Tag Archives: self-awareness

Anger Management

I can be a *tad* moody sometimes. (Read: I have been known to scream in a Basil Fawlty-esque manner and kick inanimate objects over what might seem minor irritations to more zen-like beings.) Not all the time, but some times. And it’s never nice. Not for me or for those around me.

The problem is that once you find yourself in that wound up state it’s very hard to get yourself out of it. At least that’s my experience. And the truth is that the kicking and screaming doesn’t help. You think it will be a release, and it may be for a micro-second, but then the anger bounces back and winds you even tighter.

Tonight I found myself escalating into one such mood. I caught myself tossing toys into their boxes with increasing force as I tidied up the play room. I was snappy and belligerent with my other half. I made more noise doing the dishes than a jumbo jet on take off.

Luckily for me my other half isn’t one to let me get away with it. He challenged me to explain my mood. I couldn’t at first. I really didn’t know why I was feeling so goddamned grumpy but I was. As he probed further and I got rattier, eventually it sprang to the surface. I was actually feeling hurt and left out by a friend. I blurted out my grievances in a rush, surprising even myself with the source. I cried a little. (Well, quite a lot actually.)

I got it off my chest. And then I felt better.

The key is finding the source. Generally speaking it’s not actually the thing at which we are throwing the shoe and mostly it’s not even the person at whom we are snapping. More often than not it’s some hurt within ourselves. Looking in and asking the question can really take the wind out of the gale of anger that is blowing.

Once my brave other half had helped me to identify the source he went so far as to propose a solution. If I’m feeling left out then I need to make the effort to reach out. Instead of feeling angry with people for not calling me or including me in their plans I need to be the one making the calls and the plans. Taking control of my life and my moods.

Simples eh? Like all the best things in life, it’s magnificent simplicity and profound complexity all rolled into one. Now there’s something to meditate on.

 

Conquering Fear

‘I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing,’ Steven King, ‘On Writing’.

When I spoke about achieving the impossible through visualization what I was really talking about was conquering the fear that prevented me from performing at my best.

To get in your flow you need to control your fear. Visualizing facing your fear and controlling it means that when you come face to face with it in reality, your mind and body have a positive response.

Through visualizing myself climbing the moves on my route, powering through my fear on the tricky sections, when I actually came to those tricky sections I automatically dug deep and powered through, just like I had pictured in my mind.

Rock-climbing when your fear is in control of you goes a little like this:

You grip so needlessly tight on the handholds that you quickly build up lactic acid in your forearms and lose power. You breathe rapidly and shallowly, panic builds and you scrabble your way up the climb any which way you can. Inevitably, your legs start to tremble (disco-leg as it’s called). Just a little at first, but the very fact that you’re trembling freaks you out as you realize you could shake yourself off the rockface, even on the easiest section. Unremarkably, this thought fails to calm you and your legs start to shake more violently. Your focus is unrelentingly fixed on each upcoming bolt where you can clip your rope in to temporary safety – you barely notice the featured rock in between where the hand and footholds are awaiting discovery and where the dance that is actual climbing is done. You forget how to climb. You suck all of the fun out of it.

Fear sabotages your performance. Learning to conquer fear, to stare it in the face and carry on regardless, can release you to be your best. Know your enemy. Analyze how fear stops you from being your best and visualize yourself beating it.

Self-Actualized?

It’s been a while. You could be forgiven for imagining that perhaps I had self-actualized and ascended on to some higher plane in a flurry of new year resolution fever. Sadly this is not the case. I’m still here, with the same old feet of clay.

Having said that, January 2013 has been a good month. A positive start to the year. My one simple resolution has been serving me well. Despite my sneaking suspicion that perhaps my deliberately singular and undeniably vague resolution might just be a clever avoidance tactic on my part, it has in fact worked very well.

Despite making no specific resolutions regarding the old faithfuls of exercise, diet and alcohol consumption, I have been behaving impeccably in all of these arenas. Well, I say impeccably. What I mean is pretty good. Certainly better than usual. Which is good enough for me.

Exercise-wise I have been rock climbing regularly, at least 3 times a week and, best of all, thoroughly enjoying it. My head has been in a good place, in terms of both putting effort in training and enjoying the actual climbing – not letting my head get in the way, being scared or psyching myself out. Result.

