So it’s the end of the month. The End of my January challenge to focus on the positive instead of always seeing the glass half empty.
The results are in, folks. And it’s a mixed bag.
In the beginning it was pretty easy. Writing in my journal, setting positive goals for each day, pausing in tight situations to reprogram my brain’s natural negative train of thought. But here’s the catch – that was at the beginning of January, when the minions and Spouse were all on vacation, the house was put together and life was generally low key and low stress. I was able to count to ten and put a positive spin on just about anything that came my way.
Then Spouse went back to work, the minions headed off to school and it all hit the fan. It probably didn’t help that my regular checkup with my doctor was postponed. Turns out that one of the meds I take to manage symptoms can cause mood swings. Great. What a time to try to think positively. Work amped things up a notch too – apparently taking most of December off causes people in the world of Big Commercial Real Estate to come back in January stressed, behind schedule and generally a bit cranky. It’s hard to put a positive spin on the day when I was interrupted by one of the guys to be told that the electric stapler was empty and could I please deal with it right now? Never mind that there were two hand staplers within easy reach. The electric one needed filling STAT!And that’s just one example. Try working in that environment nine hours a day – when every situation is that dire of an emergency. I bet even Pollyanna would have trouble with her Glad Game then.
Coming home after those days? What a great excuse to beat myself up for being mentally and physically tired. And the switch in meds was a real treat too – total exhaustion for three days followed by three days of feeling like I’d downed a six pack of Jolt cola by noon. Good times.
So, how did my positive attitude fare during all of this? Oh, she bloomed in rare form. She deflated into a passive-aggressive ball of positive negativity. I’m really proud of that.
What’s positive negativity? It’s a rare gift. Knowing that I was supposed to put a positive spin on things, I started saying and thinking things like these:
· I’m positive that he’s a just a mean, nasty person with no redeeming qualities.
· It’s a good thing that you’ve got me around, or this house would look like an episode of Hoarders.
· Wow, I’m glad I’m not her. If I were that arrogant and negative about everything, friendships would be impossible.
See what I mean? My brain tried to get around my self-imposed negative ban just like my ten year old. ‘What’s wrong, mom? You told me not to run in the house, so I’m turning cartwheels while punching my brother instead.’ And here I thought that over a decade of teaching made me grow up! Ha!!
The absolute low came the other day, when I got so incredibly positively negative (my attempt at seeing how many adverbs I can possibly string together) that I finally snapped and sent off an e-rant into the void. We’re talking a personal maturity nosedive. I’m really embarrassed and ashamed to admit it, but I’m being honest in my resolution plan here, so full disclosure is a must.
I snapped out a rant that was basically the equivalent of a kid saying, ‘Fine, maybe I should just shave my head and run away.’ Only it was more like, ‘Fine. Maybe I should just be mean to everyone, get really fat and never shower again. Maybe then things would go my way.’
Seriously. It was that bad. Not those exact words, but you get my drift. And the worst part?? Once said, I couldn’t just unsay them. Not like some email programs that let you ‘unsend’ a message. Nope. No way. This one’s out there to stay.
So what am I getting at? My positive spin on my anti-negative failure is this: I may have picked a goal that was a bit too lofty for the beginning of the year and my level of personal growth at this time. In education we talk about setting SMART goals for the kids: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based. Apparently my goal was not realistic or attainable. But I’ll still work on it – in smaller doses. After all, my brain can’t just go cold turkey after decades of programming, right?
Here’s my SMART February goal: I will do between forty five minutes and an hour’s worth of Zumba or P-90X three to four times a week.
I have Zumba for the Wii and all of the P-90X DVDs, so there is no excuse there. Done. I’ll update you on that one in a month.
Until then, my positively negative filter is set to maximum strength.
I am tired. So stinkin’ tired. I’m so tired that I’m going to drop my scruples and list everything that I did yesterday just to prove to myself that I’m justified in being tired. Because right now I just feel guilty about it and keep apologizing to my fam.
Let’s see. Yesterday. Hmm. Got the ‘rents off to the airport at 4 AM. Put myself and the minions together for work and school after a three day weekend. Mediated a minion smackdown. Threw a load of laundry into the washer. Spent the first 45 minutes of my commute just getting to the highway. Work. Did a speed-editing job on a rush new listing. Five major but quickie revisions on said listing. Troubleshooting on a marketing application – complete with bug report involving company IT. Sorted and scanned ten files for archiving. Troubleshot new user account logins with outside company – and turns out it was their server error. Project for sales manager.
Lunch. A cup of soup. Seriously. That was it. Quickie revision on rush new listing for head honcho. Financial revisions on old listing. Project involving market research for boss. All afternoon. Schooled by office guy on an issue. My mistake.
Drive home. Major traffic. Left work at 6 PM. 7:30 PM – finally close to home but had to pick up little minion from older minion’s scout meeting. Spent time with younger minion and got him off to bed just in time to get the older kid home and into bed. Died on the couch. Woke up this morning – repeat.
Now, I’m not listing all of this in an effort to self-promote. Hardly. I’m trying to make myself feel just a teeny bit justified in being the abso-freaking-lutely exhausted mess of a human being that I am this morning. Really. Because I feel horribly guilty and keep apologizing to my fam about it. Did I already say that? Sorry. Can’t remember. Memory si shot.
So in the midst of all this, I remembered a conversation with a colleague from a couple of weeks ago. It was a very Monty Python-esque chat – ‘Always look on the bright side of life,’ and all that. The subject of choice came up, as in, you have only yourself to blame if you don’t like your situation. Because ultimately your choices led you there. And the true road to acceptance, inner peace and healing only comes with realizing that you and only you are responsible for everything that happens to you (per the conversation).
Huh? Not sure where I chose to have my body develop a condition that leaves me fatigued and feeling like I have the flu some days. Guess I chose to take my doctor’s advice and go on medication for it – and that leads to other side effects. But it’s chronic, and not going away.
Or this random example: a person chooses to put on their left shoe first, as opposed to their right, which leads to slower tying and two minutes later out the door. After the resulting car accident that leaves them paralyzed – are they truly responsible for choosing one shoe over another? See what I mean? It’s a flawed argument. (Tangent – Can you tell I aced logic in college?) I mean, it’s an interesting Sliding Doors concept and all that, but where do you draw the line about being totally responsible for everything that happens to you?
And where does God fall into all of this? My choices aren’t truly my choices, are they? And what about predestination – a big can o’ worms there…
And I’d love to have that same chat after the individual in question walked a day in my shoes. Like yesterday. Granted, there are some bright sides: I have a job, I have a family, I get to commute 21 miles each way five days a week. But really. It’s so easy to preach about ‘finding the greatness in every moment of every day’ when you’ve got unlimited time to do whatever the heck you want with every moment of every day. Really.
I know that ‘the good is so good.’ Trouble is that apparently due to my choices I don’t have time, energy or mental stamina to find and appreciate it. But apparently I lack the acceptance of that, and therefore inner peace. Huh.
Don’t know about you, but I could really appreciate a nap right now.