I started this post yesterday morning. Happy to say that today is going much better so far!
Well it’s only Tuesday and I have been disappointed 3 times already this week.
- I used to get sort of sad on Sunday evenings because it signaled the end of the weekend and the coming of Monday, but since Downton Abbey airs on Sunday evenings I’ve had something to look forward to. For the last few weeks, on Sunday nights, I make myself some tea, go to my bedroom, dim the lights and get my English Aristocrat on. It has become part of my self-care routine and I relish it. Well, this last Sunday evening I got busy with lubing my treadmill (not nearly as fun as it sounds, trust me) and I missed the first half of DA. No big deal, I thought, because I have the DVR set to record it. Except…it wasn’t recording when I went in to catch up. It just refused to record and I never could figure out why…so I missed it. I missed this part of my Sunday night routine and it really just irked the living daylights out of me. (I was able to watch it the next day on the PBS website, so I did get to finally see it…just not exactly when I wanted to.) I was very, very disappointed.
- A friend of a friend has started teaching yoga classes in her garage (she’s certified but doesn’t teach at a facility currently) and I went last Thursday. It was a good class, and I thought it would be a good way to meet some new people. She has posted on FB that she was having a Monday evening session, so I signed up and was really looking forward to it. I had to stay a little late at work, but after work I rushed to the store and grabbed a few things that I needed to complete dinner, then hurried to get dinner ready, then hurried to change my clothes, then stuffed dinner down my gullet (hurriedly, of course) and as I was gathering up my yoga mat and water bottle, the teacher called and said she was cancelling class because she didn’t have the minimum number of people sign up. I think that I was the only person who was going to be there, and she didn’t want to hold class for just one person, which okay, but it really REALLY really left me feeling disappointed and a little upset. I mean, I just spent 2 hours rushing around and rearranging my evening so I could attend her class and she just up and cancels at the last minute because no one else wants to come? I felt a little rejected and let down, honestly. I’m still a little ticked this morning, but trying to get over it.
- My 5th grader has a state writing test today, so last night she asked if I would fix her some scrambled eggs for breakfast so that she would be ready for the day. I woke her up at her usual time and she was irked that I didn’t wake her up earlier – I had no idea she wanted to wake up earlier but still somehow it was my fault. She finally got up and got ready for school while I fixed her eggs, then when I gave them to her, she said she didn’t want to eat. She was mad that I hadn’t woken her up early so out of spite, she didn’t want to eat breakfast. Again, I felt rejected and let down (whether or not it was actually intended that way, I don’t know, that’s just how I felt), so I gathered up my things, told everyone goodbye, and left for work ten minutes early because I was just OVER IT. I just wasn’t in the mood to deal.
Fortunately, I had a session with Emily scheduled and we talked about these things and how upset I was about them. That’s when she introduced the idea of Radical Acceptance to me.
(For an official definition, here’s an article Emily sent me about it: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/pieces-mind/201207/radical-acceptance. And then she even wrote a piece on her blog about it: http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2016/02/how-radical-acceptance-can-help-your-self-esteem/.)
In a nutshell, Radical Acceptance means that even though you are in pain about something, suffering is not mandatory. Pain = x event happened and I’m upset about it. Suffering = I’m going to ruminate about x event and kick and scream against the unfairness of it all and tell anyone who will listen that I’m upset and be really super pissed of about it and ride this wave of indignation for as long as I can. With Radical Acceptance, you can say “This situation stinks and I’m upset about it, but I can’t change it so I’m choosing to let it go.” You come to the very-adult conclusion that throwing a temper tantrum about the situation won’t help, and you just accept that it is what it is, and you move on.
This is one of those skills that is going to take a lot of practice to master, and I’m sure there aren’t many people who have actually mastered it completely, but I can see this being an important one for me to at least try to learn. (Also, I can see that I need to teach this idea to my middle child-teenager whose mantra seems to be “that’s not fair!”)
Like a lot of mental health skills, I wonder why at the age of nearly-45 I haven’t learned this concept before? I mean, I guess I probably knew the concept existed, but why aren’t mental health skills taught in schools, now that I think of it? Seems to me it’s just as important, if not more so, to learn how to manage emotions as it is to learn algebra. Why do we wait until kids or adults are already in distress or trouble before we introduce skills like these in a therapist’s office? But maybe that’s a post for another day…
So, after thinking it over, I decided to let all of the above frustrations go. And after I made the conscious choice to stop suffering, I found myself exhausted! It really does take up so much mental and emotional energy to hold on to those feelings! I mean, I’m tired a lot anyway, why would I hold on to emotions that are going to drag me down even further?
This is a skill I’m going to keep in my back pocket and remember to use next time, so I don’t waste precious time and energy getting upset over things I can’t control.