Saturday, October 13, 2012

Punch Fear in the Face.

I'm going to ask that you indulge me a bit here.  I promise I'll get somewhere if you'll see it through.

Imagine I asked you to do me a favor and you agreed.  I requested that you go to the store and pick up some half-and-half for my coffee and you returned with a cup of milk you borrowed from the neighbor.  How am I supposed to react to that?  You agreed to the request and then you then did what you felt like doing which wasn't what I asked of you nor was it what you agreed to.

Let's run through the possible outcomes here:
1.  I suck it up and drink my coffee that now tastes like crap.  I resent you because if you had just done what I had asked and you agreed to, I would be happy.  Now I'm not and it's your fault.
2.  I could tell you that you didn't do what I asked.  You could give me attitude, tell me it's good enough and that I'm too demanding.  Again, I feel terrible because you've pointed out one of my flaws (holding people to standards) and you're upset with me.  Even if you don't give me attitude and you simply go back out to the store, I feel guilty for pointing out what you did incorrectly.

All my life I've been a people pleaser.  If roles were reversed, I'd have asked you what brand you like, the level of fat you'd like in your half and half and if your first choice is not available what your back up is.  This way, you see that I tried my hardest to make your coffee experience as pleasurable as possible.  If your coffee sucks, it's not my fault.  I did what I could.

I know this is insane, by the way.  However, if you came back to me with ANY half and half, I'd be happy.  Milk is not half and half, therefore I am unhappy.  And if you give me attitude and imply that I should be happy as both are dairy products that will, in fact, lighten my coffee, I will be further annoyed.  My standards are not as high as everyone thinks - I simply think that in very many cases, there is a right way to do something and a wrong way.  Milk does not equal half and half.  This is a black and white case.

The problem here is why can't people just do what they are asked and what they agreed to?

I hired someone to grout my shower.  He did, except for one spot where he didn't.  Now I am waiting for him to come back (on a Saturday no less, when we had to rush our showers because it will not be unusable for the rest of the day) and do his job correctly.

Someone asked me for my opinion on a separate matter.  I said that I thought the solution to the problem could potentially be found in a particular place and should be sought in that location.  That person did not seek the solution and then I was called into the matter again by another person only to have to repeat myself.  And when I said I didn't want to continue discussing until the research was done, I was given attitude and it was implied that I was in the wrong.

Whenever I ask my kid to do something that he is 100% capable of doing, he does the bare minimum coming close to what I asked but not quite there.  Then when I tell him he didn't do what I asked, he gets upset that I'm displeased with him.

In all three scenarios, the end result is the same. I feel like a shit-heel for expressing displeasure that someone did not do what was expected.  I feel guilty.  I have been told I'm too demanding and that I expect too much of others.  I have been told I'm a bitch.  I have been told that I'm mean.  I often end up doing things myself and then resenting the person who should be doing it in the first place.

I don't think that telling someone they didn't do what you asked them to do is wrong.  I don't yell or scream.  I have been known to use my so-calm-it's-scary voice, the one that you can never prove I said anything wrong or used a threatening tone or anything like that, but you know that I am done screwing around.  I do throw tantrums now and again, that is true, but usually that's when my first 12 attempts to get something done fail.

It's week 6 of the challenge.  The topic this week is punching fear in the face.  What am I afraid of?  Here's a brief list:

  • That everyone will hate me.
  • That in an effort to keep people from hating me, I will hate myself.
  • That I will never feel worthy of standing up for myself to demand what I need.
  • That I will be an angry, miserable bitch for the rest of my life.
  • That if I stop exercising so my achilles tendon heals, I will never get back to it.
  • That I will never feel rested again and I will always be too tired to do what I want to do.
  • That I will spend the rest of my mental capacity thinking about insurance and benefits and not focus on my writing because I'm too burnt at the end of the day to get much writing done.
  • That I have wasted all of my good years already and this is it for me.
Here is a list of things that I know about the above fears, lest you think I'm completely irrational.
  • I have a wonderful husband and a great kid so even if "this is it" things are pretty damn good.
  • My ankle won't stop hurting if I don't take care of it and I can take a break and I won't gain back all the weight.  I can also buy new shoes like I've been threatening to do for weeks and that will help.  But it requires being proactive rather than complaining.
  • There will always be people who don't like me, that's their problem. 
  • I don't have to please everyone and I don't have to do every thing myself.  
  • I can stick to my standards without being a bitch.
  • I can choose to be happy or I can choose to be miserable.  
  • My kid will someday sleep and someday I will too.  I won't be this tired forever.
  • I can find time to write if I want to make the time.  
  • Insurance and benefits was a safe choice career.  It doesn't have to be permanent but it does have to be for now.  
  • I'm 36, not 86.  This isn't it for me.
I guess my biggest fear of all is that when I get in this mood it's not going to go away.  That's never happened before.  I'll stop being in a rancid mood.  People won't bother me so much.  My patience will return.  I can get back to normal.  Until it passes though, it's such a chore to make healthy choices.  It's exhausting.  

I have to keep going.  The funk will pass.  I don't really have the energy to punch fear in the face, but I'll give it dagger eyes and hope it gets the point.

