This morning I screamed into a pillow. This lead to crying and curling up on the floor which lead to me feeling better. To be honest I am in a really go place and I am very fortunate and I do not have most of the stress others might have right now with Covid-19. I did lose my current job and current summer job will likely be cancelled. I have been working on many initiatives as a Girl Guide leader and all of those got cancelled. I have long term goals I am working on and I don't know yet how Covid-19 will affect them. But what got to me this morning was applying for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit.
Back in July I left my job as a Sales Manager and Purchasing Manager and did not qualify for EI at that time. So when I applied in March they reactivated my previous claim. Then came the uncertainty. Would I get approved this time. Why does it matter what happened in July. I lost by job because of Covid-19. They said it would be easy and everyone would get covered... I tried applying on line on Thursday but I already had an EI claim. I tried to call EI to find out what to do.... That's what got to me in the end. Trying and trying to call and not being able to get through. The uncertainty of the moment. I wanted to believe that everything would work out but every time I called and the system hung up on me I lost a little bit of hope and get sucked in to a place of fear. What if I don't quality? Why me? Why can't I get covered? Why did I screw up and leave my job in July?
I though I had come to terms with my last job and had dealt with the my feelings from that time but here I was being punished for putting my health and well-being first back in July. I should have known better and just stayed in that job suffering. I was in full pity party mode. Beating myself up for decisions made months ago. Decisions which were 100% right for me at the time. I was also frustrated and angry that I could not reach someone. If I could just talk to someone I am sure I could get it sorted out.
In the end I did two things that I find hard to do. First, I accepted my Mom's help. She said she would keep trying to call EI for me. As every time I called and didn't get through it was adding to the pit in my stomach and while trying to call I couldn't do anything else. Saying yes to her offer of help was hard but it was so the right thing to do. Second, I grabbed a pillow and yelled into it and let out all the frustration I was feeling. As I ragged into the pillow the fear I was feeling was given a voice and had a release and I started to feel the regret and loss that was underneath my frustration.
The regret: did I make the wrong choices in my life, like quitting my job in the summer? Did I cause this current problem I am in? Am I do blame? Once the regret I was feeling came to the surface I could deal with it. That doesn't mean it's 100% resolved but I can now address these feelings and remind myself that I did make the best decsision I could in July and that I am not the cause of the problem I am in. I did nothing wrong and whether or not I get the CERB or normal EI or whatever is not a reflection of who I am. Or what I did right or wrong. FYI, I did get the CERB after getting through to EI and got the phone number to apply over the phone for the CERB.
The loss: This weekend (Easter) I was suppose to be taking a group of Girl Guides on a canoe trip to Main Lake provincial park on Quadra Island. This is all part of a plan to lead a Girl Guide trip to Bowron Lakes in 2021 as I need at least 10 nights caneoing with girls. This was a number of the nights I needed. The rest of the nights would have been aquired with my summer job as an out trip leader at Camp Sasamat, which I fear will not happend now. Underneather my anxiety and faustration was this loss of current and future plans. I have been working on this Bowron Lakes goal for a year. Lossing out on these opportunities is a loss for me. And I need to grief this.
Right now with everything going on and people dying and other people putting their health at risk to be on the front lines it can seem selfish to dwell on interuptions to our life like birthday parties, graduations, wedding, aniverseries, canoe trips.... whatever. But these events, plans, goals and dreams mean something to us and the feeling are there under the surface whether we choose to acknowledge them or not. If they are there anyways it is better to take a moment and acknowledge them grieve your losses, whatever they maybe. You will feel better and have more capacity to deal with everything coming at you now and in the future.
I use to have a serious problem falling asleep at night. My mind would not shut off. I would think about things that had happened and how I should have handled them better and I would think about things that are going to happens and what I need to do to handle them. I would be up to 3 am trying to sleep but unable to.
I was ruminating! Meaning I was chewing my thoughts over and over like a cow does when eating. For the most part I don't do this anymore. But I read this article which talked about it so clearly that I wanted to share it. What really stood out for me was when the author says thinking about past events is linked to depression and thinking about future events is linked to anxiety. This made total sense but I never thought about my thoughts that way.
One of the reasons we ruminate is because of the ego voice in our head. The voice telling that we should have been better, smart, more capable and that some how my reviewing our past 'failings' or planning ahead endlessly we will be able to be 'perfect' and deal whatever it is we are dwelling on from the past or dreading in the future will be avoided. But it doesn't work that way. Overthinking and critizing ourselves never solved anything.
For me I was able to quite these thoughts when I resolved the root cause of my anxiety which was a belief that I wan't good enough. My mind is still over active at night. Planning all the things I want to do. But I am not ruminating. And for the most part if I give my mind soemthing else to think about then I can fall asleep. I end up listenning to audiobooks over and over again as it gives my brain something to focus on but because I know the story as I have listened to it at least once before prior to listening to it a bedtime I am not exicted about the story and therefore my brain can focus on it and at the same time not engage. This works for me and I am usually asleep within 20 minutes. This beats being up to 3 am!
