Oops, I Did it Again!
‘I’m sorry but if you don’t communicate with me, how on earth am I supposed to just turn up and produce choreography for different parts of the play, with different groups of people without having seen them or the staging first?! I’m sick of feeling like a disappointment to you and am going home!’
As I sat sobbing in the car, I was hit with a Deja-vu sensation as this was a very familiar pattern. While there was certainly some justification for my frustration, my reaction had nevertheless been extreme and in no way deserved by the stunned recipient. So what was going on?
As I sat blubbing to my friend who had come out to join me, I realised that actually, my tears and frustration were due to my beloved dog, Oz, showing a sudden and rapid decline with his arthritic condition and the sheer enormity of the possibility of losing him was breaking my heart. Not helped also by my feeling of guilt that I had let him down by not doing enough to prevent this.
I had calmly shared this with friends but not acknowledged the reality of the pain I was feeling. However, when I began crying at almost every act of Britain’s Got Talent and any commercial with an animal in it, I really should have guessed that something was soon going to give!
The release of my rampant emotions in the car did make me feel better as crying always does. But I realised I had to apply a bit of, ‘physician heal thyself’ philosophy to get to the root of what was really going on and to give me different options of coping that did not involve blasting innocent people with my emotional outbursts.
So, first of all I looked for the pattern. When did these outbursts usually occur? Who with and for how long? What was usually happening immediately before, during and after the outburst?
So, for me, my trigger is when I feel any sense of physical or emotional overwhelm which can lead me to feeling resentful of others making demands on me or feeling I am letting them down while also angry that they are not being supportive enough of me. The pattern is that I rarely actually express this and carry on saying yes to things while not communicating my own difficulties or asking for help or support. Instead, I turn to my old friend, Snappy who is always ready to leap into action!
What? Who is Snappy? Well, my emotional outburst employee of course!
I met Snappy when I was doing my training with Mark and Magali Peysha of Strategic Intervention. We were doing an exercise about gaining emotional mastery and they had a very playful take on how to get close to a difficult emotion and understand its purpose. This then paved the way to create different emotional responses that brought more control and well-being.
Having identified my emotional outburst as someone called ‘Snappy’, I then invited her to sit with me. I gave her personality and clothes (bright green with huge teeth and very thick glasses as she was very short sighted.) We had a chat and I asked her why she kept coming up so much and what she was trying to get me to see.
She explained that her job was to be on constant alert to immediately defend me and keep me safe from uncomfortable emotions. This was wither by blocking them or making me sensitive to external triggers against which I could externally vent and avoid looking at what was really going on that was more painful. She was very good at this thank you very much, so why was I now being so ungrateful?
Why indeed. I thanked her for doing such a splendid job but pointed out that actually, this was stopping me taking proper care of myself and was making me feel worse, as well as alienating me from people and the support I craved
So, as her caring boss, and taking note of the feedback offered, I vowed to take back some responsibility by exploring other options and invited her to take early retirement with the understanding that we would always stay in touch as she had been of so much value over the years.
So what other options did I explore?
Well, first of all, I began to notice the pattern of my emotions and which people or situations triggered me.
I kept a journal to track this and also to note down which emotions lay beneath the trigger and what they really meant. For example, as well as guilt, not feeling good enough and fear of losing something I loved, other emotions such as long held anger, frustration and sadness from the past began to surface.
I gave myself permission to feel these emotions and rather than fight or resist them, I began to simply just allow them to surface then let them pass. I also wrote down any information or insight they brought which helped release them in a more loving way.
I found that what I needed was to show myself the same compassion I would a dear friend and cut myself some slack. I also gave myself permission to cry and express my pain either through writing or talking with a friend, allowing for a different perspective and therefore different behaviours.
So, if like me, you also suffer from the trying to stop a burst emotional pipe with your thumb and watching it explode out in different directions and causing havoc type, then I invite you to try the exercise. If you would like any further information, help or support with that then please do get in touch.
And Oz? He is living to fight another day and I am embracing my tears by crying at every episode of Britain’s got Talent and The Supervet!