For over a decade now, I've been a compulsive list-maker. I like to have things written out in front of me in a clear order that I can understand when I read it again later. When I planned my own wedding reception, I had a full timeline written out so that I knew what was going to be happening and when. It brings me comfort not only to know I won't forget things as easily as solely committing them to my faulty memory, but that there are many things that can be processed at a later time after the emotional wave has passed.
For example, if I'm upset with someone or an incident that occurred, initially I am going to have an emotional response to it. I'm also not good at hiding my emotions in general, so if I'm upset it's not difficult to tell. Likewise, when I am incredibly happy, I also have trouble containing my excitement level. So, my process that I put into practice everyday is to allow myself to have whatever reaction comes, but keep my outward expression as controlled as possible. That way I can have a moment or two to process what just happened, and what is a logical response to the problem. It is also largely dependent on who I am dealing with. Friends and family are obviously easier to talk to because you already know each other and know there is mutual respect and love.
If it's a stranger, I try (admittedly sometimes not hard enough) to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they're being rude to me because they've had a long day and they hit the end of their rope just then. Maybe they literally don't know that behaving the way they are is rude and inappropriate. It's hard to remember in emotionally-triggered moments that there are people who think radically differently than you or I do. But it's a fact, and the sooner I can learn to live with that, the more at peace I can become with whatever flows my way in this life.
So, back to lists after that little tangent... In one of my "Screambooks" (which if you don't have one, you should start one. Buy a small, pocket notebook, preferably without lines or graph paper, and use it for EVERYTHING. Whatever you feel like each day, that's what you fill it with. A journal, a sketchbook, a poem collector, ideas, rants, lists, etc.)
I am working on my 3rd Screambook, and many of the pages contain a specific type of list. I headlined them to say either "10 Things I Hate Today" or "10 Things I Love Today".
I try to do the things I hate first, so that I can get that ranting out of the way and begin the process of thinking more positively. I have been focusing on living with a more uplifting and positive outlook for over a decade. I feel this has helped me. So today I am going to do the exercise here. I strongly encourage you to do the same, as sometimes the results are surprising. I often get to 5-6 things and then have to start thinking hard to fill in the rest of the blanks. Other times I have no problem thinking of good/bad things and could probably list more. But I never do. 10 is perfect. It forces me to prioritize what is actually a problem, and what is something I just feel like bitching about.
10 Things I Hate Today
1. Feeling nervous and unsure of myself
This morning I had to drop off my car to get an oil change at my usual mechanic downtown. My plan was to take a bus from my house to get back once it was finished sometime in the early afternoon, but I got a wild hair up me bum and decided to walk there. What a darned fine choice that ended up being.
I had forgotten how nice it is to just walk alone. No music, no chatting on the phone or texting. No hurry to get there. It certainly made all the difference that the weather was perfection. A crisp fall breeze with occasional warmth from the sun, peeking out from scattered clouds. Even though I had to walk through some mildly uncomfortable neighborhoods, I was in heaven. To be clear, I'm only uncomfortable when there's a lot of trash on the ground and the houses are in a state of significant neglect. As a homeowner now, I cannot imagine putting that much money into something only to not take care of it. I guess the same mentality is why the interior of my car is often spotless.
I don't remember much from the 5 mile trek, but I know this - I really, really needed that time to sort my thoughts and have some much needed silence.
Do you go for walks regularly these days? Do you make time for some other kind of activity that brings you peace?
For a long time, I had two big phobias that severely hindered my day to day life. One was a phobia of tall ceilings, or altocelarophobia. It might sound strange and random, but I definitely had it. Upon entering a building, my eyes would scale up the walls, seeing how high they went. If it went up one or two stories, no problem. I was used to that pretty much everywhere I went. But if it kept going and my anxiety started to rise, I would immediately look down at the floor and pretend that the ceiling height was normal - until my anxiety passed, or I was able to exit the area.
The sky didn't count, in case you were wondering about that. There is no ceiling to the sky. Not that we know of at this point, anyway.