Capital P positive.
This last week, I've been nose-to-the-grindstoning my editorial calendar amidst finding a new job, and dealing with in-house ridiculousness. The idea for this post occurred to me when I was reading Angie's guest post about hair on Taylor's blog, and an article she posted on facebook about why she didn't want to read The Fault in Our Stars. Angie and I hung out and got drinks yesterday at my neighborhood dive. Her girlfriend brought a big box of colored pencils and a cheap sketchbook that we all tore out pages from and doodled on.
Seeing friends was just what I'd needed after a really intense 48 hours.
To summarize the bulk of what's been going on, one of our housemates that had been a royal pain in everyone's backside had finally moved out and we were working out how much of his security deposit he was going to get back. (Again, amidst me trying to find a new job/starting said new job, and working through my editorial calendar and other freelancing gigs.) I was spread thin, I was mad at this particular person, and I was trying to muster the energy to be a human being. It was difficult, but I did it.
As I'm sitting with my coffee, I started thinking about the lesson I was supposed to learn from this experience. My mother's barrage of sickening optimism started flowing through my ears: "It could always be worse, this is a learning experience, everything happens for a reason, something good will come of this eventually...." UGH. STOP. I just need some time to process everything that's gone on so I can keep moving with the rest of the items on my to-do list! In any case, here are some tips for when the shoulds are adding to your stress level.
HOW TO DEAL WITH "IMPOSED EXPECTATIONS" OF YOUR NEGATIVE FEELS
1. Figure out whose voice is coming at you.
Sometimes it comes from those around us, telling us how we should be dealing with whatever's going on in our lives. A lot of times it just feels like you have the hiccups and are getting unwarranted advice along with a bunch of cures you've already tried or heard from twenty other people. It's hard, but just smile and nod. A lot of times people's hearts are in the right place, but it just feels like a major drag. Acknowledge them, but know that you are in NO WAY required to take their advice to heart unless it's meaningful to you in some way.
The harder problem is when the voice is coming from inside you. Shutting off that voice is really difficult. If your idea of how you SHOULD be dealing with something vs. how you're actually dealing with something is drastically different, it's OK. IT'S OK. Give yourself some space. Turning down the volume on other people is way easier than turning down the volume on yourself. Remember that you are a human being. Sometimes bad feels happen.
Whether the voices are coming from you, or others, I find it's helpful to immerse myself in some other stimuli to take a break. I'll watch a movie, listen to some music, anything to shift my focus for a hot minute. It helps me calm down.
2. Acknowledge your feelings, and then let them go.
When I was in college, I had a teacher that told us about emotions masking other emotions. Her example was that when people get hungry, sometimes they're really crabby. What she was trying to tell us is that on the outside, it just reads as crabbiness, but the crabbiness is masking hunger. She used her son as the example, and said that after he realized he was hungry, not crabby, he was able to deal with that emotion instead.
What I'm saying here is that you should sit down and think about what you're actually feeling. Acknowledge that you may in fact be hungry. (I mean, not ~literally hungry.) Or perhaps if your other behavior is masking something like sadness, know that it's ok to be sad.
Coming to terms with your feelings, and acknowledging their presence instead of fighting it will save you valuable energy. It has for me, anyway.
3. Find what works for you, and do it.
When you're stressed, though it's probably ~polite to let people know you're at the end of your rope, know that you don't owe anyone an explanation of what you have to do to feel better. This isn't to say you aren't accountable for your behavior while trying to relocate your stasis; just that you don't owe anybody trying all of their ways to feel better. Or accepting their platitudes. Or pressing forward with a brave face.
Sometimes we just feel crappy. AND THAT'S OK.