This morning, I lost my temper. I spend most Sunday afternoons writing and catching up on work, and this week presented a few extra time-consuming projects that I needed to squeeze into the afternoon. Meanwhile, Christmas presents are piling up in our basement, I need to coordinate childcare for the next couple of months and have been, so far, unsuccessful and our Christmas cards that will need addressed are running behind in delivery.
Nothing is wrong, but my mind is filled with several small stressors and, this morning, they got the better of me. After erupting at my husband who was trying to help solve some of these problems, I retreated to get a shower and tried to figure out why I was so stressed about when I would wrap our Christmas presents.
As I processed through, I realized that what I was worked up about wasn’t any of the stressors that were on my mind, but the same lie that is one of my greatest triggers: “There’s not enough time to do everything you have to do effectively.”
When I can begin to identify the false story I’m believing, I can begin to rewrite it. Rewriting the story you’re believing begins first with noticing your emotions. Rather than giving way to them or letting our emotional upheaval be where we stop, allowing our emotions to signal us that something deeper is going on is an opportunity to explore what’s behind it all.
For example, I noticed that I was frustrated and angry about trying to find time to do the things I needed to do before Christmas. Rather than leaning harder into the things I thought I was upset about, I asked myself why that made me so upset.
The answer: I feel like I don’t have enough time to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. The truth: I have enough time, but need to shuffle some responsibilities and schedules around. But, I don’t enjoy the things I have to do and don’t want to prioritize them over other things I enjoy more. And, I wouldn’t have to do that if we weren’t in a pandemic and I had more resources at my disposal. At the core of this trivial upset is a false belief about who I am and my capabilities and resources.
Once I’ve identified what’s really going on, I can begin to write a new story. In this case, what is most needed is recognition that I am excellent at working under a deadline and being creative and resourceful when it’s needed. The new story I’m replacing the old one with begins with gratitude for the many resources I do have at my disposal. People and resources come and go in life, and that won’t change even when the pandemic has ended. But, reminding myself that I handle adverse situations with creativity and capability shifts that negative belief.
From there, I begin to ask myself, “Why do I believe that I’m not capable of solving problems without the help of others?” I journal and meditate on that question and see what memories spark. Was there a moment or event that made me believe otherwise? If something comes to mind, I reflect on it with mature eyes and think of what I would tell the younger me about what happened.
If we allow our emotions to dictate what we’re believing about ourselves, we may be getting an incomplete story on what’s really going on. And, we’re unlikely to be able to get to the bottom of it. Pausing and being curious with ourselves about the story we’re believing, and beginning to rewrite that story, invites us into an opportunity to break out of our vicious cycles and enjoy our lives more fully.