This past week I have been going through something and I feel "icky." So whenever this happens to me I always use my own tools on myself. I was trained by Martha Beck and she taught me that you have to "live it to give it," and so I have been really living it.
Here is how I have worked through my own feelings and how I work with my clients:
Name the feeling: Feeling is “icky.”
First thing I do is try to find the THOUGHTS causing icky. This is much harder than it sounds. What I really want to do is find the person or the circumstance I can blame for feeling icky. So that is where I, and most of my clients, like to go first. So I think about everything they are doing wrong and how they aren't treating me well and how they could treat me better. This feels good for a few minutes, and then I realize I still feel icky. I would really like them to call me up and apologize. I would like them to tell me that I am the best thing that ever happened to them. I would like them to send me emails praising me and my abilities. I would like them…..well you get the picture. If only other people would cooperate and follow the manual of how we would like them to behave. Life would be so much better. Right?
So after I go around with this for about two hours, two days or more, I come back to finding my thoughts that are causing the icky. I close the book on the manual for everyone else and I open myself up to taking responsibility for how I am feeling. I sit alone and write down the thoughts that I am thinking that are causing my feelings. Here is what I came up with this week:
I am not very good at this.
I am not as smart as Jenny.
They aren't going to want me.
I can't do it right.
I screwed it all up.
I am too intense.
I am too over the top.
I am over confident.
I knew if I really was myself no one would like me.
This is hopeless.
Wow. I wonder why I am feeling icky? Duh!
Ok, so next step is to evaluate these thoughts and see if they are true and stick to the facts. So here are the facts of the situation:
She says she is having a hard time implementing my idea.
I have received 5 emails of appreciation for this idea.
Here are the turn arounds on my thoughts:
I am very good at this.
I am as smart as Jenny.
They do want me.
I can do it right.
I did not screw it up.
I am not too intense.
I am not over the top.
I am confident.
I am myself, and lots of people like me
This is hopeful.
Ok, so now I read this list and I check for authenticity. I am not trying to lie to myself and say I believe the turn arounds if I don't. But I do want to see if they are equal grains of truth. I can see that I am good at what I do. I can see that Jenny is brilliant and much better at some things than I will ever be, but I am smart in my own ways. I have much evidence that they want me and like what I am doing. I have no evidence that I have screwed anything up, and I know this is just my own self-inflicted drama. Too intense for what? How can I be too intense? I am intense and that is ok. In fact, many people have told me they like my intensity. My husband is always telling my not to dilute myself. My friends tell me they don’t want "Brooke Lite." I am over the top and that is ok. Part of being over the top means I take big risks and I wouldn't have it any other way. Yes, I am confident in my abilities and I am not over-confident because I am open to feedback and listen to it very empathetically and thoughtfully. And finally, this is hopeful. I am willing to suck at it and I am willing not to be perfect. That feels good to me.
Whenever I do this work on myself-which is usually daily- I have so much admiration for my clients. This work is hard, and sometimes I feel raw and exposed and want to crawl into a bag of Doritos and hide. I know that is how they feel much of the time, and it helps that I COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY understand.
Life would be so much easier if everyone was unconditionally accepting of everything we do. But the truth is, we can only expect that of ourselves. How in the world can we expect other people to shower us with appreciation when we can't even do it for ourselves? How can we expect them to have positive thoughts about us, when our thoughts about ourselves are negative and untrue? We can't.
Even if everyone would follow our manual and behave in a way that made us feel good, we would still have to work on ourselves. There really is no way around it if we want to have joy.
So after doing this work with myself I may not be feeling joyous; but I am somewhere in between icky and joy. And that is a heck of a lot better than feeling icky and having my stomach full of Ben and Jerry's. It's progress, but not perfection.