On to Week 7.  But first, I've been doing my 20 minutes 6-7 days per week.  I haven't purchased breakfast or lunch or had any alcohol.  

Starting weight: 162.8
Current weight: 151.6
Total lost:  11.2 pounds

I'm doing well.  I know it.  I wish I felt it.

If you got this far, thanks for finishing the post with me.


  1. You are doing so well! 11 lbs that is frickin awesome!!! As per your expectations and disappointments (and feel free to ignore me if this doesn't represent you or if I misinterpreted what you were saying). I went to a counsellor (in my early 20's for an anxiety disorder) who looked at me and asked one day, "Why are you upset?" I told him it was because my boyfriend wasn't doing the dishes correctly (leaving me to clean it up properly), I told him my coworkers weren't doing a great job either and on and on about the half assed jobs everyone in my life was doing. He looked at me and said, "It's important that we have collective agreements with others. It's how the world works. But it would be foolish to assume that we all enter into the agreement with the same skills, standards, and ideas of achievement. Maybe your unhappiness lies not in how the person completes (or doesn't complete) the task, but because you hold standards for THEIR lives and THEIR work ethic. Why?" He went on to explain that the only person who I can expect to carry out my high standards to a degree of satisfaction is myself. That I was being unreasonable to expect the people in my life to behave and act like me.

    That was a huge revelation to me. I guess I never took into account that people have different backgrounds, different ideas of success, even different levels of maturity. That being said I still think people can step it up a notch so I don't have to do a million extra things... BUT learning not to base my own happiness and satisfaction on how other people live their life was a huge lesson and one I have to relearn over and over sometimes!

    So i think carrying expectations are important but also learning to let them go is just as essential. (again please ignore me if that's not what you meant)

    And I know you said you don't have the energy to punch fear in the face but I think that's because you already went 10 rounds with it.
    You are doing so great with your goals and I am always inspired by your progress.

    1. You are so right - you hit the nail on the head here. And somehow knowing all of this doesn't stop me from forgetting it all! I don't know why I let myself get so caught up and crazed by it. I'm going to work on that this week. I need to remember not to let other people's lack of whatever make me nuts. Thanks for such a thoughtful comment. I really appreciate it!

  2. Bravo - this post punches fear right in the kisser. Thank you for sharing your frustrations and your fears (with the "reframe" chasers). I relate to so much of this and also struggle with being a people pleaser/resentment monger. Your explicitness helps me as I ponder some of these same issues for myself. Thank you!

    1. I'm sorry you can relate to these feelings but also I'm glad to hear it's not just me. Some days I feel like the only one who feels like this. Knowing that I'm not really does help - that I'm not the only one who thinks people don't always pull their own weight. Thank you!

  3. I love this. I'm starting to look so forward to your challenge posts. This is do candid and I relate to do much of it. I still haven't told my nanny to please do the kids laundry as we discussed in the interview... 2 years ago. Hard stuff.

    1. Are you beating yourself up that maybe if you'd reminded her about the laundry say 1-2 weeks in it would be fine, but now it's been so long that you can't bring it up. But you resent her b/c surely she MUST know she was supposed to do it. And why doesn't she feel guilty that she's not doing it? You can't fire her over it because you should have mentioned it so long ago so now you have to do the laundry yourself and it's all her fault.

      That's how I'd be discussing this in my brain every single day.

      Thank you for looking forward to these posts. They are starting to feel like all I do is piss and moan about my made up problems. I'm glad they aren't reading that way to you. Unless they are and you're just into that sort of thing...

  4. First of all, holding people to standards is totally reasonable! Never feel bad about that. And, go ahead and let yourself heal! I broke my foot and had to take 4 months off of exercising. I lost muscle tone but I did not gain weight. You can do it! Your weight loss is awesome, you should be so proud. You are doing great, and I hope you wake up tomorrow knowing it!

    1. A broken foot sounds terrible! Thanks (once again!) for being so encouraging. I've done this to my tendon before and I know I need better shoes for exercising and to stay off it for a week or so, but I'm so afraid to lose momentum. Or I need to stop wearing crappy shoes to work or around the house. So silly that I'll keep torturing myself out of fear!!

  5. Here's one thing I think... if you didn't feel "guilt" at being disappointed, you wouldn't give a crap at this notion that you think people think you're too demanding. So that is actually one thing you can work on in yourself - do not feel guilty for feeling disappointed or hurt. Seriously. If it bothers you, it bothers you, and you need to accept that in yourself and make peace with it in the sense of DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. That is a huge chunk of the anguish that you can do away with. It is really something to work on. I say that because I grapple with it too - and a HUGE chunk of the resentment we feel towards others is because the guilt makes us push things down. Please consider working on that - being nicer to yourself, treating yourself better, which includes not demeaning yourself or saying bad things, and it includes not feeling guilty for your feelings - stick up for yourself. It bothers you - say so, and don't feel bad about it. F- that.

    Now, other resentment comes because you know you'd put more effort in. So you can either put less effort in, ask for more effort from others, or not take their lack of effort personally. It might not mean as much to them as it does to you.

