Friday, June 22, 2012

Listening to Myself

It is amazing how much we ignore ourselves.

I've been reading The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra, and listening to ourselves is one of the things he brings up when reading a decision for being wrong or right (he also brings up being nonjudgmental... so I'm still muddling through how to determine a decision is wrong or right while maintaining a state of nonjudgment. If you know, please help me through this).

Our bodies manifest our decisions. My guts (the technical term) start to churn and hurt when I'm making a decision I know doesn't jive with me. I've had a vice grip wrapped around my chest for the last two months as I muddle through decisions about work and school. When I hit on the right decision for me, I can feel these tell- tale signs ease off, giving me a little space to breathe and relax. As soon as I tell myself the right decision can't happen, because of this factor or that person needing me, I feel everything tighten up again.

What happens when we ignore those signs? I can only live with an ill-fitting decision for so long. I start lashing out at the wrong people, I lose my ability to be patient with others, and I can't decipher between an overarching sense of malaise or if a situation calls for wariness. In other words, my intuition gets totally borked up. It makes perfect sense. When I don't listen to myself, I can't interpret my voice when I need it the most.

The funny thing about decisions is we often assign them a sort of permanence that isn't always real. Very rarely is a situation absolutely unchangeable, and as humans (specifically homo sapiens), changes fuel our creativity, our adaptability, and our chance at thriving. When I make a decision, why do I often assign it this permanence? I like to think it is my sense of responsibility. I've said I would do something, so I will see this through. Instead of freaking out that this decision is going to haunt me forever, I can acknowledge it,  and then make moves to alter it or accept it.

So the real goal: start listening to my instinct. Stop giving my time and energy to things that exhaust me, and make me feel tense and used up. If I do accidentally allow this to happen, I will ask myself this quesiton: can I accept the consequences of my decision? If not, what can I do to change it?

I'm pretty certain we don't need to get overly stuck on a decision or two. Today I'm going to focus on appreciating the grace in my life. There is a lot of it, and I'm not going to let a few wrong turns make me lose sight of the bigger stuff. I don't like myself much when I do that. Instead, I'm going to remember when I clean out the junk in my life, I'm opening up space for something even better.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Speaking Up

We have needs.

And that is okay. I am really good at forgetting that one. I get it stuck in my head I have to take care of everything on my own, and asking for help is not just a sign of weakness, but will cause people I care about some sort of pain. Even worse, I may cause pain to someone I don't care about (figure that one out).

I had a friend who had no problem speaking up when something wasn't to her standard. We would be at dinner, she would order something, and if it turned out to be different than she expected, but wasn't something she wanted, she would send it back. Killer thing about this: the restaurant always took it back, and never charged her for the meal. Did she do this at every meal? Heavens no, but she asserted herself to get what she ultimately wanted. I was super impressed.

Asserting ourselves to get what we want versus what we need requires the same attention to ourselves. It is one thing to demand my burger be cooked properly, but it always seems harder to state what I need. One of my bosses has gotten a significant amount of free help from me. The funny thing is: it really doesn't bug me all that much. I don't mind helping out, and I like interacting with our clients. When this boss did ask me to trade for our marketing, and it sounded like I wasn't going to be compensated for it, I immediately felt angry. I know for a fact the office can afford some marketing materials, so I was immediately suspicious of the deal. Does it bug me to trade? No, but in this case I needed to be compensated. When I expressed this, I felt much better about the situation, and it reminded my boss that I'm not a volunteer.

Burying our needs does nothing to help us in the long run, it just makes us even more crazy. I've been under a great deal of mental stress that doesn't exactly make sense, so I must be in need of something I've buried and tried to put out of mind. A few things keep popping up that make me suspect what these needs are.

1. I keep screwing up my schedule, and then screwing it up more when I try to fix it.
2. I seriously considered painting "Mobile Massage Response Unit" on my car, and putting a flashing light on top of it.
3. I've been saying "No" to requests that really should not be issues at all, and add little or no stress to my life.
4. A sense of feeling overwhelmed is never far from the surface, and it isn't too hard to make me cry.

My mother might say "you need a psychologist, or at least someone to talk to who isn't involved". She might not be wrong, but I'm looking for something a  little more internal. I think I need to protect my schedule. I feel like I have to say yes to every little work deal thrown in front of me, including clients who need me to make long drives to them (why can't they  make long drives to me?), clients on days I don't normally work, and clients back to back with important family events.

Going from having no work to enough work is an amazing thing. I am really grateful for the work that has come my way, but at the same time, I have to recognize that I can't fix everyone, and maybe even more importantly, I can't go out of my way to do so. It is flattering to have clients call me after a year and a half to ask for work, but driving for an hour to do that work isn't really helping me build a client base or helping me build my bank account. That money goes right back into my gas tank.

I used to say there is a list of clients I will bend over backward to see, and I think I am going to have to alter that attitude. By referring these far-away clients to other therapists I love, I am sharing the wealth, and maybe it will come back to me in the form of other clients I will be more than happy to see at my office.

It's okay to need to work close to home, and not have to drive an hour to make a little cash. Really. It is.

Your challenge for this week:
Identify an need you've been trying to ignore. Acknowledge it is okay to need it, and make a plan to satisfy that need.