April 27, 2017

..Battling Self-Judgement

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I have been scared to hit "publish" on this one for a while. This is really different territory for Currently Coveting but per the results of my reader survey (still open, please take it!), one of the things you would like to see more of on this blog (along with more outfits) are personal posts, which was a surprise to me, but shouldn't have been because I love when other bloggers open up (kind of a forehead smack moment). I can't make any promises, but I am going to try to commit to 1-2 personal posts a month starting now (putting together something that I think is thoughtful and also personal takes a lot out of me). If you are curious about anything, or have a subject you want me to touch on, please let me know by leaving a comment, taking my survey, or reaching out any of the ways here. I aim to please.

So anyway - I am about to get like, RUUUULL, rull deep.

It can be so very hard to take a long hard look inside and assess where you are. I don't mean your life goals, age, or physically, but mentally and emotionally, where you at right now? Some days I feel like I can do anything, other days I feel like a giant failure but my goal is to live the most positive and happy life that I can (I believe in the law of you get what you vibe) so I like to really stay connected to myself. I do a pretty decent job and wake up most mornings actually feeling happiness but it’s hard work to get there. I have put a lot of effort into modifying the lens in which I see the world.

As tuned in as I am, I still get waves of emotions that I don't understand from time to time that don't feel great. Maybe we all do and just slap the "I'm in a funk" sticker on it and move on. It's the easy thing to do, let them crash over us and try not to be taken into the undertow. I think most of us do this without really attempting to understand the origin of the wave but in my opinion it's so helpful to pinpoint the storm that's causing the self-judgement ripples. So that's what I do.

To begin, I am going to give a breakdown of the complicated inner-workings of the Erin-brain that I have only come to understand after 30 years of life. For example: I am the person that had anxiety over my wedding shower and bachelorette parties last year because the idea of people expending their time, money, and love on me in such a demanding way sent me into an inward "I am so not worthy of this" spiral. I would constantly replay every interaction with that friend and think "do they feel my appreciation?" "Do I reciprocate this love and generosity?" "Will they feel like the effort was worth it?" It was a constant emotional battle the days leading up to each one (and I had three). I know how silly this sounds but I am infinitely more emotionally comfortable on the flip side being the comforter, the giver, the thrower, the person who listens, gives advice, and reassures. 

As a true Gemini/Leo rising communication and empathy have always been my strengths. I can't watch scary movies because of it,  I actually feel what the character is feeling and it affects me long after the movie ends. These same traits also grant me the gift of a very disarming presence (that and I have the voice of a cartoon bunny). I can't tell you how many times I am stopped for directions, help using the metro-card machines on my way to work, or end up on the receiving end of an intimate conversation with an Uber driver I just met...yet I fall into the extrovert category. Meaning I might be chatting your ear off or be the loudest one in the room saying something I will regret but I don't want the attention on me. The math doesn't add up.

The more you know about how your mind works, the better equipped you are to deal with your feelings. I recently found out I am what you call a "Thinking" extrovert (there are now four kinds I highly suggest you find out where you fall). This basically means that yes, I am can thrive in social settings, but there is a constant introspective check running in the background like an anti-virus program on your computer. I am an over-sharer by nature but extremely self-conscious the millisecond after I do just that. I self-reflect after every interaction and (almost) exclusively paint the picture of who I am through others perspectives, so my self-worth ends up in the hands of everyone else. This can be complicated because my default setting is to assume people are pretty harsh even if that isn't true. Surprisingly, this doesn't make me think extra hard before opening up my pie hole and that filter thins out even further when I consume a few glasses of wine (as it does for all of us). This makes that instantaneous self-refection data come back with pretty terrible judgments on myself, which then makes me want to hibernate for a while because I'm disappointed, but as an extrovert, I get energy from social settings so the whole cycle starts again and can be exhausting and taxing. I'll have a small emotional implosion, and then judge myself for daring to have one. I convince myself that my feelings aren't real or justified because I have friends battling things like cancer and fertility and when I look at my life from that perspective I shouldn't have the nerve to feel anything less than #blessed. They say the thief of joy is comparison, but in my experience comparison does not discriminate against the emotions it wants to take from you.

So when I started feeling off and slightly negative about myself I needed to get to the root of it, and then uproot that biatch. I started by examining who I thought I was through everyone in my life's eyes who mattered and it painted a picture of someone who does many things with good intent, but nothing well. I saw an okay daughter, sister, wife, friend, employee, blogger, cook, pet owner, creative, planner, [insert the rest of the hats here]...but not exemplary. I had finally identified that last emotional wave I didn't quite understand and it was the feeling of absolute unremarkable mediocracy. This is, ironically, a deeply painful and overwhelming realization. I may have shed some tears at work, called my husband in a panic, and thankfully had a good friend talk me out of the hole that was totally unprompted and self-induced.

To my surprise I immediately felt a tiny bit better (even through the tears) when I got down to what was nagging at me because I could make a plan to break it down and deal with it. When you understand that the way your mind works is partly out of your control, it's easier to step back and see that some of those insecurities aren't even based in fact (who am I to assume what YOU think of me? You could be perfectly kind!), which empowers me to take a stab at slaying the dragon that is self-judgement. 

The point I hope to make here is that every emotion and feeling comes from somewhere and deserves attention and analysis, especially when it comes to beating up on yourself. It can be too easy to minimize it in comparison to the massive infinite spectrum of possible emotions, but nothing is learned that way. Do your best, learn about yourself, continue improving, and keep that little beast in check when you can by pulling it from the darkness. A thing can seem scary because you can't see it but in the light turns out to be something else much more manageable.

If you haven't yet, please take this quick anonymous survey. Promise you will be in and out in under 2 minutes.

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