I usually don't want to admit this but -- I am stressed.
I don't know why I don't want to admit it, perhaps because it could be perceived as a sign of weakness, but I surrender. I am stressed! For me stress leads to having a short fuse, being tightly wound, getting pissy, being bitchy -- oh, it's just countless. Since life is short and feeling like you are trying to avert a car crash every other minute is not pleasant, I decided I wanted to do something about it. I can't afford the time or money to go to therapy, so I decided to look online for some tools.
I found a great website to help me with stress management. It's in twelve steps (how did twelve become the magic # for recovery?), and I'm giving it a go.
1) Acknowledge you have a problem.
I have a problem.
2)Keep a hostility log.
Here is an abridged version:
- I feel rushed all the time.
- I never get to sit down except when my son is sleeping.
- My daughter doesn't like anything I feed her unless it has sugar on top.
- My husband gets to get in his car everyday on his own, drive it somewhere, and get out on his own and I am a little jealous.
- I take on way more than I should and don't like to, nor do I want to say "no."
- My kids annoy me, and then I judge myself for that fact, because I also absolutely adore them and I keep forgetting those two feelings are not mutually exclusive.
- I have so much I want to do, and never get through a daily list because I keep adding to it.
- I try to tell myself "there is time" and "life is long" but come on now -- I hear "do it now" and "life is short" way more so it wins out.
- Very little is predictable these days, except that Miley Cyrus would do nude videos. I could have bet on that one.
- I don't want to overwhelm or over plan my daughter with activities after school but I want her to keep doing gymnastics and start learning Mandarin. Even though she is five and that is a lot, and yet because she is five, time is off the essence on the foreign language skills.
- My 15 month old wakes up before 6 am and that makes me start my day annoyed, not to mention, tired.
- There is too much good television these days to get to bed early and read and I miss reading. When I try I fall asleep, wake up when the book hits my face and then repeat that cycle a few more times.
3) Use your social network.
- Not posting it on Facebook but I am telling whoever reads this.
4) Interrupt the Anger Cycle
- Working on that currently.
5) Use Empathy
- Okay, I can always give someone else the benefit of the doubt. Just working on my speed at which I get there.
6) See the Humor
- Oh how I love this idea! Try to "catastrophize" the situation in your head. I don't usually have to try so hard and it doesn't often seem funny in the moment, but again I am going to work on my comedic timing.
- I resent whenever someone tells me to "chill" when I am in the heat of a matter, but I am calm right now so I will try to remember what this feels like when my blood begins to boil.
8) Build a Trust
- I like this one. Angry people can be cynical and can believe that others do things on purpose to annoy them. Building a trust is something I can wrap my head around along with number 5, I just need to work on my uptake. I like the idea of showing people that you are a person of integrity and keeping to your word. If people see that in me they are likely to follow my lead.
9) Listen Effectively
Improving active listening skills. When you can listen better to what someone say it is easier to find a resolution that doesn't involve anger. Okay so, that would mean being less distracted and I have lost my train of thought five times trying to write this sentence. I have had to wipe tears, open a pack of baby cookies, save my keyboard from sandy hands, what was I saying? Oh distraction. Maybe in a few years I will hear every word people are saying to me, but for now I will have to settle for #8 and trust that I heard the important parts.
10) Be Assertive
That's kind of my problem. The article makes a point of differentiating between assertive and aggressive but I sometimes think its a bit of a fine line. Aggression is about winning. Case and point: Charlie Sheen seemed pretty selfish to me and he was quite a self proclaimed "winner." When you are assertive you focus on balance and respect the needs of others. I don't know if every one else out there knows of the difference but its a good goal.
I read a story once about a father who taught his child to be more assertive by helping her hone her argument when she wanted something. When she whined he explained to her that it wasn't a compelling enough attempt. He instructed her on how to give a good reason for why it would benefit her to have a lollypop after eating a cupcake. If she made a good enough case I guess he would give in.
I am pretty sure I have this kid already in the making without my help, and I am not sure it's very attractive in a five year old, at least not when my case is stronger for not having a lollypop. I do think having enough confidence to clearly get a point across is crucial, and I want that for my kids and for me. Hope that makes sense and that is assertive enough. Wait...now imagine I said that in a strong voice with confidence.
11) Live Each Day as if it's Your Last
Life is Short. If you spend time getting pissed off, you are going to miss out on some of the joy. In my own personal case I can argue that because I am capable of allowing myself to feel the extreme emotions that come with my frustration I am also capable of feeling an extreme high that comes with joy. I know what it feels like to be overjoyed and alive and there unfortunately has to be the other side of that as well.
I do agree that letting anger get the best of me is a waste of time though. I do have too many things I want to do to let it get in the way. I think checks and balances are important. For example I need to balance my "Breaking Bad" habit with a bit of "Cupcake Wars" now and again, or it all gets way too heavy.
12) Forgive and Forget
Saying sorry is not my favorite thing in the world to do, but I learned very quickly with my daughter that I need to get over that. My mission with I am sorry is that there is really no good that can come from being defensive about our mistakes. If you hurt someone or do something wrong say "Sorry." I have said it to her quickly, nicely and effectively,when she notices my screw ups. Now I could only get this down with my husband I'd be in much better shape.