I currently have two seemingly unrelated thoughts swirling around in my head. Now to see if I can connect the dots. I
beg encourage you to read until the end, no matter how much you want to run away … I want your opinions!
I just recently started going to a therapist. I decided that I deserve to be happy. Before my first session, I had many doubts. Doubts that she could make sense of my jumbled thoughts. Doubts that she could help me. But, I am just beginning to see the light. And, it feels good.
I have some depression and unresolved grief. That part is easy for me to understand the why’s of … even if I cannot exactly figure out how to help myself. (My therapist … let’s call her C, said we will get to that part later.) But, how I went from a competent, confident nurse to someone unable to hold a job of any kind due to anxiety is really beyond my comprehension. By breaking down my life into pieces, C has helped me to identify when it all started and how it all began to control me. A bunch of tears & a few panic attacks later, I learned that THAT was the simple part.
In the quest to find out my underlying issues, C has decided that due to some very negative influences in my life by some very judgmental (keep that word in mind because we will get back to that) people, followed by things that I see as “failures” in my life, I have begun to let their thoughts and actions sway my confidence, let their comments form my new negative self image and my supposed failures are all my anxiety needed to prove to me that these people are right. Wow!
So here is where I am at. (If you could care less where I am at and want to get on with the next part of this post, go to ** below) I have one central theme that begins controlling my thoughts. These thoughts are recurring but can change from day to day. As I obsess on these thoughts, my anxiety increases. In my home environment, my “safe” place, getting a handle on those thoughts turned out to be relatively quick. When my thought of the day began, I would acknowledge it and then write it all down. I call it giving the thought a voice. I would also write out my counter argument and then I give myself permission to let that thought go. For me, that has worked pretty well. One example from this past week, I had a best friend from the time that I was able to climb over the fence to her house. We were in the same grade and we were inseparable … until 6th grade. Out of the blue, she dumped me for a new best friend. It was tough for me. I guess I never really got over that hurt. I have often questioned what I did wrong. Was I not good enough? I still have dreams to this day of her talking to me and then in the middle she will just walk off and join a large group of people talking and laughing. I can feel the same childhood hurt all over again. So, for this scenario, I wrote down in detail the events surrounding the ending of our friendship. I wrote down how it made me feel. I wrote down the questions I would love to ask her ( but don’t really want to know the answers to). And then I wrote about all of the fun that we had and the joys that I had from being her friend. When I think of her now, I try to focus on the great parts of our friendship instead of the hurt. So far, so good.
The process involved in the environment outside of my home, more specifically job related, has not been so easy. Let’s say my mind is focused on a job as a cashier. My thoughts may cycle around “What if my drawer is short cash?” C’s answer is “So what?” When I tried my hand at working behind a seafood counter, I had a lot of problems hearing anyone due to the noise levels of all of the equipment. I felt like the other employees were watching my every move, judging me. C’s answer, “So what?” The answers to the question, “So what?” should not be so anxiety inducing when the stakes are not life or death. But, what about with nursing? What happens if I give the wrong medication? What happens if I treat the wrong patient? What happens if I make a mistake that I cannot fix? What if someone dies because of me? We are human, we make mistakes. But in all of those cases, “so what?” is a big deal! I know as a nurse, I am conscientious. I know that I do all of my double and triple checks. I know that I truly care about my patients. I know that I would never knowingly do something to hurt someone. But, “what if?’ has plagued my thoughts. It has shaken my confidence. It has made me question my purpose now that nursing seems like a lifetime ago.
** Now back to our word … judgmental. Before we go on, I feel a definition is in order. Miriam – Webster defines it as …
:tending to judge people too quickly and critically :of, relating to, or involving judgment
Recently in the news, there was a story about a Mom being photographed breastfeeding her baby in a restaurant. The poster of the picture made a comment about having to see this while eating his meal and with kids around. (I am not debating the issue of breastfeeding in public. I am also not debating the posting of a photo of a minor.) This Mom apparently was very adamant about receiving an apology for posting the photo and about the photo being removed. I cannot even begin to explain how I would have felt if this picture had been of me. But, how is this different from facebook friends posting photos of random people they see that are acting weird, dressed crazy or doing something extreme while they are out & about in their daily life? Or what about all of those People of Walmart posts? When did it become ok to judge people with or without all of the facts and then publicly call them out on it? Maybe people are dirty because they used their last dollar to buy their child food instead of a bar of soap. Maybe someone’s clothes are too small because their clothes burned in a fire and that is all that was donated to them. Maybe when you went out thinking you were dressed nicely someone else thought you looked hideous and posted your photo?
I will admit that I am guilty of occasionally forming negative opinions about those I come in contact with. But, before I speak or act on those thoughts, I try to determine if my thoughts need action or are they better off remaining just thoughts. I fail sometimes. But, I vow to never knowingly cause someone else undue anxiety or embarrassment for my own amusement.
If you made it this far, thank you! Now, for discussion … Most people form ideas or have opinions about other’s based on their dress or their speech or their actions. But what turns a seemingly harmless thought in your mind into a harsh judgment? When is it ok to speak whatever is on your mind without thought to the other person’s well being? Without thought to what is legally allowed, do you think it’s ok to post people’s photos without their knowledge on social media sites with your seemingly funny or negative comments? Would you be mad or think it was funny if you found a unflattering photo of yourself with a harsh comment on a facebook post?