The ABCs of reacting to stressors

Sunday, December 15, 2019

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Early morning read with my two-year-old. I love the cozy depictions of domestic tranquility in these lovely illustrations. Our version looks like this, but it is out of print:
Image result for The night before Christmas

Sunday is the most bittersweet of all days. While technically a free day, the pull of the real world is hanging there, putting his knobby little knuckled fingers around the edges of your world, pulling it towards them. Or maybe that is just an introvert's lamentation.

An old coworker, on Facebook, posted dozens of pictures of her daughter's birthday party, and while admiring her cute home, I found myself wondering if she'd just go ahead and adopt me now. Probably not. I resisted the urge to actually ask, because you know that is weird. Really though, the difference in lives people living just miles apart can have is astounding. Well. That's the great mystery isn't it? Why some people seem to have manna from the sky falling at their feet each day, others trudge exhaustedly to maintain a decent standard, and others just crawl along, exhausted and lost. The world is unfair and unequal, and somehow I just have to accept that. This isn't to knock other people's lives. This particular coworker must have amazing energy for the amount of work she appears to put into living, it's just... you know. We all have to hold onto the belief that our lives have a purpose. Our place has a purpose, whatever that might be.

I love waking up to a quiet house. I slept in today, until six a.m., then quietly awakened and did my normal things. Coffee, inspirational talk, meditating for a few, then starting breakfast. My typical weekday breakfast consists of an overeasy egg, a slice of whole wheat bread, and lots of black coffee. We are out of bread, so I made a sweet potato to go with the egg. I cannot digest eggs alone very well, so hopefully the sweet potato is starchy enough to help the egg go down well.I LOVE fried eggs, by the way. I am talking love-about an egg. I had two big, farm fresh eggs (my inlaws bring them from their neighbor a couple times a month), and even added some sweetened dessert creamer to one of my cups of coffee. It was nice, but black coffee is really my jam.

My inspirational talk today consisted of the speaker discussing the ABCs: Action, behavior, consequence. Something like that. It is very similar to the ABC of behavior we discuss in my day job. Essentially, something happens, we react in a certain way, and that mindset we take with us, can determine the consequences. For me, my struggle is interaction with others. I am always wary of being hurt, left out, stepped on. So when an action happens that sends off a warning light, my brain goes, Alert! Watch out! Protect yourself. Danger! The problem exists that when we are in self-protective mode, we aren't in loving mode. We aren't able to live out our best version of ourselves when we are waiting for Mr. Jones to stab us in the back. And that affects the outcome. Appearing paranoid makes one marginalized (I totally got this from an interaction between Andy and Dwight on the Office last night), and that doesn't lead to a great outcome. What to do? People can be mean. There really are backstabbers and people who have no issue hurting others. How do you protect yourself without going crazy?

And I think the answer is again, vulnerability. We don't have to share everything. We don't have to trust everyone. However, we have to be brave enough to show up with authenticity and kindness and also with the understanding that sometimes, we will get hurt. Operating with the assumption that we have the tools necessary to repair ourselves from potential hurt, we have to remain open to the world. We can't allow ourselves to be marginalized. It's no easy feat to accomplish. I work on this nearly every DAY of my working life. I am blindingly naive at times and have been spanked by it more than once. I also need attention and will happily take negative attention if that is all I can get. However, I also have some fantastic big girl panties and two strong hands to pull them up and keep going. We have to give others the benefit of the doubt, at least until they have made it clear they don't deserve it. And that is  hard, especially if, like me, you worry that your earnest sincerity is a wondrous source of amusement for others. However, I do feel, in spite of concerns and potential embarrassment, it is a necessary part of living one's fullest life.

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