I’ve also started running regularly, 2 to 3 times a week. Not particularly far but far enough and hilly enough to feel it. I’ve buddied up with a friend of mine who lives near by and who until recently was more of an acquaintance than a friend, if I’m honest. It’s nice to spend some time and develop a closer bond. Friendships are always a good thing. As is fitness. My energy levels certainly feel the benefit, as does my mood. I am now more keenly aware than ever of how grumpy and ‘stuck’ I feel if I don’t at least get some exercise every day.

Diet-wise there has not been much change. I have a fairly healthy diet anyway – mostly home-cooked meals at regular times, with lots of fruit and vegetables and a good fluid intake. I toyed with the idea of intermittent fasting (the latest thing in dieting) – it appeals because of the health benefits attributed rather than weight loss per se. But in the end I decided against it as I really don’t need to lose any weight and, given that, I believe it could be psychologically unhealthy to embark on a diet and to start to potentially obsess over food.

Funnily enough, I have actually gained a kilo or two since New Year’s, which is unusual for me. I am normally very constant in my weight. This is going to sound like self-delusion but I am actually pretty convinced that it’s through muscle gain. I have been training more than ever and focusing on power in climbing and very much on my core. I even thought for a fleeting moment that I might have caught sight of the very beginnings of a six-pack but then it disappeared into the mists like a deer startled in the woods.

While I made no plans to give up alcohol in January, my consumption of it has definitely decreased. Training and being more active is a great incentive to drink less. Exercising with the dregs of last night’s alcohol in your system is never going to get you the best results. Equally hooking up with friends to train in the evening leaves less time for boozing.

So, yes. All good. Still room for improvement, obviously, but wouldn’t life be boring if it were otherwise?

Resolution Road

In the words of the great Oscar Wilde, ‘I can resist anything but temptation.’ Which is partly why my plan to NOT make a heap of new year’s resolutions seemed so clever to me. There’s nothing like a pile of prohibitions to bring out the hedonist in me. One day I may grow up and stop behaving like a naughty schoolgirl but in the meantime it’s best to be practical and accept my limitations.

So, two weeks in how am I doing with my one simple resolution?

The simple answer is: really well. I’m contented and generally feel like I am making some small but positive changes in my life. Step by painless step. My life hasn’t changed radically overnight but that’s possibly the point. Real, lasting change is not about a 10 hour makeover. It’s about slow, steady, sustained movement towards positive goals.

Don’t get me wrong – dangle the potential of a whirlwind whisking me into effortless and instantaneous happiness in front of me and I’m as much of a sucker as the next person. Possibly more. But that is also how I have accumulated enough experience to realize that that kind of stuff doesn’t stick.

So, for example, I haven’t made any rash promises to give up alcohol entirely in 2013. However, having not given up alcohol I have found that I have barely drunk any. This has been easy, because I haven’t been focused on alcohol and thinking about giving it up…..and ergo thinking about alcohol more than usual.

I have been simply trying to focus on ‘being the uncarved block’ and trying to do what feels right at every juncture of every day. I have been asking myself the question: ‘does this feel right?’ and, crucially, stopping to listen to the answer. It’s amazing how powerful this can be and, conversely, how it deflates the power from temptations.

I may not yet have *quite* achieved Winnie the Pooh levels of ‘uncarved block’ -ness but that’s okay because it’s not about resolutions it’s about the road.

20120501-203353

My preferred tipple of the moment – camomile tea

Does This Feel Right?

It’s all very well launching oneself at the New Year with a highfalutin resolution but then you have to find a way to apply it and to measure it. Or do you? Shouldn’t a movement towards naturalness, towards the uncarved block, be by its very nature more simple than that? Less contrived?

I think so. Quite simply there is only one question to be asked. ‘Does this feel right?’ In every moment, for every decision, be it: ‘shall I have another coffee?’ ‘shall I sit and read or do the dishes first?’ ‘shall I go to bed now or stay up and watch a movie?’ or ‘should I take this job?’ ‘should I be with this person?’ Moving towards the uncarved block means taking a moment to ask yourself the question and to listen to your answer.

Deep down we all know what is right for us. We all know which actions will make us feel better. We just need to ask the question and to listen to the answer. We need to trust ourselves.

A Monday Morning Hangover: A Call to Action?

Today I have a hangover. Not a great start to the week. In fact, a pretty rubbish start to the week as, quite apart from feeling crap, I haven’t achieved half of the things I needed to today. It’s not like I even had some wild exciting night out last night that *might* have been worth it. I didn’t even drink that much but the combination of a couple of drinks with a midnight visit from a bed-stealing toddler is enough to disturb an entire night’s sleep and leave me hanging with tiredness.

