vulnerability

Withhold

Hi everyone,

I have a withhold that I need to address. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a withhold is something that you need to give voice to that happened in the past, which you did not properly address at the time. It is a withhold because it has been affecting you and your life, and you eventually found out that you needed to speak up about it for your own sanity and well-being.

As a disclaimer, my goal here is not to rehash the past, or to blame anyone, but rather to share my feelings authentically and vulnerably about what occurred, with the hope that with this understanding of how it affected me and my feelings, then it would not be repeated again in the future.

The scene is May 2015, and I have just graduated with my master’s degree in geology (geothermal energy) from University of North Dakota. I have packed up all my belongings and I am now driving across the country from North Dakota to Nevada.

As I’m sitting in my car, I’m ruminating about how unsupported I feel from my entire network. I feel completely isolated and alone, not to mention completely unsupported.

For those of you unfamiliar with my story, I had not wanted to get my master’s degree in science; rather, I had wanted to get my master’s degree in music performance. However, after my junior recital at Penn State, my viola teacher had lost confidence in me and my playing. He asked me what I wanted to do after PSU, and I had said that I had wanted to go on and get my master’s degree in music performance and then go on to play music in pit orchestras on Broadway. This was my dream, I had told him, and I was very excited about it.

My teacher promptly told me to give up on my dream, because it sucked. He said that many people embarked on that kind of career with high hopes, but then quickly got tired of the long hours and low pay, and then could not afford to take time off to look for a different job. He didn’t want to see me “backed into a corner with my career,” so he told me to give up on music and become a geologist instead.

Ironically, with this very interaction, I already felt “backed into a corner with my career.” Without the support of my instructor, I didn’t feel either willing or able to pursue my career in music. So even though I was crushed, demoralized, and devastated, I followed his advice, moved to North Dakota, and got my master’s degree in geology.

Even though I liked geology and I liked my professors and colleagues at UND, I knew that this was not the right decision for me and that this was not what I wanted to do with my life. After the excitement of being in a new place with a new plan wore off, I began to really loathe my time in North Dakota. I didn’t feel like I belonged there in terms of the culture and values, and I didn’t feel authentic because I wasn’t following my heart and being creative.

After the incident at PSU, I all but gave up playing my instruments. I played viola in the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra, but this was only because my dad had encouraged me to join. In general, I felt very turned off to playing music and instruments and I didn’t want to do it anymore. Writing became my primary creative outlet, and my first summer in ND I wrote my first novel in its entirety.

After writing my novel, I often fantasized about quitting my degree program, moving home to Boston, working at Starbucks, and becoming a writer. However, whenever I shared these dreams and desires with others, I was always brutally rebuffed and unsupported. Without naming names, there were people that I called, so upset that I was crying, and I told them how much I hated my life, how much I hated the direction my life was taking, and how much I wanted to go home, start fresh, and be creative again. I even posted about my goals on Facebook, but people on there were very unsupportive of me and my plan. They told me I had to stay there in ND– even though I was completely miserable– finish my degree program, and “get my piece of paper.”

However, I knew that this would never be the end of it, and I was right. Because I felt again like I was backed into a corner and that I had to take everyone’s advice, I did stay in ND, I did finish my degree program, and I did get my piece of paper. But afterward, all I heard from those same people was that now I had to stay in ND and get a “high-paying geology job” and “use my degree” so that I could be responsible, take care of myself, and pay my bills.

I get it, I really do. As I now know from my adult experience as well as my research on the subject, the scarcity mindset is primarily developed from lack of financial abundance and resources. These people who were giving me this advice had learned themselves that they could not be creative, that they could not have fun, and that they had to be boring and logical to get a steady, high-paying job to pay their bills and be responsible adults. Similar to my viola teacher from PSU, these people had thought they were giving me kindly advice and words of wisdom to help me live a better life, but in fact, they were just telling me their own story of misfortune, not mine.

Going back to the people who did not support my decision to quit my degree program in ND, I understand that too. I understand that these people thought they were being loving, supportive, and helpful, by pushing me to finish what I had started and helping me be accountable to my end-goal of getting my master’s degree in science.