Learning to pause and then taking a step back when we are upset is one of the most valuable resources we have. I recently read an article called How to avoid sending a snarky email and its basically boiled down to pause.
Pausing applies to both delayed communications (emails) and in-person communications. When emotions are close to the surface we are quick to act. This is what happens with road rage. Someone gets cut off in traffic and instead of pausing and taking a breath they react. They get out of the car and go bang on the other person's window. This might seem extreme but it happens.
A snarky email sent off in hast or a road rage incident are just examples of when a pause might help us to avoid more problems. The pause allows us to check out our emotions and what we are feeling and what we are making it mean.
Broadly speaking we get upset when we feel threatened and our reaction is a way to defend and protect ourselves. But when we are reactive and come at the situation from a defensive position we are effectively shutting down communication. If you respond with anger and upset chances are the other person will too. If instead we pause and then get curious and ask questions chances are we will have a different outcome.
There is no guarantee of a positive outcome. Maybe the other person hasn't learned to pause and will continue to escalate the situation. But by employing the pause and then getting curious and asking questions there is a better chance of positive outcome and there is less chance of you finding yourself in situation where you are dealing with the unintended consequence of a hasty reaction.
I love this article by Elizabeth Su titled Your stress is not a trophy. The very first thing she touches on is family rules. Every family has it's own set of rules and reasons for doing things. What we grow up with we tend to think of as normal. Example: My Mom took care of all of the financials, paying bills, depositing income, debt management, providing allowances to herself and my Dad. I thought this was normal and how all families operated until I go older.
Ms. Su mentions how in her family being stressed was a sign that you are working hard and working at your potential. This is a great example of a family rule. Family rules are important and can serve an important purpose. I know in my family there were very legitimate and important reasons why multiple generations of woman on both sides controlled the finances. And I am sure there are important reasons why Ms. Su's family valued being stressed. However when your goal is personal self development you need to look at family rules and ask yourself if they are still working for your betterment or is the rule actually harming you?
Take stress. There can be a sense of pride in being stressed. I use to feel like Wonder Woman when I running nonstop and taking care of everything and being a superstar. But I was stressed out and my health was suffering. However as exhausted and drained as I eventually got I can still remember the highs I received for accomplishing some work project. That stress high can be addictive. Also being stressed is away to avoid feelings which at the time was another positive, or so I thought.
If you find yourself stressed out ask yourself what is driving the stress? Is it a family rule or are you avoiding some feelings. Maybe you think being stressed is the only option. If that is the case I would challenge you to dig a little deeper. Long term chronic stress is not sustainable and leads to serious health problems. So if you think chronic stress is unavoidable then it is time to re-think life and your priorities. Life doesn't have to be stress for all the the time.
I believe work should be a safe and encouraging place. As adults we spend the majority of our time in the workplace and I feel workplaces should be a source of good in the world by creating a safe place for personal development and actually encourage personal development as this leads to better companies, higher profits, better products, healthier employees and so on. However that often isn't the case and Michael Schneider sums this up in his new opinion piece in Inc.com titled Insecurity Keeps Most Employees Quiet During Team Meetings.
Mr. Schneider talks about how the lack of lack psychological safety, group think, and a push for conformity keeps people quite during meetings. His best line is people "will internalize conflicting ideas to ensure they don't ruffle any feathers or stand out." Standing out at work isn't safe! Right? And yet innovation, performance, success only happens when we strive and stand out.Companies are preventing their own success when they are not actively creating cultures that are free of group think.
To create and sustain a culture shift requires everyone in management from the highest level down to be on board.
It starts with mangers realizing that leadership/management isn't about having people follow your ideas. It about asking questions and getting everyone involved and facilitating their involvement.
No one what's to be a micro manger. Right? Its exhausting to have to "think" for everyone on your team and tell them all what to do all the time. Not only is it exhausting for the manger its also very stressful on the subordinate. Its just an overall toxic relationship and situation. When mangers learn that their job is to create an environment where others can step up and thrive things will improve for everyone. Including customers!
Mr. Schneider's has some good suggestions if you are interested in this type of stuff. The one thing I will add is that whenever we are dealing with groups which are 3 or more people keep the following terms in mind: Forming, Norming, Storming and Preforming.
Forming is when a group comes together and everytime someone leaves or someone joins a group it is a new group and goes back to the forming stage.
Norming is when a group gets into a rhythm and habits of how it operates. Most groups reach this stage and stay here. Its an OK place to be.