Anyway, I say this not to moan (well, not just to moan) but also to acknowledge the fact out loud. Alcohol just makes me feel crap and stops me from doing the things I want to. Even in pretty small amounts. Hmmmm…. There is an obvious conclusion to be drawn here. The question is, dare I draw it?

Maybe now is not the time to make any radical declarations of intent with regard to alcohol consumption. We are just about to embark on the joyous chaos that is the festive season when temptations and indulgences and social gatherings are all around.

There again, maybe it’s the perfect time to review my relationship with alcohol and to draw up some guidelines for my use of it. Time to set some clear limits before I *potentially* get carried away in the heat of the moment (or the buzz of a party.)

Plus we’re also coming up to that magical time of year when people across the western world unite in making unrealistic resolutions that they’re never going to keep taking stock of their lives and looking at where they can make positive changes.

So, the question is: what rules do I need to apply in order to make my relationship with alcohol a purely positive one? Should I ban it entirely? Or just be strict about consuming it only in moderation?

My gut instinct tells me that having the discipline and balance to consume it in true and absolute moderation would be a healthier approach but possibly also the harder one. That may just be my Irish background influencing me. Ireland is a land of saints and sinners, of alcoholics and abstainers. There is little room in the mythology for the balanced, happy medium. Where’s the drama, the story, the fire in that?

The thing is I think I may be getting comfortable with the idea that I can live without any great dramatic tension in my life. How much nicer it would be to just let the drama play out in my creative life. Maybe I don’t need to live up to some unconscious archetypes of a binging hedonist or an abstemious ascetic. I’ve never quite been up to the standards of Brendan Behan or the sackcloth and ashes crew anyway. But these extremes have been painted so starkly that they are actually clearer to see and to follow, even if at several paces behind. The happy, balanced medium way is actually hazier and more difficult to picture and define.

Perhaps that’s what I need to do then. Spend some time thinking about and picturing what my happy medium with alcohol would be. Conjuring up the whole character and story. Then perhaps I’ll be able to slip into that story with an effortless ease right at the point where I want to be.

Perhaps if I devote attention and energy and good intentions to this process over the next couple of weeks then by January 1 I’ll be clearer on how I want the story to unwind in 2013 and beyond. Sound like a plan to you?

Any help in fleshing out the character of a moderate drinker would be gratefully received. Do you have any tips you’d like to share on what constitutes a healthy, moderate relationship with the demon drink? (You see, I can’t help but sink into melodrama with this. Must stop.)

And how about your new year’s resolutions – is anything beginning to whirl around in your head? Any changes you would like to see in your life for 2013? Let’s make it our best year yet!

How Rude!

You know what they say, ‘my job would be fine if it weren’t for the ruddy clients.’ At least I think that’s how the saying goes. If not, then I’m patenting it today. You read it here first.

Anyway, I have spent most of today being gradually wound up further and further by some exceedingly demanding and downright rude clients. I don’t like rudeness. I guess nobody does but I really don’t like rudeness. I’m also unused to working in a sales role where, I’m quickly learning, it seems (some) people think you’re simply obliged to bend over backwards to please them and to just sit there and suck up any rudeness they dish out at you without retaliating or challenging it in any way. Hmmmph.

Ordinarily I’m more of a ‘point out that what you just said/how you just said it isn’t really acceptable’ kind of a girl. I find it makes me feel a lot better than biting it back and pushing it down into a seething mass of bile in my tummy. But in the context of client relations I can see that that *could* be tantamount to cutting my nose off to spite my face. I might win a rather tiny victory in standing up for myself and pointing out their transgressions but if I then lose a potential sale and therefore my income (yes, it’s as black and white as that – I’m self-employed: no sale, no money. At all.) then it would be a pyrrhic victory at best.

So, at various points today I have stepped away from my phone and taken a few deep breaths, reminded myself of the outcome I am looking for (a sale! some cash!) and that I am not these people’s keeper. It is not my place to lecture them on their behaviour and, thank God!, I don’t have to live with them. I have also had to ring my partner to offload at him. Somebody needed to hear how rude they were being, it just couldn’t be them.

Once I had taken these steps I was able to re-engage in conversation with them, focused steadfastly on my goal and manfully ignoring when their behaviour veered to the unreasonable. And writing about it now is also helping.

I think they were having a bad day, plus I think they probably just don’t have very good manners generally. But that’s not my problem and I need to be sure I don’t turn it into my problem by responding to it.

What about you? Do you have any techniques for dealing with rudeness? How do you dispel the negativity of others without internalizing it yourself? All tips gratefully received!