However, both of the above events were very detrimental to my health and well-being. This was a really hard time in my life, and I don’t feel that I received proper love, encouragement, or support from the people in my network. Also, I feel disappointed that most people didn’t even want to hear about my hard time, instead just wanting to be surface level friends. I have always done my best to be a “hard times friend,” so I felt hurt and let down when that favor was not returned.

Furthermore, I felt that the people who encouraged me to stay in ND afterward to pursue a high-paying geology job only cared about finances and financial well-being, at the expense of mentality, emotions, and physical well-being. I felt that they did not really understand me, my needs, my wants, or my desires, because they were just pushing me to continue on a path that I hated, which was not right for me, and which was making me have an autoimmune illness (lupus).

As a result, I felt lonely and like I didn’t have anyone to turn to during hard times that really cared about me and my well being. It caused me to withdraw from my network in isolation, because I didn’t trust others anymore. I began to lose faith in humanity and started grinding my teeth at night.

I felt that the people giving me this advice clearly didn’t know what was best for me, but that they were pushing their advice on me anyway and telling me that their way was valid and that my way was invalid. I felt that they were just saying that in order to be considered a valid adult, I had to be boring and logical and get a steady, high-paying job that I hated, just to pay my bills, just so that I would have a secure financial future, at the expense of my happiness and joy. I felt that they were telling me that it was valid to be logical and scientific, but invalid to be emotional and creative. I felt like my voice didn’t matter, my decisions and opinions were not good enough, and that I needed to change myself and my entire way of being to fit in with everyone and gain everyone’s approval.

However, now I know that this was wrong. There are many people who have become very wealthy and very successful being creative and following their passions. There are also many wealthy people who are silly and fun and who are also very successful in their businesses. And I will be one of them.

Not to mention, I deserve a network of people who support me in my decisions, regardless of the path that I choose to take and regardless of what I choose to do with my life and my time. The right people support my decisions to be creative and pursue a life filled with music, writing, fun, and laughter. I believe that I can have it all, and I deserve relationships with people who also believe that I can have it all.

By the way, I eventually did reconcile myself with the life that I wanted. I started by playing the piano again when I lived in Nevada, and after I moved back home to Boston I joined several orchestras and got back into playing my viola. Even though it was a lot of work to overcome my toxic music school experience, it was worth it because I now very much enjoy playing my viola again and I even very much enjoy performing for other people.

Also, I now work at Starbucks and I’m pursuing being a writer. Go me ūüôā

Anyway, that was my withhold. Thank you for listening to me and for giving me the opportunity to share myself authentically and vulnerably. I am excited for my future of business, creativity, fun, passion, and wealth, and I will be successful in my life just by being my true and authentic self. I hope that you will decide to honor me, respect me, and support me in all of my future endeavors, regardless of what they may be.

 

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Triggers

Frustrated, I set down my pen and notebook. I rubbed my temples in agitation, unsure that I would ever find a suitable solution to my problem. I had just been thinking critically for the past three hours about my “breakup” with my former mentor, but I had yet to make any headway.

In my last post, I had discussed how my relationship with my former mentor had ended. I had divulged how I had experienced severe relational anxiety, triggering, and backsliding in this relationship, which had only served to make everything worse. Today, I will articulate those triggers in more detail. I will talk about what causes us to be “triggered,” what causes us to regress or backslide, how we can take control of it, and how we can use what we learn from it to prevent similar situations from happening again in the future (or from ruining perfectly good relationships).

One thing I want to start off by mentioning is that backsliding is completely normal and natural – it can happen to anyone, regardless of what healing method is used. Backsliding is neither something to feel scared of, nor ashamed about. It’s neither something to run away from, nor something to hide from. Whenever you change something about yourself, you will naturally spend a long period of time adjusting to your new mindset, action, or behavior. In this adjustment period, there’s a high likelihood that something could trigger you, which would cause you to temporarily backslide as you fully work through all of your issues.

Relationships, in particular, are a huge landmine for backsliding. Many of our hurts, hangups, and battle scars originate from the way we were treated in our previous relationships. Because of this, it is very easy to judge new relationships based on old experiences. My relationship with my mentor was no exception.

Though none of us are completely exempt from the possibility of backsliding, there are several steps we can take to minimize the damage when it does happen.

