These last two months have been mental torture for me. I can't think of any other time in my life where I've felt so sad, so alone or so lost. I've had to pull out tools to stabilize my life. Things like daily journaling, reading, exercise, acupuncture, music, affirmations, counseling, support from friends, and even turning to a higher power.
I've pinpointed that the process started in October during my Conflict Resolution and Negotiation Class. My cohort went in there expecting to learn about dealing with conflict in the work place. BAM! Little did we know we would be working from the ground up and learning how we personally deal with conflict. Learning about ourselves and how to handle conflict with those we care about most was the best place to start.
Despite its negative connotation, conflict doesn't equate to bad. Conflict means that you care enough to confront what is going on. We started out by digging into the past and writing about our earliest memories of conflict. I identified that conflict for me is like a grenade, I build it up, then pull the pin, resulting in a feeling that I need to run before my surroundings blow up. We also had to interview several people about how it is to communicate with us. I asked my mom, husband, and office mate. To summarize, they said I'm very direct, to the point, raise my voice when I'm passionately speaking, and often times dismiss others' views if they don't match up with my own. I don't disagree.
The first night of class we were introduced to the idea that many of us have a hard time identifying and sharing what is really bothering us; being vulnerable. We use superficial things in an argument to mask our feelings. This video is an example of what we were discussing. My professor's example was much better, and we'll never think of a pie in the same way again. Our homework was to think about what was really bothering us. I had a great example come up. I had been sick for days and just wanted my husband to comfort me and take care of me. I got upset and started going off about how he is always playing video games and doesn't' help me. I had to go into the other room, force myself to think about what was really bothering me, then go back and talk to him. I didn't want to continue on with him thinking I was really mad about the video games, when my real needs were that I needed to feel like I was a priority and loved.
This was new for us and didn't go as smoothly as I imagined. I didn't seem like we made any progress, but little did I know it was all part of a greater process. I had no idea why I was so tired and drained after talking, but I soon discovered it's called a vulnerability hangover. Something interesting my professor pointed out; although I'm direct in stating my needs, I often run before giving anyone the chance to meet those needs. I thought it was great observation and I completely agree that I doubt people pretty early on of being capable of meeting my needs. I like to do things myself and I set really high standards.
That was the first notable step in this process, I'll be writing several more posts about what unfolded. Like I said, I never expected it to take so long and go full blown, but I feel good about what is happening and if this first step never took place I wouldn't be on my way to a better life.
My professor has a blog called Canffirmations that has some really great posts if you're interested in reading.