I felt powerless today. It began with being swooped by the very aggressive plovers protecting their nest when I took the dog for a walk. Then on the way back they were even worse, and I ended up having a little cry when I got in the house because they really do come so close and screech at you – it’s just awful.
Next was the dog vomit on my bed; yeah, no idea if it was during the night or this morning – sigh. Couple that with dropping my phone on my little toe (ouch!) and being charged in advance for a meal plan which I didn’t realise I was going to be charged for so soon (there goes $75 from next week’s grocery budget!) and I found myself huffing and puffing around the kitchen feeling irritated and teary.
What was really going on, I asked myself. Every situation made me feel powerless; I had no control over the over-protective birds, the dog vomit or the unfortunate toe incident and whilst the meal plan thing is totally legitimate, I didn’t anticipate it soon enough to make sure I was on top of the cost.
Now that I have written out my woes and uncovered the underlying tension and emotion, I can see that in isolation, none of these things should cause me the distress I have felt, but one on top of the other they create a headspace that feels overpowered and overwhelmed, stretched thin and anxious.
However, I can also see that despite feeling a sense of powerlessness, I am in fact, not powerless as a person, or even powerless in general – just in the circumstances that effected my morning routine today. They’re isolated incidents that don’t have long term affects and other than a bruise on my toe, won’t cause me any problems in a day (other than those pesky birds!).
As I started to get the day in order, I heard myself mumbling that today hasn’t started off well, which is true. But feeding this mindset and letting it guide my day, and letting my very isolated and short-term problems control my outcomes is not something I want to do.
So what do we do with a start like this?
Review. Reframe. Reset.
- We review how we’re feeling. Checking in with each incident that has led up to feeling anxious and overwhelmed and recognising the emotion it made us feel gives us the opportunity to see if there is a pattern in our reactions.
- We reframe each incident and consider why we reacted how we did.
- Was there anything we could do about it?
- Was the level of emotional response warranted?
- Do we need to take further action toward the incident?
- We reset by acknowledging that we had a challenge, responded in a way that was or was not warranted, took the time to work through that experience, and remind ourselves we can start fresh.
For me today, this looked like the following:
- Recognised the feeling of anxiety and asked myself what was going on.
- Took a couple of minutes to think backwards and look at each incident in isolation to determine how I felt when it happened.
- Concluded that feeling powerless was the underlying emotional response.
- Reframed each incident and reviewed what I could or could not change (in the case of the birds, I can contact WIRES to see if they can relocate the birds) or I can pop the dog in the car and we can drive away from the area and walk somewhere else.
- Acknowledged that my emotional responses were fear, frustration, pain and irritation and that each one was a valid and normal response to each incident but that feeling these feelings for longer than a few minutes was unwarranted and moved me closer to feeling anxious for the whole day.
- Reset myself by focussing back on my things to do today, writing this little blog and having a good strong cup of coffee.
Do I feel better? I still have a bit of tightness in my chest, which indicates to me that I still feel some underlying anxiety and that’s okay. It takes some time for the body to get past uncomfortable feelings and settle down. It is not, however, at a point where I feel it could take over my day and is manageable and I am content with that status for now. If it continues longer than the next hour, I will take the dog out to the backyard and throw the ball around, clean something or do some other kind of physical activity to shake myself around a bit. Just a little bit of physical exercise like this can make a big difference.
Do you experience cumulative isolated incidents that end up controlling the direction of your day? What do you do to help yourself move past your challenges? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for managing pesky situations too!
In love and honour,