Storming is critical. This is when a group learns that it can handle upset and conflict and disagreement and yet still function together. This is where a group can talk about behaviour of team members. Where members can disagree with management. When a group can fight but then hug it out you have something special. Its like a broken bone. I have heard that if you break a bone when it mends it is stronger. Storming is like that. However many people fear conflict. Especially mangers who might see conflict as an indication they are a bad manger they will work to suppress and prevent any storming. But storming is critical to success. It's impossible to agree with someone all the time. Its also impossible to always suppress your upset with someone. In healthy relationships we can tell people when we are upset. They listen and respond and we work it out and move on. That's storming. If a manager suppresses storming then issues never get resolved.
Performing is what every company wants for every team! And we get to performing by moving through storming. When you have team members that are free to counter each other. Share new ideas. Challenge management. Go back to the drawing board. Question each other. Share freely with no fear of reprisal then the magic starts to happen.
The next time you are leading a meeting and no one is saying anything ask yourself what you can be doing to help make this environment safer for everyone.
I recently read an article titled Inside Russia’s Shady Seduction Schools, Where Desperate Women Learn How to Lure Rich Men which is interesting on many levels. But what I found partially interesting was the message Russian women are raised with which that their happiness is dependent on finding a husband and having a family. Its the message that happiness comes from obtaining something external. When reading this article is easy to see this message and see the predictable outcome. Spoiler alert... many of these women did not find happiness after securing a husband.
Its not about being married or not married. Its not about having kids or not having its. Its this idea that happiness is something we can obtain from outside ourselves. When I get that job promotion I will be happy. When I can afford my dream home I will be happy. When I can buy my dream car I will be happy. When I can take my dream vacation I will be happy. When my kids graduate from university I will be happy. When I have grand-kids I will be happy. I could on and on with all the external things people look for happiness in.
The only way to find happiness is by looking inwards. No one can be happy all the time. We are suppose to experience all emotions. And like Riley learned in Inside Out sometimes we can even feel two emotions at the same time. In my own life my nieces recently moved to New Brunswick. I am sad and I am miss them but I am also happy for my sister and her family as they are much happier living in a small and affordable community.
If you are looking for happiness externally it will be hard to find and if you find it that happiness will be short lived. Finding happiness inside is like finding a true renewal resource. Once you find it will always be there. It may get low but you can always refill your internal well of happiness.
To find inner happiness you need to figure out what is blocking. What fears, anxieties, mistaken beliefs are preventing you from experiencing happiness? You can also ask yourself how do you view the world. If the world is an unsafe and dangerous place it is going to be hard to find happiness. If you view the world as friendly it will be easier to find happiness.
The other week on a Friday night I got a small mason jar stuck in the cup holder of my couch. I was tried and I just wanted to drink a glass of wine and watch a show. I ended up having to take my couch apart (each seat section connects to each other). I had to turn the centre console upside down. All the junk I store in the centre hatch fell out. It was a mess. It was a lot of work. I could have been angry and upset and frustrated and mad (mainly at myself for getting the jar stuck). Instead I choose to look at the positive. I got the junk sorted and cleaned up which never would have happened otherwise and I got a nice workout in lifting the furniture. Because I view the world as friendly world it is easier to roll with the unexpected challenges in life.
The question is what comes first happiness on the inside and therefore it is easier to belief in a friendly universe. Or the belief in a friendly universe that then leads to finding inner happiness. The truth is its a bit of both. When we take a small step towards either it helps us to find the other.
If you aren't sure what is getting in your way of finding happiness then a first step you can take is asking for help. Its hard to figure out this stuff on our own.
I recently read an article on www.theladder.com called Here’s why you’re never too old to make new friends by Caroline Zielinski and posted on October 25, 2019.
In this article Ms. Zielinski talks about the importance of friendships and how loneliness is a more serious health risk than smoking.
Growing up I struggled to make friends. I still do. It doesn't come naturally to me. I'm scared of the rejection. Which is something the author talks about in the article. I became a counselor after seeking help and support for my own issues. Prior to counselling the idea of putting myself out there was too big of a risk. It was safer to just stay home, alone and lonely then to risk the rejection. Even know as a counselor with a well developed sense of self and no longer living in a constant state of fear and anxiety over being rejected I am still hesitant to make the overture. To reach out and suggest to a potential new friend that we hang out. If she says no what does that mean about me.
The truth it doesn't mean anything about me unless I make it mean something. If she says no, I could make that mean there is something wrong with me, Or I could make that mean she isn't interest or available or maybe she is too scared, Who knows. I don't know what her no means.
Luckily I am choosing to over come my fears. Last week I reached out to twice to a new friend and both times she said yes and the result was I got out of the house and got to enjoy her company, have some great conversations and do something new.
If you are struggling to make new friends it might be time to ask yourself if you are scared of rejection and if you are making that rejection mean something about you then it's time to take a look at the belief and explore where it is coming from.
I love information. I love to read articles and to learn more. On this blog I will be sharing articles I find insightful and helpful with regards to stress, anxiety, loneliness and other related feelings. Occasionally I might even right an article myself. I hope you find these posts helpful.