This week’s update shares acknowledging disallowed emotions, a small win in the kitchen, and my reaction to making goals.
These weekly updates share life with OCD as part of my Mental Work Health project to reduce stigma around mental health, especially at work.
This week, I thought it would be interesting to share a few excerpts from my morning pages notebook.
Lately I have been trying to give myself time for mental and emotional processing, and explore what I need on that day. Sometimes it is a Mindful Sketch exercise. Often, it is just free writing.
Hopefully this intimate look inside my head and process sparks some ideas of how you could work through some of your own thoughts and emotions.
Driving home from work one day last week, I texted my wife that I needed some time and space that evening. I was feeling off. After family dinner, I went up to our room and crashed. The next morning, I tried to process what had happened.
Last night I needed some time off. Some time alone. I played Alto and then went to sleep early.
I know I was tired. But I don’t actually know what I was feeling. I would like to explore that.
Part of it was just being overwhelmed, I think. One of the issues was that my evenings and rest time lately were often doing something for my website. When I don’t give myself mental breaks, I start to run ragged.
That is where Jocko talks about surfing and guitar and maybe even jujitsu. I would like to get some hobbies that are totally separate from my work and what I am focused on during the day. I need mental changes.
It is an interesting exercise to consider what those hobbies would be. I would have liked to do blacksmithing again, and it felt like something that didn’t really fit right now. I’m ok that I’m not doing it. Maybe it could be reading for now. Or playing piano.
I also don’t actually need to solve it right now. I am doing plenty and don’t have to insert something else in. But I do need to make sure I am getting the rest I need.
Maybe the issue is just that I am really tired right now. Maybe I just need some extra sleep. I suspect that part of the problem is that I am not sleeping super well. Between some sleep apnea, and the heat in our room, I’ve not been getting great sleep lately.
But at the same time, part of the issue is that I get extra tired when my anxiety is riding high. So I want to make sure that I am giving the care I need to my emotions and emotional state.
So let’s ask, what am I not allowing myself to feel?
An answer jumps out at me immediately. I have been disallowing the fear that this is not going to work out and smothering it with my excitement. I want this so much that I am only allowing positive emotions.
I have been telling people there is some fear, whether because I think that I should, or whether part of me knows that it’s there, I don’t know.
But I am worried that I don’t have more work yet.
I would like to build up much more of a buffer. I was ready to work my ass off and get ahead, but the work hasn’t been there. I had hoped that I would have more stable income by now, or if not that, then at least more income to make up for it.
I am so afraid of it not working that I have not been willing to plot things out and know how much money I have and need right now. Maybe the answer is YNAB. If I am planning where the money will go, I will know how much time I have for the money I do have.
I don’t know exactly what to do. I don’t want to just be seeking for certainty. And I also don’t want to be avoiding it. Right now, I am largely just avoiding it.
I think what I would like is to track our flexible spending and then just know/make sure the monthly bills are going to take care of themselves. I have that set up now. All the bills will just get paid every month. I would like to check in occasionally, but basically automate that and just check on it.
For our spending or flexible money, I don’t really know what I want to do. Part of me wants to categorize things. Part of me wants to not even worry about it.
That is a good topic to discuss with my therapist today.
We will have to see where this goes. One thing I know—I can keep working and moving forward even when I feel strong emotions like this. I can do this.
Most mornings, I get up at 6:00, shower, and head out by 6:30 or so. I often stop by Chick-fil-A for breakfast, and get to my office a little before 7:00. One morning last week, as I went to leave, I noticed that the dishes had piled up in the sink. That is a job that I have taken on right now, but had skipped a couple days. I was torn for a minute, and wrote out some of my thoughts when I got to my office.
I feel proud and satisfied at my choice to clean up the dishes in the kitchen before I left.
I knew that I was risking waking the kids up. Or to be more honest, I was risking hearing the kids awake and feeling the immediate pressure and guilt to get them up and spend some time with them.
I was afraid of having my morning thrown off, and also accepting that it might happen. I didn’t have big plans to do when I got here, and I knew it would be fine to spend a few minutes with them.
I do miss exercising. I would like to do that again. I can shower here at my office. It just requires that I prepare a little bit, ideally the night before. I would like to aim to do that again.
I’m not going to plan and schedule everything out. But I would like to say that I am ready to start work by 8:00, having studied scriptures a bit, even listening to General Conference, exercising daily, showered, and done some kind of mentally restorative activity. That sounds pleasant.
And on many days, it won’t work out. That’s fine. It’s not a rigid start to my morning. It’s a nice goal to shoot for, or intention to have that will sometimes work and sometimes not work.
I shared a couple weeks ago about signing up for the Accelerator program at The Focus Course in update #86: Mental Toll:
One of the exercises I completed was to review and make a goal for each of the six areas of life:
- Emotional and Spiritual Life
- Physical Health
- Rest & Recreation (personal interests and down time)
As soon as I finished the exercise, I sat down to process.
I am torn today. There are so many things that I want to do after going through my goals exercise.
I want to just sit with that feeling. I want to relish the anticipation, the ache for action, the desire to commit fully to something and to dive headlong into.
I want an obsession.
That’s part of what that feeling is.
Ok, I know what to do. I can keep going in the Focus Course, but I don’t get to put a single one of those goals into practice yet.
They will not bring me the relief I am craving right now. Or maybe they will! But that’s not what I choose to do right now.
Instead, I will pull the thread on that craving for relief.
What do I want relief from?
That feels obvious—uncertainty.
I want to be able to focus more on just doing something, and less about finding something to do.
This period of searching is agonizing because I am not clear on what I will be doing. And at the same time, it is exciting. I enjoy the thrill of the chase.
And now that I have a couple contracts that are doing ok in terms of covering the bills for a bit, some of the pressure is off. Not all the way, as they don’t cover enough for even a month, but from what I have plus those, I am feeling pretty good with where I am at.
I have found again and again in my life that when I am struggling, usually there are some emotions I am disallowing.
Pause and ask yourself, “What am I not allowing myself to feel right now?”
We must improve our ability to identify and acknowledge our emotions. They are not good or bad—they just are. Sit with them. Allow yourself to feel them.
And then decide what to do.
Emotions are a valuable source of information, but they don’t dictate what must be done.