20 September 2018

Even Keel


I don't know about you, but even though many things and people get to me on any given day, there seem to be times when everything and everyone just seems to be SoMuch, you get the feeling that even if you could punch people in the face, it would not be satisfying and they would be the same way, but talking about how you punched them in the face, and then you would feel even more angry/frustrated/stabby, and so what was the point of punching them anyway?  As far as I'm concerned, physical violence is never the answer.  But *if* it was socially acceptable, but didn't make you feel better, what have you accomplished?  Zippo. 

I actually do spend a lot of time in my brain, and much of it is spent distracting myself or convincing myself that I should just do my thing and ignore things that put me off balance.  This is much easier said (thought?) than done, and my success is most of the time questionable, and occasionally satisfying.  Being that just even this morning (hours, people, there have only been hours in this day so far!) I have been overcome and had to work on getting to an even keel, and that it is Three on Thursday, I thought I would share three things that I try to do that usually help and sometimes actually make a big difference.  The caveat being of course, that it all varies based on time, place, person, and situation.  But you knew that, right?

1.  Make your brain your safe place, where you can think of what you wish you could say, do, etc.  This allows me to "get it out" of my system without legal or societal consequences.  Example:  Yesterday in a meeting, a colleague said something to me Right There in the meeting, and because I was at work and need to keep my job regardless of how I may feel about it, I did not respond.  Instead, I went into my brain and really let her have it until I was sure she would no longer be able to get out of bed in the morning.  I am the only person who knew this happened, and it actually made me feel better.  And slightly amused, because clearly I need help.  The point I'm making here is that it worked and I was able to continue in my day and keep my job.  Everybody wins.

2.  Every night before I go to sleep, I do my List of Fives, and the Three Breaths:
          Five things that went well/were good about the day
          Five things that didn't go well/that I wished I had not done
          Five things I'll try do do better the next day; then, three deep breaths in, three deep breaths out.
**Note:  on a good day, there are more than five of the first, and not even five of the second.

3.  Go outside yourself and make someone else's day better.  Here's an example from a recent morning's walk to work:  I was crossing the street, and another person crossed in front of me suddenly, and I bumped into them.  At which point they said, "My dear, please be conscious of your surroundings.  We nearly collided and injured one another." (They didn't say that, but I'm cleaning it up for you.)  Now, in the first place, the other person cut in front of me, and in the second place, why can't you just say Excuse me, or Sorry, and move on?  At that point, I decided that when I got across the street, I was going to treat myself to cup of coffee.  So I got my coffee, paid for it, and was walking out the door just as another person was coming in who was carrying a bunch of stuff and had no available hands to open the door.  So I held the door for her, and then also backtracked to open and hold the inner door for her, because it was no big deal and took no real additional time.  She turned to me and said, "Thank you so much, it makes my day that you did such a nice thing."  And I didn't think it was that big of a deal frankly, but I told her she was welcome and to have a good day, and it made me feel good to think it helped her, and I forgot about the guy who cut in front of me.

So there you have it.  This is how I manage most of the time to keep myself on an even keel, which keeps me employed, out of prison, and out of the emergency room.  I'm not saying it always works perfectly, or that it will work for any of you.  But I do encourage you to cultivate little habits or practices that make your life and your attitude more positive overall.  Even if it seems like it's a tiny thing, or something that might sound stupid if you told anyone else about it, as long as it works for you, it's good.

13 comments:

AsKatKnits said...

LOVE!! Except my mouth would spew exactly what I was thinking... it's rude like that! Hahaha!

Oh... and I have perfected the "excuse me" like Steve Martin used to do! Works beautifully for those cut you off and bump in to you people!

Patty said...

Keep it going Bridget! This way you'll live to be 100 and really enjoy the days you don't have to go to work any longer!!! :-)

Araignee said...

Good advice all around! Love the bumping story. I can imagine the uncensored version. Civility is apparently a thing of the past.

Kym said...

