“This weather is crushing my soul,” I thought.
For context, it’s been overcast for eight million days where I live. I love a good thunderstorm and feel like we don’t get enough of them, but one long continuous rainy day is kicking me in the emotional gut.
Soon after my non-dramatic thought, I had another one. “Wow. I just gave all my emotions to rain. That was dumb. I wonder what else I tend to give all my emotions to?”
It wasn’t hard to come up with a list. I wish I could say I was surprised. I would prefer not to be dramatic but that would be like trying to stop having cellulite, and that’s not going anywhere anytime soon. I’m a drama queen, and I blame my mother.
Besides endless rain, I have given control of my emotions to bad mom moments, broken relationships, hurtful comments from people I love, total job failures, a fight with my husband, and even my ‘should’ list. You know, the things I should be doing but never seem to, thus inducing feelings of laziness and failure. Oh my gosh, I could go on and on.
To be clear, control of my emotions means that for a time, my thoughts and feelings are more powerful than my knowledge of what is true. For example, for all the moments I feel like a bad mom, there are a more hundred where I did all right. I have trouble acknowledging the good ones because somewhere in my mind I am convinced the one thing I did wrong will be the only thing my kids remember. There was one particular moment of mom guilt I had been living with for years. One day I apologized to my daughter about it, and she laughed and said, “I don’t even remember that.” So the thing that had been eating me alive and marking me as a mom fail wasn’t even something my kiddo remembered. (It may come out later if she is ever in therapy though, so I’m still glad I apologized.)
I am in the process of learning that most of the time, my emotions are lying to me. It’s okay to feel all the feelings, but when I start to assign them as characteristics of my life, I’ve gone off course. One bad mom moment does not a bad mom make. Emotions are flawed like a gross cake made without sugar. They lack grace. So to put my feelings in charge of my life is a gross misuse of power.
I have a dog affectionately nicknamed, Monster. He’s six pounds of cute and awful mixed together. He barks obnoxiously, pees where he shouldn’t, thinks he’s the king of the castle and refuses to obey commands. He’s utterly incorrigible. I have tried to train him better, but he’s a stubborn punk. So we put up a lot of baby gates. We yell at him like the angriest people in the world when he starts barking, and it seems like his head might pop off, and we watch him like a hawk when he’s outside because he will totally poop on the patio if we don’t. No matter what we are doing, when he scratches at the door to go out, we stop everything…a movie, cooking dinner, writing a blog post, etc. We joke that he’s free to a home and it doesn’t even have to be a good one. (We really need to consider hiring a professional to help.) My point is that this ball of fur has become the ruler of our home. We cater to him and not to the reality that we are bigger, stronger, and smarter than him. WE ARE THE BOSS OF HIM so why is he in control?
In this story, my dog represents my emotions and the imbalance of power. Do you see how this is sick and wrong?
The question is how do I reestablish balance? I’ve learned to recognize my triggers (i.e., when I use phrases like ‘soul-crushing.’) Then I play true or false with my thought (it’s almost always false.) Next, I rewrite it. For example, the weather is crushing my soul becomes, “Where can I find sunshine while Mother Nature works out her issues?” When I do this, I take back control. It takes practice and patience but as a strong woman, I know I can do it. I am the only boss of me.
For me, sunshine on a rainy day will come in the form of a Smoked Butterscotch latte from Starbucks, spending time with a friend, or watching a movie. It could be looking for funny videos on YouTube, buying some new organizing supplies, or curling up on the sofa with Monster in my lap remembering that the rain, like my emotions, is temporary.
I might be the only person in the whole world who struggles with dramatic emotions, but if you resemble this struggle, I’d love to hear what you’ve learned and some best practices for coping! Leave a comment and let’s keep the conversation going.