Step #1: Do some good, old-fashioned¬†critical thinking. Define what the problem is in your current relationship and how it makes you feel. Practice emotional granulation to have a clearer understanding of how you feel. (For example, instead of just saying that you feel “bad,” say that you feel “humiliated” or “unloved” or “disrespected.”

Pro tip: stay away from settling on the word “angry.” Anger is a secondary emotion, meaning that it is usually a cover-up for a deeper set of emotions that requires extra strength and vulnerability to dive into and process. Anger can be a good starting point, but is not a good finishing point.)

Step #2: Define the cause of your problem – both in your current circumstances, as well as from your past. What does your current situation remind you of from your past? When was the last time you felt your current set of feelings? When was the first time you felt your current set of feelings? Once you can clearly pinpoint the source/origin of your triggers, then you will fully understand why you are so upset in your current situation.

Step #3: Practice true empathy. Look at the situation from the other person’s point of view. Look through the other person’s lens and see if that changes your feelings in any way. In any event, it will help you to disperse anger and facilitate forgiveness.

Step #4: Define your goals and standards. Even if you see the situation through the other person’s lens and are able to forgive him or her, that does not necessarily mean that the relationship should continue or that you should reconcile. Come up with standards for the relationship that are realistic and that make you feel safe, secure, and protected. Hone in on the things that you yourself need to work on and improve to fix the situation. Once you are aware of your own triggers and patterns, this will help prevent backsliding in the future.

Step #5: Come up with the best possible solution that works for both people. In a loving, committed, and long-term relationship, both people should want to make an effort to do things that make their partner happy. Furthermore, both people should be willing to put in the effort to work on and improve the relationship.

When communicating your feelings to your partner, simply state “I feel…..” and “I need…” Even though you can’t¬†make your partner change or do something different, it doesn’t hurt to ask. If the answer is a hard no and the other person makes no effort to improve the situation over a long period of time, then you may need to re-evaluate your goals and standards and see if this is the right relationship for you.

In my case, I needed to take a break from my relationship to truly understand what was going on. Once I could think with a clear head about the situation, I realized that there were really four issues at play that were causing me to have anxiety about my relationship:

  1. Leaving my mentorship organization
  2. Submission
  3. Codependency
  4. Caring more

First, I was unhappy with the organization itself. As a Hindu Liberal, I felt out of place in a Christian Conservative organization. I felt like I couldn’t be myself there, or that the person I am was not accepted there. In addition, I didn’t think that the business model was the best or most effective way for me to reach my goals. I just felt very unfulfilled doing the work, and could not see myself doing it for the rest of my life. At the same time, I was very worried that if I left the organization, I would lose my relationship with my mentor.

Second, I was unhappy with the dynamic of my relationship with my mentor. As is typical of many mentor/mentee relationships, I was expected to “submit” to my mentor as a sign of respect for his teaching and coaching. Any time I asked him for advice, I was expected to follow it. If I didn’t follow it, then it was implied that he would spend less time investing into me and would instead focus on helping the people who always followed his advice.

Luckily, my mentor and I did see eye-to-eye on many things, so more often than not it was a nonissue. But for the times that we did disagree, I was tired of having to argue my point to no end, with my opinion being completely disregarded, rejected, and invalidated every time. I was tired of being told that I “just didn’t understand his viewpoint, and I would change my mind when I did.” I felt like he was downplaying my insight and intelligence when he said those things to me. There were many things that I did understand and just didn’t agree with, but this was not valued or taken seriously. On the whole, I just felt very disrespected and like I was not being treated as an equal.

Third, I realized that my contribution to this problem was that I was struggling with issues of codependency. Because I had generally been deprived of emotional support for the majority of my life, I had started to rely on my mentor to fill this need. Once I discovered this, I knew that codependency was largely not okay with me. Instead, I set out to fill my own needs. After a few months of regular blogging, journaling, and affirmations, I now feel like I’m more independent and that I don’t need anyone else to make me happy. I have myself covered.

Perhaps the most surprising insight of all from all of this was that after I solved my issue of codependency, I realized that even though I didn’t¬†need my mentor to be there for me emotionally, I still truly¬†wanted him to be there for me. Whenever I had a breakthrough on my healing journey, my first thought was that I just really wanted to share it with him. Not only that, but I found myself really missing his personality, his energy, and his spirit.

