Friday, December 16, 2011

Quicksand of Feelings

Image courtesy of mn-que
I was thrashing about in an emotional pit of quicksand. As I wildly kicked at feelings of depression, annoyance, frustration and hurt, I sank deeper into the sludge of negative emotions.

In September, I enthusiastically and whole-heartedly began a year-long blogging project. On A Rheumful of Tips, I share an assortment of tips, tricks, techniques and strategies that document how I've moved through thirty-four years of living life with rheumatoid arthritis.

By providing an intimate look at how I live with this disease, my goal is to inspire people to live their life well, in spite of a devastating diagnosis. 

It sounds good so far, right?

You see, I was getting mired by things over which I had little or no control. 

Before I go on, I'd like to share a definition of stress with which I like to work. Then, I'll explain how I used it as a "big stick" to help me move onto solid ground.

Stress is your interpretation of external events that causes internal distortion or strain. How you feel determines whether or not the stress response is triggered - a cascade of fourteen-hundred chemicals that flood your body, prepping it for flight, fight or freeze. By learning to treat the cause of your stress, not just the symptoms, you can transform our stress.

Problem
I was getting bogged down (internal strain) by my interpretation of what I thought should be happening with my blog by this point in time. My readership was something over which I had no control (an external event). 

Fortunately, I soon recognized that I was feeling disappointment. I was doing the best I could by sharing a part of my life that I don't typically discuss in such detail - three-hundred and sixty-five days worth of details! I was condensing thirty-four years of my life into one year. It seemed that my common-sense strategies for living with a disease that is debilitating wasn't of much interest to many people.

Hurt Solution
Quit! After all, I know these strategies, so why spend so much time blogging about them, if it doesn't matter?

Heart Solution
Undress my stress! I did a heart-based stress technique that helps to bring the nervous system back into balance. This then enabled me to make a better and more informed decision - one that was not made from the position of stress. In my case, the negative emotions I felt - disappointment, frustration, hurt - only contributed to more of the same. I was up to my neck in it!

I gained several insights from doing the technique: 
  1. Continue on with A Rheumful of Tips because I am helping the readers I do have. 
  2. It takes time to gain a readership.
  3. Recognize that I am in over-care, which impacts the quality of my writing. 
Now, you may be thinking that these are common-sense solutions. Indeed they are! Remember, that stinkin' stress thinkin' often results in far-from-common-sense self-talk.

Your turn
Are you able to recall examples of when your stinkin' stress thinkin' caused you to sink even deeper in the pit of despair? What changed it for you?

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5 comments:

  1. Oh Marianna,

    I'm sorry that you experienced this stress...how kind of you to share your story and also how you worked your way through it :)

    You are absolutely right in how an "obvious" solution is not at all clear when one is in the midst of an upsetting event. It is only when one can take a breath and step away that one can see things clearly and then come up with a thoughtful response.

    In fact, this is the reason that many meditation experts and neuroscientists are now advocating for mindfulness meditation - it helps you maintain this nonjudgmental stance even in the midst of a stressful event.

    Back to your actual scenario, I would like to second points 1 and 2 on your list. You are definitely an inspiration to your current readers and it really does take time to build up one's readership, particularly when one is looking for a very targeted niche.

    Secondly, I'm wondering if it may help you to cut down on the frequency with which you blog on your Rheumful of Tips so as not to overburden yourself.

    It sounds like you have a lot on your plate and perhaps committing to a daily blog was too tall of an order (that was not absolutely necessary).

    Wishing you all the best in health, happiness and blogging for the new year!

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  2. Your post resonates with me with exactly the same experience of lack of interest for the subject that I chose to concentrate on in my blog. I thought that I could share significant insights with young managers but the interest was zilch. I dropped the whole idea and went on to create the present blog with its fairly regular readership and I am comfortable with that. I however do not recall getting stressed with the failure of the first attempt.

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  3. Marianna, you help people more than you can know. It takes a lot of courage to put oneself on display, especially with such a personal touch. From that others gleam strength and purpose - even if they don't always acknowledge the source. Your sense of involvement in the well-being of others is what prompted you to share in the first place. Your personal sources of success, of overcoming physical and emotional hurdles, the little - and big - things that made a difference in your life. They all added up to too much not to share. How sad that the wealth of your experiences and insight has become a daily burden. While I would miss my daily email tip from Marianna, having read your blog piece today, I would much rather look forward to an email that comes occasionally from the heart than one written under statistical duress.

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  4. Dorlee,
    Thanks for your kind words and offer of help. I actually have quite a few posts in various degrees of completion in the wings.

    The purpose of this post was to demonstrate how stress can cloud our vision and how we can work through it.

    I've also added:
    4. Looking 365 - actually 270 - days from now, I'll feel quite good about having accomplished what I set out to do.

    Thank you for your concern and friendship.

    Ramana,
    How far along were you in your first blog before you changed course?

    Kathrin,
    Thank you for your encouragement and support.

    I debated before hitting "publish", wondering whether it was wise to share my worries. Having a change of heart makes all the difference - in the way I view the challenge of a daily blog and the way I write each post.

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  5. About fifteen blog posts over a period of about six weeks before I quit.

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