Monday, February 18, 2013

Emotional acne

Besides working on the regular stuff, lately I've also been working on myself. My emotional and mental self, that is. This involves a lot of energy and space, which is pretty hard to create in daily life.

I think I've been making some progress lately. After experiencing a migraine for the first time last week, I took my therapist's advice to lower my stress level seriously. He pointed out that although it requires a lot of investment up front, the payoff in increased productivity- and happiness- is more than with it. This weekend I paid more attention to myself and treated myself to everything from a mid-afternoon nap to changing the station every time the song wasn't exactly right. I ate well and snuggled with the kitty, took a warm bath... The result was a me that was more relaxed than any time I can remember in months.

Coming back to work on Monday was a challenge. In fact, going to bed on Sunday was an even bigger challenge. Despite my home-spa weekend, when my head hit the pillow I started having anxiety up the wahzoo. Not only was I too hot, itchy, and suffering from RLS, but feelings of hurt, anger, and wounded pride bubbled up as my mind recalled various interactions in the past few days.

You might think that this was a signal that my restful weekend treatment was a flop. However, my mother always told me that your brain tries to sabotage you when you begin to approach sensitive personal problems. It's a defense mechanism. Just as you might subconsciously protect yourself from the truth by lashing out at your partner when they bring up a sensitive issue, your own mind will sometimes "protect" you by reflecting your attention. "Dealing with this deeper personal issue is going to cause you a lot of stress!" your mind says (or at least, mine does). "Lots of bad things could happen!" Then it picks out every stupid negative experience you've had in the last week, no matter how small, and FIXATES on them.

I'm not fooled though. I know that unraveling the reasons for how I deal with stress from my personal history will allow me to replace these responses with better habits that will leave me less anxious and more in control. I think of it as something similar to a memory wipe and operating system reinstall on a computer; you get rid of all those weird glitches and start new again. The computer, or mind, works the way it was meant to without all the clutter.

This is all quite a bit of work. But if improving yourself were easy, then everyone would do it and no one would be a drug addict or theif or hoarder. And results aren't guaranteed or absolute. But I think its worth it to keep climbing the mountain of making a better, happier me.

posted from Bloggeroid

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