The kids I’m frustrated with aren’t the problem. They’re going to behave imperfectly. The problem is my Mind Movie, my ideal, that they should behave considerately and quietly, not make mistakes, never make messes. In other words, I somehow have an ideal that they won’t behave like human beings, and I am tightly attached to that deal. This attachment causes me to struggle with how things are, with how they’re behaving, instead of accepting that people will behave imperfectly.“Essential Zen Habits” by Leo Babauta
I practiced dancing with you a few months ago, but I only just now started to realize how much you still have me.
I find it funny how the virtue of my personality type is non-attachment. And this morning when I was reviewing my notes, I was reminded that bad health leads my personality type to tend towards excess and anticipation. I think that’s a pretty fitting description, and a pretty clear indicator of where my mental health is right now.
I’m attached to the idea that in order to buy an apartment, I need to have some methodical process of comparing apartments, or at least determining whether an apartment is good to purchase. The impact of this is that I get stressed when people ask me for my opinion about an apartment (I can say things I like or dislike about it, but I don’t know how to answer “Do you want to buy this?” and then I feel incompetent like I’m letting them down or not meeting their expectations); I get anxious because I have no way of evaluating whether a decision is good or not; and I get frustrated when people share opinions with me that don’t add up to previous opinions because I’m trying to figure out that methodical process and now I’ve been thrown a piece of the puzzle that doesn’t fit anywhere.
I’m attached to the idea that there must be a more rational choice between renting a place or buying a place, and that my actions must be in alignment with that correct answer. Sometimes I hear that renting is just throwing money away. Sometimes I hear about special assessments or massive and sudden increases to insurance and maintenance fees. Whenever I hear these types of things that contrasts to the direction I’m currently headed, I get confused and anxious about whether I’m making the right decision, and I get sad because I feel lost and because I feel like I’m going to make the wrong decision.
I’m attached to the idea that therapists or counsellors are meant to validate/recognize feelings but challenge thoughts. The impact of this is that I get frustrated when my therapist agrees with a thought process I have that is leading to an unfavourable emotional reaction. It also means I become less trusting or more skeptical about their professionalism, even though I can recognize I don’t have a good grasp of how their role works. And I guess I catch myself blaming them afterwards, because I feel worse when they confirm my thought process leading to the negative emotional reaction, when I was looking to them to help find the flaw in my thinking.
I’m attached to the idea that there is some way/level I am at work, and that everyone sees me in that same way or at that same level. The impact of this is that I get sad when I get positive feedback from coworkers that isn’t reflected in my job title. I also blame my manager or the number of manager changes or lack of fluidity between manager changes for the discrepancy between how they see me versus how other people see me. And I get confused, sad, and frustrated when I don’t know where I stand because I’m hearing conflicting things from different people.
I’m attached to the idea that commuting shouldn’t take up a third of my day. I choose not to do a lot of activities because I know that the commute between everything adds up quite quickly, which leads to me feeling sad, anxious, and hopeless. I also get frustrated when I can’t focus during my commute or when my commute is crowded because then I feel like I’m not able to make the most of my time commuting to minimize the time impact. It’s also leading me to make rash decisions that should be considered more carefully because I’m stressed about living so far away from my work, friends, sports, etc.
Perhaps one of my strongest and longest and held attachments is to this ideal about what a relationship should look like. (Unfortunately, this also seems to be the source of many of my greatest emotional reactions.) When I think that someone’s hiding something from me or not communicating openly with my, I get anxious because I’m attached to the idea that people in relationships must be great at communicating honestly with each other. The moment I start to think something won’t last in the long term, I get anxious because I’m attached to the idea that relationships aren’t fleeting. When I hear about people participating in things like hook-ups, I get sad and anxious because then I think that there aren’t people who share my idea of a relationship.
I guess I’m also not surprised the vice of my personality type is greed. I feel like I always need to know things. I always need more information. I always need to understand. I always need something that make me feel secure in my attachments.
I’m debating getting a temporary tattoo thing to help keep this front of mind for me. If I practice recognizing my attachments, maybe I’ll be able to prevent myself from falling into one of my emotional death spirals.