    However, in some cases their lack of effort IS a sign of disrespect (not always). So you have to tell the difference. Your child, for example, may be included. Have him watch the Karate Kid and how Jackie Chan deals with the kid who never picks up his clothes... ;)

    Stick up for yourself. And don't feel guilty. My friend is SO good at sticking up for herself. She's a kind of "oh hell no" kind of woman. And people sense that. She makes it clear. She doesn't feel bad about it. And yep, some may think she's a bitch. But most think she's really awesome actually. She just makes her expectations clear, if something doesn't match up she either says so gently, or says so boldly, depending on the infraction. But whatever she case, she says so CLEARLY. And she doesn't add in the personal sort of "you let me down" emotional stuff. She just clearly states "I expected XYZ" with no hesitation or guilt. She handles herself confidently. And she gets shit done. Michelle you totally can do this. Confident and clear. No guilt.

    I know it's hard. Practice :)

    Nobody hates her. I think people appreciate her clear boundaries and expectations. Because except in the moments when she needs to be strict she is a delight - always laughing and doing sweet things for other people. But her boundaries are super clear. That's something we can all emulate. She doesn't do things she doesn't want to do, so she doesn't build up resentment. When things cross her boundaries or don't go the way she expected she doesn't get emotional or build up resentment because she is confident in herself and truly believes that she is a fair, kind woman, and she made her expectations clear - so she feels confident in addressing these issues.

    So be clear, be confident, and just practice. I think a lot of your guilt, frustration, and powerlessness will go away. It takes practice and commitment and fortitude through a little discomfort. It's worth it in the end.

    I like you very much. I don't think bitches are this sensitive, thoughtful, and intelligent ;)

    Get some new shoes! You deserve it. If you let your heel heal you will be stronger afterwards. Focus on diet, sleep, mental health, and happiness. When you're healed the physical stuff can come then. Diet is a huge part of getting in shape. HUGE.

    You can do this!

    1. Maybe practicing will help. I agonize, AGONIZE over doing something that I know will make someone mad at me (at work this happens a lot, which is why I have little desire to take on a supervisory role), so maybe I need to practice doing it tactfully and then not care what someone thinks. You are so, so kind to me and I really do appreciate that.

  6. I can't add much to Pish. She's a great support. I will say one thing. The example you used about the half & half - the person who brought you milk instead is a passive-aggressive personality. Sometimes it helps to recognize different defects (as that is absolutely what passive-aggressive is). For that particular personality the best thing is to stay way, but if that's not possible recognize that it's them, and that you are not demanding to expect them to do what they said they would. But they rarely do, and then they turn it around on you. I'm talking about one specific personality type - not your son who knows how to push your buttons. I totally get how you feel miserable when you try to stick up for yourself. I'm that way too. But, lately I've been sticking up for myself - I'm older than you are so have hope - and it's been a positive adventure. I don't yell and scream just state my case. I've gotten to know you a bit from you blog, and you are a kind, generous, sensitive person. It's them - not you! One day you'll tell them exactly that.

    1. There's definitely some passive-aggression mixed with laziness going on with some people I know. The person who pushed me over the edge last week (the one who asked me about something and then brought it to someone else), didn't want to do the work I told her needed to be done. She involved someone else known for helping (meaning doing stuff for others) because I wasn't going to do her work for her. And then I was seen as the one who didn't want to help because others were pitching in. There was just no need for a group effort, you know? And then yes, she told me I was wrong for thinking she wanted me to do stuff for her. I ended up apologizing and that made me furious. Thanks for such a thoughtful and kind post. It means a lot!

  7. You are doing great! We all get stuck in mental struggles and this one will pass. And this is not it for you!! I worry about that, too, especially because I'm still not married and don't have the kids that I want. But I can't let myself feel defeated, because we never know what is just around the corner.

    I had to take a week off the Couch to 5k because of my plantar fasciitis. I didn't want to, but it seemed if I kept running on it, it was never going to heal. Taking the time to heal is what will help you to be able to do this long term.

    We'll do this!!

    1. I hope you're feeling better. My tendon feels worse today and I didn't walk yesterday. I am so bad at resting.

      When I'm feeling positive, I'm right there with you about not knowing what's next so we have to keep going. I'm sure that there is so much wonderful ahead of both of us.

      Thank you for such a kind comment!!

  8. Hi Michelle.

    11 pounds is pretty damned good!

    I work on a farm and it used to be with my dad. When he passed away, I felt like the whole world was watching the decisions that I was left to make to see when I would fail. It nearly destroyed me. I couldn't make the decisions that I needed to make, trying to figure out what others were thinking about them.

    In the end, the only decision that needed to be made was the best one I could make. What anyone else thought didn't really matter at all.

    After that, a lot of my anxiety went away. Hope that makes some sense? I think you're doing wonderful.

    1. I'm sorry about your Dad. I can only imagine the difficulty of working the farm on your own when you were used to his guidance.

      Not worrying what others are thinking is a hard thing to learn how to do. I'm glad you've been able to do that. I try, but it doesn't always work. I'll keep trying.

      Thank you for your comment!