Monday, October 29, 2018

Self Care in Uncertain Times

I deal daily with anger, fear, hatred, and loss here in the Trenches.  Everyone who works in the Trenches does the same.  We try very hard not to have to deal very often with those feelings in others when we leave the Trenches and go home to our personal lives.  Unfortunately, no matter your politics, most Americans agree that we are not in a period in which we treat each other with kindness, tolerance, and love. 

Those of us who toil here in the Trenches are not immune to feeling the same emotions as our clients.  We are not always calm, cool and collected.  Here is some advice we give our clients:

  • Write the nasty responsive email.  Don't put the full email address of the recipient on the email.  Be as awful as you want.  Get it out.  Then, don't send it.  Delete it.  It sounds like a waste of time, but trust me, you'll feel better.
  • Change your assumption.  You know your spouse is doing whatever they're doing just to annoy you.  You know they are just being evil.  What if they're not?  What if they're doing the best they can?  What if they don't have all the information?  What if they're annoyed because they're stressed or hurt or overwhelmed?  You have a choice as to how you view their motives.  It's like that person who cuts you off in traffic; do you feel better or worse when you think they did it on purpose rather than they're just being clueless?
  • Stop and think about why you're angry.  Is it really what someone has done? Or, is it your feeling powerless or overwhelmed?
  • Take a moment and do something else.  Go for a walk, a run, journal, cook, pet your dog.
  • Focus on what you really need to do.  Do you need to respond to that crack about your mother, or can you just answer the underlying question about the children's activities?  Do you even need to answer that email?
  • Take care of yourself.  It's the little things.  I had my car detailed last week for the first time ever.  Now I can't understand why I waited so long.  The shiny surfaces and clean car smell had me smiling for days, every time I got in the car.  Read a book for a few minutes.  Visit with friends.
I'm going to go a step further and say that it's easy in uncertain and angry times to lose sight of our humanity.  It's easy not to take care of others.  We tend to look for what's wrong with people instead of what's right.  When we're in the Trenches, so much of what we do is focus on other's faults, and become polarized.  It dehumanizes us.  I am going recommend You Matter Marathon.  These are their mission and values from their website:

Mission Statement
The YMM is a global initiative that creates positive connections between individuals and within communities.
Vision Statement Draft
We envision a world where individuals naturally and regularly affirm the significance/value of the “other.”
Core Beliefs
We believe that the world would be a more peaceful and joyful place if every person knew they mattered.
We believe that the path to a more peaceful and joyful world begins with daily acts of connecting in positive and sincere ways that honor our common humanity.
We believe that one way to affirm our own significance is to regularly affirm the significance of others.
If you sign up on their website, they will send you 30 cards that say simply "You Matter," in return for your promise to hand out 29 of them in the month of November.  I signed up and I already feel better and more positive thinking about to which people I am going to give some of the cards.  Sometimes "self-care" is helping others feel better about themselves.  I challenge you all to participate in the You Matter Marathon - no running required.  Here in the Trenches.

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