02 December 2010

The anatomy of a bad day.

There are days- believe it or not- when I have my own little pity party. Sometimes it even lasts all day.  

One of those days was recent, so I started thinking- perhaps sharing some insight and shedding some light would be healthy and appropriate for us all.  So here goes.

Rejection.  It was the theme of the morning.  Here's the thing we don't always realize: in every interaction and in each context, we give clues that convey either rejection or acceptance to the person we're interacting with.

This particular day started with the dog. << Mind you, it was a rainy day and the dog never likes to go outside when the sky is spitting anything. >>  I get up, shower, get ready for work, make coffee-- all the while calling the dog with statements like "come, ready, let's go outside"-- all of which are cue words that he's been trained with from the beginning.  

And all to no avail.

So I tried some different, unconventional statements like "get up lazy butt, wake up, c'mon-you can't hold it all day, you don't eat 'til you pee."

Grouchy Me
Finally, I wound up tricking him into thinking there was a squirrel in the yard he needed to chase. Worked like a charm. But then << remember, it was a pity party kind of day >> it dawned on me that the dog would come out of his winter cave for a squirrel but not for his human.  I thought dog was (wo)man's best friend. Check that box yes, I unconsciously opted to take it personally.

I take care of the dog and eventually get to the office.  All Hands On Deck. The staff is working on a letter to be mailed to everyone and their mom whose contact info has found its way onto our machines.  I offer to help.  I pause to read the letter.  Shock.  I'm shocked.  << Mind you, I'm often painfully aware of my obsession with grammar. >> There are run-ons, extraneous commas, and ellipses with spaces in between << like this: . . .  when it should be like this: ... >>.  There's a splattering of bold font being used throughout, and there are confusing bullet points.  And random exclamation points (!!!) just flat annoy me when they appear printed on letterhead.  There's a P.S., yet the inscription we're writing on each page is a recycled repeat of the P.S.  Gah!

Don't get me wrong. I don't claim to be perfect when it comes to writing << when I hand-write anything, I have flash terrors of the whole page being underlined with those squiggly red lines indicating misspellings galore >>.  I always revel in the chance to give anything that goes out to people in our community- especially with our name on it- a good once-over.

So I'm at the office, stuffing envelopes, taking it personally that my opinion wasn't solicited.  In my head, it was all about me.  But in fact, it shouldn't have been about me at all << which is almost always the case >>.  However, mentally, I decided a couple of both unfair and untrue things.  #1. My co-workers didn't value my opinion. #2. This letter would reflect poorly on me/us. (remember, it's all about me)

Eventually after a little time passes, I manage to pull myself out of my own head and realize a couple more things.

This is why #1 was false.  The day and a half when the letter was going around the office for staff input was a day and a half that I was in and out of meetings the whole time.  There were only hard copy versions passed around, and since I was never in the office long enough to see it, I missed that train.  The draft letter and I were like passing ships in the night.

This is why #2 was false. Most normal people don't scrutinize publications the way that I do.  Most normal people don't notice the extra comma or apostrophe. And I think I'm in the minority in terms of the sick sense of pleasure I have when I see a mistake an editor missed in a published book.  It's not the soapbox that makes me most proud.

Later that day- after the dog and the letter- I went to visit my "little" who happens to be a first-grade boy at an elementary school in town.  His classmate has a "big" who visits him at the same time as we do, and she bought both boys ice cream.  Well my "little" was all about that push-pop. After lunch when I told him that I wanted to spend time with just him after lunch, he kept saying, "We can invite them to come with us."  My internal dialog and response went something like this. "I guess I'm pretty boring to hang out with.  I don't know how to talk to 6 year-old boys. Maybe I should call it quits since the kid doesn't like me anyway." Then once we were actually alone (we did a word search and then went to play computer games), he didn't talk much with me.

Here's why that line of thinking was wrong.  This was the second time I was asking him to hang out with just me (prior to that the 4 of us always hung out). Kids react differently to change. Of course he's going to ask questions in order to try and maintain things the way that he's used to them. And even when he goes along with that change, he's bound to act a little different- he's unsure of himself with all of this one-on-one attention.

So there you have it.  There are days where absolutely everything that happens happens to me... oh woe is me! I get stuck inside my head, and the whole worlds spends a few hours revolving around me.  Those days are not filled with my finest moments.  Part of the point of having this blog is to be honest- embarrassingly so at times. And authentic.  << I hope you never come on here and sniff any BS. >>

The anatomy of my bad days tend to involve taking everything personally; believing that everything is about me; and making lots and lots of assumptions.

If I stop there I've only identified the problem << which is me, in a non-self-absorbed kind of way >>.  The anatomy of turning around a bad day requires back to back to back admissions that << wait for it, hold on tight, here we go >> I'm wrong.  I shouldn't always take things personally.  The world does not, in fact, revolve around me. Additionally, asking clarifying questions << and not just assuming what I thought someone said is actually what they meant >> is an essential coping skill that eases my ability to navigate through life.

Another thin that helps me shift from a bad day to a better day is to think about other people more and think about myself less.  Here are a few of my favorite mind-occupiers  << this row of photos is in no particular order and should not considered all-inclusive >>.

1 comment:

  1. I edit the department newsletter in red when it arrives if it makes you feel better. They apparently don't know about spell check. Or anything else for that matter;) *love*