Monday, September 24, 2007

More and Better Complaining

I'm having to make a peculiar and backwards-seeming change in my behavior.

It appears that I'm going to have to start griping more. I won't burden you with the messy details, but a few times recently I've stayed "nice" a beat or ten too long and wound up exploding.

After much thought and conversation, I've come to realize that it's really important for me to say earlier when something doesn't suit me. To say it more than once, if need be.

I've never liked the idea. In spite of such flourishes as my painting my car floral, I'm basically a low-key and somewhat stoical sort.

Now I am convinced that I must become overtly cranky more of the time. This is huge. I expect I'll find it interesting. Perhaps, ideally, even liberating.


Debra Whaley said...

I'm with you on that, Peggy! Part of what I have had to learn by living with a chronic illness, is to speak up sooner. I no longer have the luxury of sitting back and allowing people to stomp all over my boundaries while I sit there with a submissive smile on my face.(Possibly one of the only good things that has come out of feeling crummy most of the time!) Time, age, and illness have all taught me to know when I am getting to the point just before I feel like I am going to blow up. I look at that now, as the point of no return, meaning that if I allow myself to get past that point, I will either say or do something that will end up being hurtful to myself or somebody else. It takes a lot to motivate me to reach that point, but when I am on that precipice, I must remind myself as to what will happen if I allow things to continue. I have had to teach myself to act BEFORE I feel trampled on. If I act before things really get to me, then I feel like I am still in control of the situation. If I allow things to proceed past that point, then I lose. I lose control, I lose my mind(It feels that way!), and I lose self-respect.

I guess that your post really struck a chord with me because I have been working very hard on creating that boundary for myself. I am working on learning how to protect myself from being taken advantage of, and ultimately, feeling really horrible for not honoring my own needs first. Does any of that make sense? It sounds like you have reached the same point. Please let me know how you end up dealing with it!

Peggy said...

I admire your ability to recognize when to act. I find it hard to note the problem early enough.

One thing I'm doing in that direction is stopping telling myself: Oh, that was too little a matter to even discuss.

Do you have cues that tell you when it's time to speak up.

Debra Whaley said...

Thanks Peggy. I must admit that this is still "a work in progress" for me. I still have times in which that line can get crossed, brushed over, and even erased, but I am still trying. I think that some of it has to do with what my mindset is on any given day.

I like your idea of not dismissing your own boundaries by telling yourself that something was too little matter to discuss. I think that is a very good place for you to start. By acknowledging the feelings that come up when someone says or does something that causes you to even have to think about whether or not you should react. That is a good time for you to put up your little boundary antenna! It can be difficult, at times, for those of us who have allowed things to roll off a bit more than we should have in the past. Knowing when to speak up is a kind of reflex that we trained ourselves NOT to use, and therefore, that ability has become weakened over the years.

As far as cues that I use to remind myself to speak up, I try very hard to identify the physical nudges that my body uses to signal that something is just not right. When I am in a situation in which I should be speaking up about something and I'm not, I begin to feel very tense. That is generally the moment at which I would dismiss my own feelings by not saying what I am really thinking. Now, when I start to feel that tinge of tenseness, when my mind continues to revisit something that has just happened, or when I feel that someone is trying to push past my feelings, I try to re-center myself. If I notice that my mind is racing while I am still standing there allowing the situation to proceed, then I remind myself, in that moment, that I need to take some kind of action. What I decide to do, depends on the situation. It might be something as simple as just taking a deep breath, but whenever I take the time to make some sort of decision about how to react, I almost always feel better. I feel more empowered by allowing myself to make a choice as to how to react in that moment.

People tend to become surprised when they notice that you are speaking up more, but it isn't their reaction that you should be most concerned with. It is how speaking up makes you feel, and what you gain from it that's important. After a while, the reflex begins to kick back into a more natural gear, and you will find yourself honoring your own voice more and more.

Sorry if went on too long, but I can definitely relate to your feelings about this! Let me know how things work out for you. Have you discovered any more cues?

Peggy said...

Some great ideas here. The little boundary antenna, for one. Also, noticing one's own feelings about being properly protective, rather than focusing on how other people respond.

Do you happen to be/have been a therapist, Debra?

Debra Whaley said...

Hi Peggy,

No, I am not, nor have I ever been an "official" therapist. I did major in Psychology in college, but that is as far as I ever went with it.

When I was volunteering at our local hospital as a Spiritual Care volunteer, I considered becoming a non-denominational chaplain. Unfortunately, that's around the time that my illness became more limiting, and so I had to divert my focus.

I do tend to do a lot of inward examination of life, and I try to recognize patterns and lessons. Maybe that is why I came across as sounding like a therapist? I think part of the reason that I enjoy your books so much, is because your characters do a lot of soul searching. I enjoy the way that you allow them to grow and evolve. I can relate to the ways in which they find answers in the spiritual,yet their struggles are in most ways, quite ordinary. I like the way that you can make the most ordinary life, seem extraordinary.

I meant to tell you that I finished Revelation, and I really enjoyed it. I found it to be quite inspirational!

Peggy said...

Writing fiction is the primary way I do my own soul-searching.

I'm glad you liked Revelation.

I like your list of cues, by the way. Especially the one about noticing that you're going over something in your head again. I'm going to pay attention to that.