Every so often a lesson reappears. Perhaps because you need to learn it again or perhaps to help you gain a deeper appreciation, but they do rear their ugly head again at times. For me it tends to come in times of stress, when I stop employing my best stress busters. I allow stress to get the best of me. I sometimes find it difficult to re-center on my own and need to be snapped back to center.
The last several weeks if not months have been extremely stressful for me. Work has been a non-stop parade of meetings, planning, orchestrating and managing. All creating major change. Couple that energy with some personal stressors and you have the makings of a meltdown.
I recognized the toll the stress was taking only in the past week or so. I found myself snapping at my father because he was asking me a few questions and needing to know my every move. The man worries about me and at 90 doesn’t deserve to have me yelling and letting a curse or two slip!! He deserves better that.
I also found myself snapping at work. I told someone to shut up in a meeting. Not extremely loudly, but not my norm. I was horrified that I did that, as was he. Fortunately for me he knows me well and knows that isn’t my norm, but he was still hurt. And I was still horrified.
The final lesson came when I realized I was not approaching a situation with an open heart. I hit a wall with a person and a situation and couldn’t allow myself to feel empathy any longer. That isn’t me, not the authentic me. That is me when I think someone I care about is being hurt, a defense mechanism when I’m hurting. I wasn’t being hurt, although I was left alone because of the person and that bothered me. They gave no thought to me so I reacted. It hit me when a friend of mine pointed out that they learned something about me. “You have empathy and are compassionate for people and their situation until they push you too hard, then you hit a wall and you are done!”
At first I took that comment and said “yep, that’s me!” But the comment began to gnaw at me. Is that me? Not sure. Was I really reacting that way because I was pushed too far or because I thought a friend was being manipulated ? Was it my way of trying to protect my friend when they don’t need protecting or want it? What if I tried to approach this with an open heart? How would that look different?
Well, I wouldn’t be “done” with the person. I would continue to show empathy and allow my friend to react in their own way. I found I was reacting more to my friend than to the person hurting. I have to remind myself who is in some pain, and work at being softer and more caring.
Stress pushes me to forget who I am at times. I allow situations to sometimes get the best of me. I know it is human and no, I am not super human. Waking up and looking at the ocean, breathing that crisp ocean air, relaxing, remind me to step back. Learn the lesson. I’m thankful I notice these lessons more quickly and re-center more quickly. These lessons continue to make me a better version of me.