While I still don’t have the answer that I’m looking for, I’m hoping that this situation will resolve itself over time. For the time being, I feel content with the fact that I have done everything I could to understand, rectify, and fix the situation on my end. The rest is in God’s hands.

The takeaway here is that lasting, healthy change takes time, and making mistakes is human. There is no reason to feel bad or to beat yourself up about backsliding. What’s important is not that you get everything perfectly right on the first try, but rather that you keep trying no matter what. If you address your triggers properly and correctly, they are great indicators of personal feedback and show us where we should continue to work on and improve ourselves for the future.

 

I Deserve Better

In the past couple of days, I have made great strides in overcoming my “breakup.” I have to say “breakup,” with quotation marks, because this was not a romantic relationship. Rather, I’m referring to my relationship with my former mentor. Even though there was no romantic interest or romance involved, I found the end to this relationship to be even more devastating than the end to any of my previous romantic relationships. Here’s why.

Before, I had talked about how I felt like I didn’t fit into the culture of my old organization, nor did I feel like the business model was right for me. All of this was true. However, even though I felt that way, I couldn’t bring myself to leave the organization because of my mentor.

For the majority of my life, I had prayed to meet someone who would want to listen to me talk about my feelings, thoughts, and ideas all the time. I prayed for someone who would not only eagerly listen to me, but who would then go on to support me, comfort me, and offer me sage advice that I could then use to improve my life.

My mentor was that person for me.

Not only that, but I truly enjoyed his company. We both shared a love of music, writing, and creativity. We both shared the same sense of humor and jokes. We both cared about overcoming, healing, and making a difference in our own lives so that we could go out there and make a difference in the lives of others. We both wanted to do something great with our lives and achieve lasting greatness, legacy, and impact.

But mainly, I enjoyed his spirit. I have never met anyone who was more giving, selfless, and kind. I have never met anyone who was more gentle, caring, and understanding. I have never met anyone whose presence was so calming, soothing, and peaceful. And I have certainly never met anyone with so many great relationships across the board (spouse, children, family, friends, mentors, mentees).

Yet I didn’t want to stay in the organization, and I knew it. But I also knew that if I left, that would change everything about the relationship. Because I was dealing with re-establishing myself in the music scene in MA, growing my music studio and my monthly income, as well as becoming aware of deep trauma that had occurred in my early childhood, at the time I was not prepared to lose the one source of stability that I had in my life.

I had already lost the other source of stability I had in my life – his wife. To be fair, I had tried very hard to become great friends with her. One of my strengths is that I am very skilled at building new relationships with others, but she was always resistant and unreceptive to building a good relationship with me. She didn’t like my method of building relationships, but when I asked her for feedback, she was unable to provide me with a different way. She always discouraged me to share myself with her, didn’t want to share herself back with me, and didn’t want to help me through any of my struggles. Eventually, she told me that she just didn’t want to communicate with me until I had completely resolved my struggles. So she turned out to be a Fair Weather Friend who had abandoned me in my time of need, not a Hard Times Friend who stuck it out, and therefore I lost the motivation to work on our relationship.

Anyway, for many months I struggled through all of the multifarious issues that I faced at the time. I had a lot on my plate, and I was unable to take on any more. I needed to remove something, stat. Yet due to the magnitude and scope of everything I was dealing with, my difficulty managing negative emotions in conflicts, and my propensity towards an aggressive, rather than assertive communication style, much of my anger and overwhelmed feelings were projected onto my mentor. Not only that, but I was constantly being triggered back into scarcity mindset because I feared that leaving the organization meant losing the relationship; also, I was triggered because the submissive style of the mentor/mentee relationship reminded me of the toxic and abusive relationships from my past.

