotten a better grip on is the ability to live in the moment, which much of my life I associated with being able to really enjoy washing the dishes rather than just hurrying through it to get to something more interesting. I’ve studied meditation, Zen, other forms of Buddhism, and other ways of becoming more centered on where I am NOW, and it’s kicked in, only recently.
I find that I’m finally ridding myself of two of my most annoying traits (to me): dwelling on mistakes I’ve made in the past, and worrying about what might happen in the future. It had to really, really sink in that while I can learn from the past, I don’t need to analyze it every minute of the day and miss what’s actually happening. And I had to get it through my psyche that “pre-worrying” doesn’t change a darned thing and also makes me miss what’s happening now. Of course I can make plans (and should), but going over and over possible consequences of my many options is not helpful.
So, here I am in my moment of Zen, as they say on the Daily Show. My new skills wax and wane, but at least I have them! The best result is that I can look at the changes and possibilities in my work and personal life and be interested, but not overwhelmed with worry. Whatever happens, I’ll deal with it and see what new opportunities arise.
Who IS this woman and where did Suna go?