Monday, July 29, 2013
Four Steps to Dealing With Discomfort
Oh, we can go on "retreat" but life is still out there when we return. Real solitude is hard to come by for the average person, and even worse, stress and solitude rarely simply drop conveniently into the same time slot, so that you can use your hour of solitude to deal with stress.
Now it gets personal. I'm not calling the feeling "stress", but irritation, which is a stepping stone to resentment, which rapidly devolves to stress and even anger.
I woke up with a migraine. The right half of my head was entertaining the percussion section of the Boston Symphony. Even with my eyes closed I could see an artery pulsing in my right eye. The cats were pummeling the bedroom door and squalling. I wanted to go back to sleep but my close personal friend, Ms. Bladder, said "No I don't believe we will be doing that."
As I opened the bedroom door and stumbled out the cats raced for their respective food dishes and waited, all appetite and expectation. Both their dishes have dried and crusted food from last night caked around the edges, where kitty mouths have trouble reaching.
With my bladder screeching, NOW NOW, NOW I scraped the bowls out into the garbage, washed each with the brush and soap, rinsed them, and opened the fridge to find no cat food. Off to the pantry, where I got a can for each (one eats only tuna, one eats only chicken). The cats wound around my feet, the older one nuzzling me, the little one threatening to tear my legs off. I fed each one, and headed for the bathroom, noting that my husband was in his chair in the living room, oblivious, playing a computer game.
The irritation I woke with turned to resentment. He's waiting for his coffee. He's waiting for me to make it, pour it, sweeten it, put in the cream and cinnamon in it and carry it to him. Yesterday he held the cup and waved his arms around while he complained about some ad which irritated him on the TV, and in the process he slopped coffee all over the floor. I tossed him a towel to pick it up with and while he was picking the one puddle of coffee off the floor with his left hand he spilled more coffee with his right, because he hadn't put the cup down. The floor is now a great bloody mess, and I know mopping it later will give me another migraine. Thinking about it now resentment begins to stir…
At once I realize that I need to calm down:
1) I reassured myself that this will pass. The migraine (and the irritation which accompanies my migraines) will respond to the medication I took moments earlier. I just need to be patient and avoid expressing my irritation until the pills take effect. (I am not always successful at this. It takes a good deal of work.)
2) I remind myself that my husband is perfectly willing to make the coffee but he makes it too weak for my taste. I make it strong and dilute his with a bit of hot water, so I prefer to make it myself. So I cannot justify my irritation that he has not made coffee. (Makes "loco" sign around own ear here.) And accidents happen, with coffee and other things. You don't upset yourself by attaching blame to accidents, you simply clean them up and go on.
3) While I cannot meditate for an hour, I can drop into a single moment of silence which serves to calm me. And while the feeling of irritation remains, it does not need to be acted on, or imposed on others.
4) I take responsibility: While it's important not to let others destroy my inner peace, it's just as important to take control of my own feelings and not let them destroy my inner peace. Speaking in irritation only increases the level of irritation, and creates anger and discord. Controlling one's speech muscles and speaking to others in peaceful and positive ways increases your feelings of well-being and happiness.