Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Buck Up: The Chaise Lounge Shrink speaks

I stumbled upon this article from the Huffington Post yesterday and felt that a lot of what the writer said really resonated with me...either from experience or as something I can incorporate into the way I deal with stuff around me. Throughout the years, people have given me (and I have subsequently given people, hence the chaise lounge shrink reference) a lot of advice, solicited and otherwise, about how to manage stress, sadness, grief and even just hair-ripping frustration. There isn't one right way to do things, but I do feel that this list is a fantastic starting point. Some of my most favorite suggestions are:
1. Know your triggers.
In most cases, the easiest way to handle the world around you is to know yourself. I think that's what our late teens and 20s are for...we go through a lot of trial and error to figure out who we are, what makes us tick and what we want to avoid like the plague. Some of my triggers are: Republicans, anti-choice activists, The Wiggles and fennel root. If any of these subjects are brought up, I tend to disengage and/or walk away. Especially with the fennel's so "hot" these days and I personally feel like it tastes vomititious.
4. Celebrate your mistakes.
I'm actually quite skilled at this, which makes me happy. There is beauty in mistakes, you just have to look. Not everything has to be perfect. The writer quoted a lyric from a Leonard Cohen song which reminds a friend of her's not to let his inner perfectionist get the best of him: Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in.
5. Add some color.
No, they're not talking about a bright and cheery vase in an otherwise humdrum room. They're talking about seeing any situation from all sides, versus relegating discussions and disagreements to right or wrong. Considering we're all human, and we all have perfectly legitimate methods to our madness, it's easy to see that there would in fact be a spectrum of reasoning and reaction to a myriad of situations. I think that this is one of the basic tenets of compassion, and one that I often struggle with; I have a neurotic, type A personality when it comes to life organization and disorder, and I often project a lot of my stuff on people. My way isn't the right way for anyone else but me.
11. Make a self-esteem file and read it.
One of my biggest challenges in life is not being able to self-validate. I often rely on friends and family to congratulate, support and provide commendation for a job well done. I also tend to look at my accomplishments as perfunctory rather than exceptional, which I believe is a complication of growing up with an expectation to be above average. But what I do, even on a daily basis, is worthy of feeling great about! I'm going to start leaving myself post-it notes here and there, or in some sort of journal. I deserve to feel awesome.
Basically folks, we're living in some seriously stressful times. The last thing we need to lose are coping mechanisms. Consider printing out this list, even without the subtext, and sticking it somewhere you'll see it often. The ideas provided are a great jumping off point for managing the hazy, dazey and mixed-up world we live in. There's no sense in being pulled in by the undertow.

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