Do you ever feel like you are stuck in a vicious cycle of your own thoughts? Dwelling on your own thoughts is like a cow chewing on its cud, chomping over and over without swallowing. Or like spinning your wheels in the mud. Your wheels spin faster and faster while digging a hole, but you don’t seem to be getting anywhere. You find yourself stuck and unable to get out.
We can easily find ourselves overwhelmed by our feelings. Our thoughts can quickly take over our mind and we get caught up in this sticky tangled web we’ve spun. We convince ourselves that we are being ridiculous or too sensitive and end up shaming ourselves for whatever we are feeling. Over time we can start relying on that familiar place of reacting without thinking. We tend to push our uncomfortable feelings away instead of confronting them and then disconnect ourselves from situations completely.
I had an experience with a coworker where I stewed in anger for over a year because of something they said about me. Let’s call this coworker Val. I had previously been on good terms with Val so it was infuriating to me to hear this information. A new colleague (we’ll call her Ellie) shared with me that when she was hired, Val warned her that I was a mean and rude person because I couldn’t have children and just had a hysterectomy. Val also told Ellie that I was difficult to work with. Ellie mentioned all of this to me one day after telling me I was nothing like Val had said and that I was always so kind and helpful with the workload. She admitted she was really nervous to work with me as a result of what Val had told her and didn’t feel right keeping these comments to herself anymore.
First of all, my ability to have children has NO FUCKING bearing on my ability to do my job or treat other people with respect. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Second, why are you blabbing MY medical information to people I don’t even know yet? I am the boss of who gets to know my personal information. Not you Val. Third, you put these preconceived notions in other people’s minds causing them to judge me before they even met me. Not cool. You overstepped boundaries Val. You are now on my shit list. 😠
For the next year I was very distant with Val at work. I kept my communication with her strictly professional but there was always this undertone of displeasure I exuded when talking to her. I couldn’t bring myself to have a civilized conversation with her about what she had said about me because I knew that I would lose my temper and get fired. I stressed myself out everytime I went to work knowing Val was there. I had fallen into the trap of avoiding conflict at the expense of my own well-being.
After I became too sick to work, my health became my priority and I no longer gave a shit about this resentment towards Val anymore. I reached out to her and had the civilized conversation that I was not able to have while we worked together. I aired everything out and she apologized. I accepted her apology and apologized for not being able to have that conversation in person while we worked together.
Life is unpredictable and out of our control. We can choose how we respond to life’s difficulties. Worrying about what others think of you and say about you doesn’t change a damn thing. It won’t suddenly make people love and respect you. It won’t magically change their mind about you. It doesn’t make them accept you. Life can be better when you focus on what’s going on inside of you rather than what’s happening around you.
We can’t stop negative thoughts from popping into our head, but we can learn to recognize and challenge thinking patterns that put us down. We don’t need to let our minds bully us into a constant state of stress. We can either crumble under life’s pressures or embrace them and become better versions of ourselves.