Explore deep inside your actions

I had an exceptionally shitty day one day some time ago.

You know, the kind where starting from the morning you can’t really seem to get out of bed for lack of motivation and then everything just gradually goes to crap from that.

I was tired, unmotivated and stressed to begin with, so every little mishap felt like a ton of bricks falling on me.

And the anxiety started growing with each little obstacle until such time I felt completely worthless, annoying to others and ready to burst in tears any second – which I did, by the way.

Lessons from within

I learned a valuable lesson that day though. Seems that my ego is a scared little child, that goes into complete “fuucckkkk” mode, when certain things happen and I’m not aware of my emotions.

First of all; I wasn’t invited to a meeting that morning, which I felt I should’ve been included in.

As someone who went through a couple of periods in life, where I was bullied at school – by excluding me from group activities and talking shit behind my back – I’m on high alert when I feel like I’m not part of the group somehow.

Next thing that threw me off was that I had given a certain task to handle and I wasn’t able to complete it, because no one knew the right answers. I got really frustrated, because I felt I was not taken seriously. Later I heard from a third person, that they were actually working towards a solution on this – but no one had bothered to mention it to me. The frustration that followed from this incident comes down to not only feeling excluded again, but also feeling like I am not treated as an equal professional.

And right there – there is another really familiar feeling to me, which throws me completely off balance. But this one is harder to figure out where it comes from. Why do I sometimes get the feeling I am treated like a five-year old? And especially; why do I stoop to that level and throw a temper-tantrum, because “oh, the world is treating me so unfair I can’t believe it!”

Compartmentalising the feelings

It’s not like I was able to analyze anything while I was having my hissy fit.

While it was happening I was just pissed and the only thing I could think of, was pouring my heart out to a friend, who has an uncanny ability to calm me down. Problem there was it made me feel even worse, dumping all that anger and frustration on someone else (even if I always tell my friends it’s exactly what we are in each other’s lives for!).

So when I had calmed down eventually, I started compartmentalising.

I use a technique learned from therapy, where I try to figure out after the fact, what I just went through. What happened, what was I thinking, how I was feeling and what my actions were. See here for a compact explanation of the technique.

Mind you, the point is not to stop you from having these feelings. The point is to start recognizing the triggers and learning to let go. The feeling may come, you’ll understand why it came and then you’ll adjust your actions in the long run.

That should hopefully lead into a situation somewhere in the future, where I won’t let one single feeling dictate the course of a whole day. Or at least that’s how I see this concept will and is actually already helping me.

So what?

I’m quite fond of my slightly dramatic nature, and would never want to stop feeling things deeply. But just every now and again I would like to get over the situations in slightly less time.

So if you, like me, have a tendency to get overagitated quite easily, it might be helpful to you(r bloodpressure) to try and dig deep behind your actions.

Chance is you’ll learn intresting things about yourself.

Nature always helps me calm down

Start trying, start failing

I had a bit of an epiphany today.

For quite a long time now I have been a perfectionist. I don’t know exactly how I have developed this tendency, as I’m quite sure I wasn’t always like that.

To me perfectionism can be summarized to the sentence “I’m not good enough.”

I feel I am a failure if I believe I don’t perform as well as others. And I often believe that. I have a hard time showing people who I really am, in fear of not being accepted. Hell I may not send messages to old friends on my worst days for fear of bugging them.

I don’t ask for help, cause I have to be strong. I never rejoice if others fail – I’m way too kind for that – but other people’s success does make me feel average. And oh how I abhor that word! I truly want to excel at everything I do and procrastinating is a huge part of that.

Until today, that is. As my usual perfectionist self I had decided some time ago to go for a certification. Quite a difficult one, looks nice on your cv. Not everyone passes, so of course I should. Except I didn’t!

And to my surprise I didn’t beat myself about it. Sitting here quite calmly writing about the incident and I’m fine with my failure. Nothing broke. No one cares. Paycheck will keep coming in. I’m still allowed to go to the office tomorrow.

So I started wondering about what has happened during last year. I’ve expressed my opinions freely at work. I have a lot more courage on that front being the authentic me in my professional role. I know how to make an argument. And I don’t mind not always winning them. I even had something I would call arguments with a friend. That shit scares the hell out of me! Turns out the friend didn’t leave me because of those disagreements.

And so – there was an intresting passage in the article I linked to above, which I think holds true for me;

Brown’s remedy? Try practicing authenticity. Let others see you, exactly as you are, and let go of the protecting shield of perfectionism in order to express vulnerability.

“Authenticity is a practice and you choose it every day,” she says, “sometimes every hour of every day.”

Not to worry though – I’m not perfect yet (pun intended!!). Just today I felt very inadequate with my process compared to a colleague. So there’s still a long road ahead!

Happy at work?

Gretchen Rubin states: “Happiness is a critical factor for work, and work is a critical factor for happiness.” (The Happiness Project)

When you think about how many hours in a week many of us spend working, if going to work feels like a chore itself, you’re bound to run into trouble eventually.

I like work.

Sometimes perhaps a bit too much even – but it hasn’t meant that I’ve always been happy at work.

Actually, for a long period of time with my former employer, I would rather have broken my arm, than gone to work. Perhaps if I had analyzed properly, what really annoyed me, I would have realized, that my problem was not so much what I did, than perhaps the culture of the company or the clients I worked for. But all I knew at that moment, a bit more than a year ago was, that I have to get the hell away from there.

I tried and failed in many things before going after any Business Analyst positions (which has basically been my role for the past 9 years) because I was so convinced, software development or being a BA was not meant for me.

Now, after spending an intense rollercoaster ride of a year with my new employer, I can say for a fact I was poorly mistaken about wanting a different career. Even though there has been many ups and downs – not once have I thought in the morning, that I don’t want to go to work.

Instead, what this year has taught me, is that I actually love what I’m doing.

I get an amazing high when we succeed together. I feel positively gitty, when I see the magic of a software being built happen before my eyes. I’m excited to be in control of things and being able to answer questions. I want to figure out the best approach for the software lifecycle. Hell, I even started coding in my free time again!

Working with highly skilled and motivated individuals is amazing.

My former colleague has reminded me on a few occasions that perhaps I did use to enjoy my daily chores also when we were working together. And thinking back, that really was a time work was fun. We made an excellent team.

I had a reminder last week about how it feels when you work really well together with someone. An annoying problem was solved in a matter of hours, deadline secured and everyone else’s work could continue. The moment was bittersweet because I know I will be losing my friend and colleague to another project.

So this year hasn’t been all fun and games at work either. But it has brought good things to my life too. Most of all a friend.

Along has also come a realisation that I am a software development geek for life – where said friend and colleague has been a great influence and incredible support. When he says I am good at what I do – I sometimes actually believe him. I feel I’m starting to find my voice – so one of these days I’ll hopefully know I am good at what I do.

Knowing in my heart, this is what I really want to do, is a hell of a good place to start.

Sometimes I work while being tattooed. I love the fact that it's possible