Too Much of a Good Thing
Updated: Feb 5, 2020
I wake up after a sleepless night. Hours spent ruminating, thoughts feelings whirling through my brain. I am sore and my eyes burn.
I am grouchy.
Too much, too much, my heart cries. My body can't keep up with my life. Between adjusting to a challenging new job, trying to organize a book launch, and parenting hormonal preteens, I am energetically tapped.
Emotions are energy, and I have been deluged by emotions arising from these mounting pressures and responsibilities. I have the dialectical behaviour skills to "manage" and "regulate" emotions, such as acknowledging, naming, and nonjudgmentally allowing emotions: I can shift my attention to other emotions, such as gratitude; I can be mindful and stay present in the moment to get a short break from the anxiety of the future; I can set boundaries to reduce responsibilities; I can practice self care and accumulate positive emotions; shit, I am one skillful Mofo.
And I'm friggin grouchy. All of these skills take time and energy, and there are not enough hours in the day to function and process the emotions. They accumulate, and I am full, fed up, tapped out, and grouchy.
I am even grouchy at myself. I'm sick of the complaining, whining voice in my head. This is what you always wanted, Whiner, you're living the freakin dream.
I have built the life I have always wanted, but anyone who thinks that once you have achieved your goals your life will be easy is sadly mistaken. You still struggle. It's the human condition.
So I take a deep breath, I connect to Wise Mind, and I ask myself, "So, Therapist Con, what do you suggest now?"
And Wise Mind replies: "whenever you don't know what to do, choose love."
Immediate and unbidden, tears well in my eyes. Compassion, compassion, compassion. Yes, you're tired, of course you are. You are doing your best, and even when it's good things happening, it is a lot to feel. You're just a human body, and it is painful to experience so much sometimes.
I recognize that grouchy is my fight response, my way of trying to protect myself from "more." I recognize the underlying beliefs that have created the grouchy, that in the past "tired" meant "weak and vulnerable", and "weak and vulnerable" meant something terrible would happen. This chain of thought is not logical, and tapping into Wise Mind allows me to separate my emotional fears from reality. It's okay to feel tired. It's okay to feel grouchy, it's the way my Emotion Mind is telling me I need to rest. That is all. That is all.
Pulling away from Emotion Mind, I recognize that the skills I am practicing ARE working, because I AM getting through. I am getting shit done, and doing it "good enough." While I'm working, writing, and parenting, I am experiencing excitement, gratitude, joy and satisfaction. I am resisting having a drink to escape the intensity of my emotions, which historically has been my go-to distress tolerance activity. Drinking is highly effective in the short term to help a person feel better, and my Dear Readers, do not underestimate the lure and call of the bottle. Maybe I can even recognize that not only am I getting through, I'm rocking this time of my life.
And now, I notice I am a little less grouchy.
So if you made it through this rambling blog, I hope it was a helpful example of how you can practice (practice!) dialectical behaviour therapy skills. Thanks, Marsha