Yet despite my anger, attacks, and demands, most of which I was unaware of doing (in scarcity mindset, that’s a normal way of talking when you’re upset), he did not tell me that I was hurting him and/or draining him of energy every time I was triggered and slipped back into scarcity mindset. Instead, what happened was that I kept calling meetings that were designed to discuss something that would remove an item from my emotional plate and free up my capacity, for example my thoughts about whether or not to leave the organization. Then, he would derail the meeting to try to teach me about handling conflict correctly in relationships, or tell me that it was my responsibility to make a decision to abruptly change my mindset from scarcity back into abundance (It’s not possible to make a decision like that in scarcity – that’s an abundance trait. Changing the mindset back from scarcity to abundance takes a LOT of effort and work). I would become annoyed that my meeting was being derailed and my time wasted, because with his hectic schedule, meetings don’t grow on trees. Then I would have to wait another week or two for another meeting, where the same thing would happen, so I was getting very frustrated and annoyed that no progress was being made over months. This only served to worsen my anxiety about the relationship.

Eventually, I figured out that he kept derailing the meetings because I was hurting him. Once I asked him if this was true, then he started being more forthcoming about how he felt. Yet, as part of the mentor/mentee relationship setup, mentors are discouraged from sharing their emotions and hurt feelings with their mentees. Yet, I would have responded QUITE differently to him if he had just told me the truth. The last thing I wanted was to hurt the person I cared about most, so I would have done anything to make amends and fix it.

After awhile, he got tired of our unproductive meetings, as well. But instead of having an honest conversation with me about it and working with me to fix the problem, he just avoided scheduling any more meetings with me and did not explain to me what was going on. Again, this only served to worsen my anxiety.

Around this time, I had made a decision to leave the organization. I was working on extricating myself from the different forums, events, etc. and had scheduled my membership cancellations. I was starting to research alternative methods of achieving my business goals.

At this point, I felt that the relationship with my mentor was in serious jeopardy, but he blew off every single request I made for a meeting. Not only that, but he responded to my messages way less frequently, as well as reneged on his promise to help me with my anxiety and emotional struggles. He started classifying my mindset every time I spoke to him and put me into an “abundance” bucket vs “scarcity” bucket; from there, he would refuse to take me seriously whenever I was in scarcity. He started saying, just like his wife had, that it wasn’t his role to help me with transitioning my scarcity mindset back into abundance mindset and that I needed to go to therapy before we could have a good relationship. Yet whenever I called him out that he was also abandoning me in my time of emotional need, just like his wife had, then he would get defensive and say that I was being “unfair,” and that that was not what was happening.

For awhile, we were trying to repurpose our relationship from mentor/mentee into friend/friend. However, we were advised from multiple people who had tried to help us that it would never work. I wanted friendship, equality, and emotional support, and he wanted to push me hard to overcome my past and become successful to share my story onstage. Even though I had told him that I was leaving the organization and had no plans to return, he thought I just “didn’t understand” his perspective and that I would “change my mind” later on. Yet I did understand, and he didn’t accept or acknowledge that.

Finally, a few weeks ago, he stopped responding to my messages completely. Like his wife, he had made the decision to become a Fair Weather Friend. Unlike his wife, he had not made his position clear. For someone who had always told me that my communication was not very good, his was quite lacking as well. At least I made an effort to clearly state what I needed and where I was at with the relationship, which he did not.

For weeks (months), I have been mourning what I knew was the inevitable loss of this relationship. I have been eating chocolate, buying the huge cookies at Barnes and Noble, watching romantic comedies, and singing/playing breakup songs. But yesterday something dawned on me that would completely change my focus:

I deserve better.

That’s right! I deserve better. Even though my former mentor is a wonderful person who did so much to help me, and who wanted so badly to see me succeed, I deserve to be treated with love and respect ALL of the time, not just some of the time.

This is what I deserve:

1. I deserve to be treated as an equal in a relationship.

I am not a fan of the mentor/mentee submissive type of relationship, and I never will be. I deserve equality. I deserve to be involved in making decisions about the relationship, not kept in the dark about decisions that he made by himself that affect me. Not only that, but my opinions and ideas should not be rejected merely because I lack the exact same 20 years of experience in the field. Everyone’s opinions and ideas deserve respect, because not everyone knows everything and people have different skill sets, talents, and perspectives that they bring to the table. Finally, my healing journey is my business and mine alone. I don’t have to take anyone’s suggestions that I go to therapy, because I have my own healing method that I prefer (and which works better for me than therapy).