Those are such good ways to turn things around and keep moving forward through the day. XOXO

kathy b said...

I summarize my days in a similar fashion before sleep. What could I have given up (worrying about) today
what can I hand over in worry for tomorrow, and what am I grateful for tonight. THe grateful part is my favorite. Sometimes it is simply that a plant got a new bud on it

Jeannie Gray Knits said...

There's a group of old men who hang out by the side door of my Walmart. (The side door almost always has available nearby parking and the door is a 'regular' one, not an automatic door.) Most of them seem friendly and we see each other so often we always nod, smile & usually say hello to each other. But one of the men is a horrid, grumpy old man who I swear, purposely blocks the pathway. He's just rude... and when ever I see him going in or out, I always rush to get to the door so that I can hold it for him. I'm determined that my kindness (no matter how hate filled it is) is going to change his horrible attitude/ways. Maybe I'd have better luck if I just started taking deep breathes instead. :)

Wanderingcatstudio said...

#1: Dave does this. When I met him 16 years ago, he had a pretty volatile temper (early '20s, a lot of silly macho testosterone). He's mellowed a lot... but one day he looked at me and said... "do you ever envision yourself kicking the crap out of someone when they've pissed you off...?" I don't.. but we discussed it and he described what his brain does when someone cuts him off in traffic, or really ticks him off... I thought... hell.. as long as you don't act on it in real life, an it helps you calm down... go for it.
I have another work friend who, when someone would tick her off at work, she'd type up a really long, angry email to them (just get it all out of her system) then take a deep breath.... and hold the delete button down until it's all gone. Then she'd feel better and could write a much more diplomatic email to address the situation. The trick to this is to not put the person's email address in the "to" line, so you don't accidentally send the angry email to them.

#3 I try to do this as much as I can. It's really not that hard. Something as simple as holding a door, or telling the cashier to have a wonderful day... I also like to compliment random people. If I see a lady with a fabulous pair of shoes, or someone with a nifty tattoo.. I tell them!

Bonny said...

Thank you for these three ways to try to keep on an even keel. I also have plenty of conversations in my brain, and I've also found myself having civil discussions with people I disagree with in the shower. Sometimes these are practice arguments to help myself work things out, but they're almost always civil and logical. (Of course, my civility and logic wins every time.)

karen said...

we are twins! I get so annoyed with the stupidity of people, and yet I keep it deep inside and it eats away slowly. I try to write what I am thankful for every single morning, it works at making me think positively!

KSD said...

Even if I don't try to go into my brain, my brain usually pulls me in with the "Oh-If-You'd-Only-Said-This-Or-That" exercise. Even that, though, helps calm the fever most of the time.

Nance said...

Ah, the ever-elusive Even Keel! Sometimes, I feel like a duck on water: I might look like I'm serene and peaceful, but underneath it all, I'm going a mile a minute with irritation and irk.

elns said...

This post speaks to me.

I've been feeling a little stabby myself lately and that's the truth.

I'll be frank as someone who has had to go and get help for anxiety because there were times where I wasn't sure I would be able to cope through a day whether at work or not w/o tears I have modified your List of 5. I am at the place where I do not have time for the extra crap. Life is throwing enough at us. I am not going to think about what didn't go well before I go to bed. I'm a considerate over self reflecting human being that will only spiral with my shoulda woulda coulda. It's what saddled me with anxiety --Thinking it's never good enough when in truth there is always something that can be improved was eating me from within. Some people don't need professional help to distinguish one from the other, Guess that wasn't me.

I do try to think about things that went well or I'm happy about. I am still surprised at how taking some deep breaths at various points of the day, but yes definitely at the end make me feel so much better.

I'm with you on being nice. Some small kindness is all it takes from of all of us to make the day a bit better.

Have a great weekend Bridget!

Helen Mathey-Horn said...

I figure the rude people will get their own back eventually and I wish to cultivate the good in me. "Think on those things that are good..." etc. Rude people are their own worst enemies. :)