keskiviikko 26. helmikuuta 2014

Day 390: Submitting to aggression


I've come across yet another interesting pattern of self-judgement. I faced a moment at work where I purposefully left a piece of mess for the morning shift to clean up, of which I sent them a message in advance to warn them about it. I was a bit worried about leaving it there, but because I had cleaned the rest of the bar well and even better than usual, I shoved the incidence out of my mind and forgot about it.

Today I received a message from the manager giving me feedback about it, telling me that a mess like that should be cleaned by the evening shift and giving me directions for the cleaning equipment required for it. The message was clear and direct – not hostile or aggressive in any way – yet I reacted to it quite strongly. I instantly started telling myself that I had “fucked up” and “made a mistake”. I went through the situation and saw how I could have done things in a different way, possibly not gaining any different results, but at least trying my best. Basically, I tried to make myself feel better about myself by pointing out all the things I did and have done well, while simultaneously putting myself down by thinking that with this single task “I didn't do my best” because I reasoned out that I don't have to, that I can cut myself some slack. So it was as if I was both whipping and caressing myself at the same time, lol.

I discussed this a bit with the manager now, and because his response was that of common sense, I realized that I was acting very submissive, apologizing and child-like. (Thank you, world, for managers that aren't abusive assholes!) It was like I had lost all self-respect and dignity – like an utterly humbled and broken child. This is a highly interesting facet of myself to see, because my self-image, or self-ideal, is one of an “independent, willful woman”. I would like to be strong and see myself as strong, when in fact I am not, at least in some ways. I have weak spots.

I am not sure where I have learned this pattern of only searching for my value in other people's responses. This isn't anything I would have been actively taught at home, because my family was quite laid back. My best guess is that when entering primary school I got completely sucked into its disciplinary system. I knew none of the kids from before and to me they all appeared to already know each other from preschool; my teachers were idols to me and I yearned for their approval, especially after facing what it's like to not be in their favour. So in order to gain standing in the eyes of my peers and authorities I learned to play the “game of schooling”: doing what I was told to get the best rewards.

It is fascinating to see just how broken I am after a confrontation like this. There was nothing aggressive or purposefully hurtful about it, and yet I crumbled. It's very close to the “good student dilemma” I wrote about recently, where I want to be the “good employee” and thus live within constant strain, as if I was constantly stretching myself from opposite ends while looking around for signs of approval. The anticipation of “did I do something wrong?” met with the feedback today makes for misinterpretations and flipping out.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to misinterpret my employer's message to be blaming and angry by creating an image in my mind the night before about him finding the mess and getting angry at me for not cleaning it up, him blaming me for not doing something that's not his responsibility but mine, thus seeing this image in my mind when I read the message and fitting the message with the image – not realizing that my perception of the message was already fucked because of the image I had crafted out of fear.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to believe it is valid for another person to feel angry when they need to do something “unfair” (clean up a mess that's not theirs), thus taking the blame for not doing it for them, not realizing that cleaning up the mess in question wouldn't have been “fair” for me either because I didn't cause it – and that essentially there is nothing that is “fair” or “unfair” in this world as we are all a part of the same organism that has created and will create itself and the circumstances it's within: we're all a part of a species that allows its members to get drunk enough to puke all over bathroom floors, so somebody's got to clean that shit up.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to submit when somebody directs their anger at me – real or imagined! - thus accepting whatever accusations and demands if they seem in any way plausible to me.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to react to anger/aggression by submitting.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to fear anger and aggression.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to not see, realize and understand that anger and aggression are simply individuals' reactions to what there is and not valid feedback on myself.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to believe and perceive that anger and aggression are valid because I saw my father using them when I was a child.

When and as I see myself reacting to anger and/or aggression, I stop, I breathe and I search myself for any feelings of smallness, inadequacy and shame. I look at my thoughts and pinpoint what exactly I am thinking. I remind myself that I am not in school anymore, that no one can bully me anymore, that no one no longer has the power to decide my worth for me based on arbitrary demands. I check myself to see whether I am in fact imagining the anger/aggression, as this is what I am prone to do, or whether the aggression is actually there. I remind myself that anger/aggression are reactions to how a person experiences the reality and not necessarily valid statements of the reality itself, and that a person's emotional reaction is not an indicator of who I am but of the person him/herself. I breathe and I follow through the situation by focusing on my self-assessment.

I commit myself to stop being a floormat. (lol)

I commit myself to stop validating aggressive reactions by counter-reacting to them.

I commit myself to investigate how and why I create mental images where I am attacked, thus creating a fearful stance towards the world.

I commit myself to reconsider before I apologize.

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