2. I deserve to be loved and accepted for where I’m at.

It is inappropriate, not to mention unrealistic, to expect that you can just “hand someone over” to a therapist and immediately have a mindset problem “fixed.” Healing takes time, and therapy is not for everyone. With this attitude, he and his wife made me feel like there was something eternally wrong with me, that I was damaged goods, and that I was unworthy of associating with them. They made me feel like I had to “fix myself” before I would be worthy of their relationship.

Not only that, but they completely disregarded and did not recognize any of the growth or progress that I made in overcoming negative emotions and handling conflict. They kept telling me to change, work on, and improve those things, but then they didn’t even notice when I did.

3. I deserve to be respected for where I’m at.

Even if I slip back into scarcity mindset temporarily, I still deserve respect. People should not be classifying me into a “scarcity” vs “abundance” buckets and then deciding whether or not to take me, and the things I say, seriously.

4. I deserve Hard Times Friends, not Fair Weather Friends.

Part of friendship means helping people when they are not strong, not abandoning them until they are “fixed” or “healed.”

5. I deserve someone who wold prioritize an important phone call in their busy schedule when our relationship is in jeopardy.

Enough said.

6. I deserve someone who would take responsibility and ownership for the things that he did to contribute to the problem, instead of completely blaming the problem on me, my shortcomings, and my circumstances.

I tried many times to explain to him the things that he did that caused me anxiety, but he didn’t take me seriously and accused me of blaming him for my anxiety. The things that he did included, but were not limited to: sparse and inconsistent responses to my messages, taking a long time (or refusing) to set up meetings, derailing my meetings, not taking action to solve our relationship problems, not treating me like an equal, not respecting me while in scarcity mindset, and not being honest with me about his feelings.

I deserve a relationship where the other person is equally invested in fixing the problems. Someone who would understand and see his part of the problem, think of solutions, and work to compromise and correct the issue. Someone who would apologize for what he did wrong and then work to make amends with me.

7. I deserve someone who is able to be vulnerable enough to tell me that I’ve hurt him, or that I’ve drained him of energy, and tells me directly what he needs from me.

I’m not a mind reader. I can get pretty close to mind-reading when I talk to someone on the phone or in person, but it is damned near impossible via text or online. I constantly felt like he expected me to read his mind and understand what he was thinking and feeling, instead of doing the work himself, being vulnerable, and sharing his heart. Instead of just simply sharing his point of view, I always felt like I had to complete a full-on scavenger hunt through his messages for clues, and then spend hours piecing it all together into a point of view that I didn’t even know whether or not would be accurate. This was not something I even had the ability to do when I was in the depths of limited capacity and scarcity mindset.

 

So that’s it! I deserve better, and I am looking forward to finding better in the future.

 

Managing Negative Emotions: A Breakthrough and A Realization

Guys, today was a super important day in my life. Not only did I just have a HUGE breakthrough, but I also had a really important realization as well.

The Breakthrough
For many months now, I have been working on the way that I process and manage negative emotions. I have been trying to learn how to do it in a more effective manner. Due to my personality type (bossy controlling impatient domineering choleric, efficient, and leading), I have always had trouble maintaining mutual respect in disagreements. With my ability to be frank, direct, and to-the-point, I would immediately enter into attack mode in a disagreement and give the other person a piece of my mind whenever I felt hurt, unloved, disrespected, attacked, and/or criticized. Unfortunately, the anger and the emotional haze I felt would frequently result in very harsh feedback that would sound hurtful, unloving, disrespectful, attacking, and criticizing to the recipient. (Interestingly, I subconsciously made the other person feel as terrible as I felt in the conflict).

I always wondered why we were never taught in school how to manage negative emotions correctly. Along with “Money 101: The Skinny on Budgeting and Finances,” “How to Avoid Getting Scammed in Legal Contract Writing,” and “How to Actually Earn Money in this Sh*t Economy,” the courses titled “Loving People Through Conflict” and “Managing Negative Emotions Correctly” were noticeably absent from the curriculum. If these topics were actually taught to people in school, there would be a lot less A) alcoholics, B) drug addicts, C) people who eat their feelings, D) people who don’t eat their feelings, and E) people who don’t f*ck up all their relationships from needing to release their anger. Among other things.

Not only were we not taught how to manage negative emotions correctly in school, but it didn’t seem like anyone else knew how to do it either. Until I met my mentors in my former program, I didn’t know a single person who could actually manage their negative emotions correctly or who could love someone else through a conflict.

