It’s two weeks into month seven of my Happiness Project. By this point, it should come as no surprise that I’m a) having trouble with my resolutions, and b) getting my second wind, gaining insights, and recommitting to my project.
While this should come as no surprise, every month is does.
Surprises aside, I have been having some trouble with my resolutions, but I’ve experienced some insights and I’m ready to recommit to my project.
I’ve been trying to figure out why it is I let all of my emotions build up and build up until the pressure becomes too great and they spew all over my husband (in the form of me screaming and yelling).
My newest hypothesis is that I live my life basically just trying to get through the day, shoving aside any of my own emotions because I don’t want to make time to deal with them. I was thinking about how in seismology, frequent small tremors help relieve pressure and prevent a major earthquake (this is probably poor geology here, but it doesn’t have to be accurate for the metaphor to work). Using this analogy, I’m thinking that if I can recognize my emotions as they come up and perhaps even express them, maybe I can avoid the Big One that could cause California to break off and become an island.
Now I’ve got Tori Amos’ “Little Earthquakes” running through my head.
Or maybe it’s more like the valve on a pressure cooker (I know about as much about these as I do about earthquakes). I need to let a little steam escape so I don’t end up with stewed tomatoes all over the ceiling.
Enough with the analogies.
Remember way back in August, one of my resolutions I scrapped was an Emotions Log? (Wayne’s World-type dissolve to the August kickoff post…) I want to go back to the idea of the Emotions Log but without the log part. I need to get out of my intellectual mind to recognize my emotions. I think it kind of defeats the purpose to leave the emotions again and go back into my intellectual mind in order to write them down. Who’s going to check that I’ve done my assignment, anyway? I’ll recognize my feelings and then I’ll sit with them and take a couple of deep breaths to allow them to spread throughout my body so they can dissipate rather than getting pressed together in a little ball.
I do a very similar thing for my kids when they’re having strong emotions. I help them name the emotion (or name it for them), then just sit with them until they can calm down. I try very hard not to make any judgments, positive or negative, about the emotions they’re experiencing. We just recognize them and let them run their course. When they calm down, we can decide whether we need to do anything in response to the emotions or just let them be. Maybe I can do the same thing for myself. At the very least, it will be good modeling for the kids, and it might help me to be more gentle with them and my husband, too.
This is probably going to be the big challenge of the more others-focussed months. It’s so easy for me to just fall back into ignoring myself in favor of giving to others. But of course, if I’m not meeting my own needs in at least the most basic way, I’m not going to have any reserves to offer anyone else.
How’s that for a pep talk?