Evil Gremlin Thoughts - January 3, 2015
My rear tire had a slow leak for several weeks, and I had good intentions to get it repaired. My husband reminded me that the tire looked low and I had intended to air it up. Unfortunately, good intentions do not fix or air up a tire, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when I came out of the grocery store and noticed that the tire was flat as a pancake. Anger boiled up, and I threw my groceries into the car while I contemplated what to do (call my husband). I wasn’t angry at the car or the tire, but at myself for putting off a simple repair for too long. As a result of my negligence, it is now going to cost me two new tires (which I needed soon anyway but that isn’t the point). To make matters worse, the spare tire was also flat, and it was 9 degrees outside.
This turned into a bigger ordeal than it needed to be and took the entire morning to get the spare fixed and back on my car. My morning was supposed to have been fun and relaxing. As it was, I got home around noon, chilled to the bone, and irritable.
I was amazed by how hard I was on myself over this event. STUPID, LAZY, and overall disgust consumed my thought process as I mentally kicked myself throughout the day. I recognized all of the evil gremlin thoughts brewing in my head and consistently tried to reason with them. The softer, gentler side of me attempted to soothe and forgive, but the negativity won. I was miserable and sought refuge in a good fiction book to escape these horrible thoughts and feelings.
Eventually, I remembered what I often tell others, “turn into the emotion and move through it.” People tend to run from emotions they do not want to experience because emotions can sometimes be rough, painful, and/or overwhelming. The numbing out process is relatively easy – I get lost in good fiction books, eat junk food, and tend to isolate from the world. My friends have tagged my process as “going dark.” There are several ways to numb out with the most recognizable as substance abuse, overeating, overspending, or overindulging in anything on a consistent basis (this includes television, books, work, video games, etc.). I’m sure you can identify yours.
According to Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, a research professor at the University Of Houston Graduate College Of Social Work, you cannot numb out selective emotions without numbing out all of them. It is necessary to experience and understand all feelings and how they influence your behavior (aka Emotional Intelligence). This does not mean that you “bleed” all over everyone or “bare your soul” to the world. It means:
• Define the emotion
• Understand your behavior with that emotion
• Understand the stress or trigger associated with the emotion
• And learn how you want to deal with it
So I took my own advice, stopped avoiding, and turned in toward the emotion and “looked” at it. As I sat with the feelings and let them wash through me, I was able to identify several different emotions swirling around: embarrassment, disappointment, fear, guilt, and annoyance. Exploring each one individually was not difficult.
• I was embarrassed because I did know better and put off something simple;
• disappointed in myself for not taking preventative steps as well as having my plans for the day disrupted;
• fearful because of how much this little mistake will take out of our savings;
• guilty because this took my husband away from work and inconvenienced him (plus he repeatedly reminded me about the low tire);
• and annoyed because of the inconvenience of it all (plus it was 9 degrees outside).
While the process of turning toward and identifying my emotions only took about 15 minutes to complete, processing and understanding the intensity of these emotions around this event has taken longer. However, after initially untangling and identifying the feelings, I noticed that I was calmer and able to relax.
The next day I found some gratitude’s for the situation:
• I’m grateful that my husband was willing and capable of coming to my rescue (especially since he absolutely hates the cold weather).
• I’m grateful that we have money in the savings to buy new tires.
• I’m grateful this happened in a parking lot and not on the highway or when we were in the hills hiking.
• I’m grateful this did not occur while I was driving at high speeds.
• I’m grateful for the people at the tire company for fixing my spare for free and not laugh at me.
Charlie was not with me when this happened, and I’m grateful for that, too. He was home waiting for me so I could take him on a hike. I was actually too chilled and irritated to hike and felt like I disappointed him. But Charlie is forgiving and didn’t appear to mind too much. I’m grateful for a role model like Charlie who can show me how to stay in the moment and let go of the past. I will learn from this incident and work to be more proactive about taking care of things when it is simpler to manage (an ounce of prevention). But I am not perfect and do not endeavor to be perfect…so I’m sure that there will always be something that I could have done better. But Charlie and my family love me no matter what, and I am okay…and that is what really counts in the end.
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