In my research on this subject, including some books and online courses, I have already learned some invaluable information about how to overcome these negative emotions.

Step #1: Release the emotion

For me, I have thought of several ways to do this that do not involve lashing out in anger at an actual person:

  • The best way is definitely¬†critical thinking, if you have time to do it. This process can take anywhere from 30 minute to 2 hours depending on the complexity of the emotions involved. More often than not, it’s just not feasible to exit a conversation for that long.
  • For smaller amounts of time, depending on if you can, you can do some strength training, power walking, yoga, etc. Again, this is not always feasible due to your location and weather, as well as timing.
  • Another location-dependent one for me is playing piano. This one really helps me (but, I need a piano handy).
  • If you can take a 5-15 minute breather from the conversation, what works best is to b*tch it out by yourself. Either speak into thin air or write it down, but let the person have it (although, they will not be there to receive it).
  • For on-the-spot treatment, I’ve found the best way is to carry squishy desk ornaments in my purse. It feels GREAT to dig my nails into them when I’m pissed off. If I’m at home, I then start using my Chinese stress balls to relax. This can be done mid-conversation if necessary. Then I take some deep breaths, work to calm my facial muscles, calm my throat, and try to have empathy.

Step #2: Understand the Emotion

  • Again,¬†critical thinking is by far the best. I would marry it if I could.
  • Have index cards handy that have your patterns laid out in front of you. Instead of becoming angry, demanding, and controlling next, what do you really want? What need are you trying to have met? How else can you meet it?

For me, when I become angry, demanding, and controlling, usually it’s because I feel unloved and I need emotional attention. I can meet that need myself by 1) talking to God and the Universe, or 2) writing in this blog (which do you think I picked today? lol).

  • Just think about it. Why are you so upset right now? What is this triggering? What does this remind you of from your past?

 

Today, I am very proud of myself for what I accomplished. I was having a conversation over text where I became upset. Because I was at home, I practiced piano and released my anger. As I was practicing, I started thinking my way through the emotion. I started asking myself, “Ok. WHY am I so upset right now? What is this reminding me of?”

And then I had my answer. I responded to the person in a very calm and respectful way. Then I filled my own love tank by writing in this blog ūüôā

My whole processing time for the negative emotions and the response was 30 minutes. Progress over perfection! This small victory only added on to my really important realization earlier in the day.

The Realization
Not only did I not know how to process and manage my negative emotions in the context of conflict situations, but also I would have the same problem when I would deal with very strong emotions by myself in dealing with anxiety and panic.

As mentioned above, my primary need to fill my love tank is emotional attention. What I would do in the past was just dump my emotional load on anybody and everybody who would listen, with no warning or no consideration for what they were doing. All I could think about was that I FELT horrible, and I just needed someone else to listen to me so that I would feel better.

Understandably, most people became so tired of this that they stopped talking to me and stopped offering to give me emotional support. I drew the conclusion that all people sucked, didn’t want to give emotional support, and didn’t value vulnerability and authenticity in relationships.

The issue with this was not that I wanted to share myself with others. It was not that I was being vulnerable and authentic. It was just that I was sharing myself with no consideration for others, therefore making others feel like I was using them for emotional attention.

I have since learned not to use people as an emotional dumping ground. Now, I see emotional sharing as a negative deposit in the relationship, because it is something that I want to gain from the relationship instead of something that I am giving to the relationship. The only way to have a good relationship is to give more than you receive back. I have begun investing more of myself in my relationships in general to really show people that I care about them. The emotional sharing conversation itself has to be built in a mutual manner to the point where the timing is right and the other person will be receptive to hearing about the emotional pain. This is the right way to go about emotional sharing and support.

Not only that, but I have realized that most people actually DO value vulnerability and authenticity in a relationship. In fact, most people PREFER their friends and family to be vulnerable and authentic. It’s just, the sharing has to be done in the right way for it to work.

I no longer have to stay silent on issues that bother me or hurt me so as not to offend or disrespect anybody. I no longer have to feel isolated and alone. I no longer have to pretend that I’m ok when I’m totally not. I am SO GLAD that I had this realization.