Anger. I cannot get it to move out of my head lately. I've blogged about it, I've talked about it, and I've been coached on it. And I still feel this pit in my gut that is acidic anger and frustration.
I made soup this morning. I like to cut up vegetables and meat and put them in a crockpot with herbs and spices. One of these days, I will figure out how to make it taste delightful. Right now, I can make it healthy and edible.
I cut up the onions, celery, and carrots and thought of Mike's grandmother and the soups she would make every other Friday night dinner in the winters. They were yummy and often served with beer or monkey bread. Sooooo good.
My disappointment and, eventually, anger built with every slice. Seriously? 7:30 a.m. and I was getting angry making soup? Cutting vegetables is good therapy, so I went into it. Where in my body was that feeling? My gut felt like a rock dropped into it. A spiky or poisonous rock. Like I needed a Tums or something, but I knew that I didn't. It was anger. I was mad. I'm a coach. Coaching thyself! What else? Oh, I was disappointed. There was sadness. Unspent tears. What was making me sad and wanting to cry?
I rested the knife on the cutting board and stared out the window. Oooh – why don't they like me? Why don't they love my awesomeness? Why don't they care about me? Oh, because I suck. That's right; I am a people pleaser and not always authentic. That's right. It's my fault. I put the vegetables in the pan to sauté and grabbed the turkey from the fridge.
I slid the big knife from the block and felt Rico at my feet because he smelled the meat. Yeah, I am a terrible person.
I smell a saboteur, inner critic, negative voice, or whatever you want to call it. Mary, are you terrible? Are you rotten, selfish, hypocritical, lying, cheating lowlife not worthy of love? (My saboteurs are nasty.) But when the saboteurs arrived, I knew I was on the right path. They like to stop growth and change. So here I was trying to grow.
No. Sigh. You are fantastic. So, what's the deal? Hmmmmm, I wanted them to see me and know that I am awesome. I want them to like me. Ooooh – there it is. Why don't they like me?? That rock in my stomach started to shrink with the realization. I hurt because I don't think they want me. I could work with this, and I felt my energy change from tension to curiosity. What the hell is that about? I had to look at this again?!
We all develop survival mechanisms, or saboteurs, to do what it sounds like – to help us survive and stay safe as we grow up. They all come from the "lizard" part of our brain that runs the "fight or flight" response. They desire the status quo and no risk. That gives very little room for growth, change, or chance. They serve a purpose... until they don't. But then they are well built and grounded in our psyche. They can be difficult to hush and unwind. But they can be kicked to the curb, tossed in the garbage, run over in the street, or any other smush you can imagine.
Years of my being coached have shown me many of my inner critics. There is the "abandoned orphan" who arises less frequently now. I often hear that voice when I worry about someone not liking me or being mad at me. "If I do this, I may lose them." In the past, I didn't think about what was possible in the other direction. For example, "If I do this, I might learn something about them, and our relationship may get stronger and richer."
There is the "resentful martyr" who I hear when I jump to someone's rescue too quickly and sacrifice too much of myself. "I will do all of the housework, Jordan's appointments, pack all of our lunches, make dinner, buy the groceries, keep our clothes clean, and always do something productive because you need it and will appreciate it." And then I would subconsciously expect the adulation and grand gestures of gratitude that would not come. The resentment would build. I remember a specific moment where I became aware of the resentment building and burning in my heart. It was my birthday and Jordan, and Mike decided to pretend they forgot. Instead of calling them out, I fumed and went about my Saturday doing laundry. I found a brand-new shiny iPod next to the laundry detergent, and I burst into hot tears. I was so mad at them for tormenting me and the fact that they knew I would still be doing the laundry on my birthday. Why was I doing laundry?! I didn't tell them. That survival mechanism did not serve me well that day.
Saboteurs lie to us. Mine says that I must earn acceptance. That I help others selflessly and don't expect anything in return. That the world would be a better place if everyone did the same. And that I can make anyone like me.
Searching for the poultry seasoning I'm always out of, that last lie sat on my heart. I can make anyone like me.
Nope, I can't do that. I knew that.
Not everyone is meant to like me. I can't be everyone's cup of tea. I asked myself if I could be with that? Could I acknowledge that fact and live with it? Not really.
I am trying, but ugh, it's hard. Being my authentic self drives me now, and that will help me battle and hush this saboteur. I have felt the freedom that comes with being myself, and it is sweet. Sweeter than adding one more person that likes me to my pretend scoreboard.
I put the top on the crockpot and turned it on low. I leaned against the counter, put my hands in my pockets, and closed my eyes. I took three deep breaths to center myself and helped my brain move more to the right, to the "Sage" part. (Science, baby!) Then I told myself that the soup would be yummy and that I do not need to earn anyone's acceptance. I accepted myself. I stretched that muscle...again.
Would you like to learn more about your inner critics, gremlins, saboteurs, and strengths? Email me at email@example.com, and we can get started learning together.
And… do you know how I can make my soup taste better? I am open to suggestions!