A few months ago, I woke up to my girl posse decking-out a table with champagne mimosas, all kinds of food, and presents. My Facebook page was brimming with birthday messages, and my phone had an array of text messages. But, by mid-afternoon, my phone did not contain a birthday message from my boyfriend. I sent him a “Hi, hope you and the kids are having a good day” text – and his reply was sweet, as usual. But it was obvious. He had forgotten my birthday. I was pissed! How can a person who loves you so dearly not remember such a day?! The whole fucking world remembered, but not my boyfriend?! Clearly, the world should stop turning. Clearly my boyfriend was sub-par. Clearly, I should be hurt. Offended. Miffed.
I sent my boyfriend a text telling him I was angry and sad. Believe me, I let him have it. And he felt bad. He apologized. And then we made up and texted about how we’d planned to celebrate the day after my birthday, when I got home from the trip.
After I’d made my boyfriend feel bad, I felt better. Or did I? I stood up for myself and told him how I felt. I told him what was important to me. Right?
I’m such a little bitch.
A few days later, I realized I’d made a mistake. A mistake I’ve been making a lot throughout my life. A mistake that most of us make over and over and over and over and over again. We hurt our own feelings. What? Yes. We hurt our own feelings.
And I did this to myself after I’d been listening to hours and hours of podcasts about how our thoughts create our feelings. Clearly, I had not been practicing.
Here’s what happened (on paper):
Circumstance: My boyfriend forgot it was my birthday.
Thoughts: Seriously, he’s making pancakes and playing on his iPad and can’t be bothered with thoughts about what day it is. Jerk. Everyone else on the planet remembered my birthday!
Feelings: I’m pissed. And I’m sad. And frustrated.
Action: I’m gonna tell him that I’m sad and angry.
Result: He felt bad and I did too. Wasted a few hours feeling bad during a vacation.
After this happened I was reading a book about self-coaching. I realized what went wrong. Oops. Here’s how I could have made that day much better for myself (and my boyfriend).
Circumstance: My boyfriend forgot it was my birthday.
Thoughts: We’ve made plans to celebrate tomorrow when I get home. He forgot it’s today, so I’ll stealthily remind him by sending a text about the birthday breakfast the girl posse had for me.
Feelings: Happy and grateful
Action: Send text and pic from birthday breakfast saying “I can’t wait to see you tomorrow.”
Result: He writes back “Happy Birthday hot ass” along with something profane about what he’s gonna give me for my birthday. Both of us are smiling.
Yes, of course, it would be great if everyone did what we think they should do. But we already know that ain’t happening. So we cause ourselves a lot of suffering by making things MEAN something that hurts our own feelings.
When my boyfriend didn’t wake up and immediately text me a birthday wish, here’s what part of my brain made it mean:
He doesn’t love me like he should.
He doesn’t think about me enough.
I’m not enough of a priority in his life.
He’s only thinking of himself.
WHAT A LOAD OF BULL SHIT!
I’m not gonna bore you too much with brain crap, but let’s just say this is coming from the part of my brain that is trying to keep me safe. Trying not to get hurt. I call this part of me, the “little bitch.” And I tell her thanks for showing up, I know she’s got my back. And I give her a kiss on the cheek. I love her. She’s a loyal friend. She’s been really hurt in the past. And I know I shouldn’t call her names. But she shows up too often. And often, she is wrong. So, I need to send her packing most of the time. Because she keeps me stalled.
So lately, the other Dawn has been showing up. The real me. The part of me that can think better thoughts. Higher-order thinking me. The part of me that knows all the joy and happiness in the world.
I know that my boyfriend has me as a top priority. He is one of the most caring people I know. For almost two years I have seen him interact with me, his kids, his ex-wife, my kids, his friends, and his peers – and there is NOTHING that would lead me to believe that he is anything short of a caring and thoughtful person.
Yet, on my birthday, I chose to hurt my own feelings. My brain grabbed for the shit-ass feelings instead of the ones that would make me feel better. I literally caused my own suffering.
Do you do this to yourself? Are you offended easily? Do you think it could be because of what you are making things MEAN?
Maybe you can find yourself in some of these scenarios.:
My neighbor/brother/co-worker said I wasn’t disciplining my son the right way. Who does he think he is? He wears socks with sandals and his kids are next in line for the Darwin awards.
Soccer mom/friend-of-a-friend/cousin said “Maybe I should spend a little less time watching Netflix and a little more time hitting the gym.” Trollope. Maybe she should spend less money getting collagen injections. Bitch.
My father/mother/favorite uncle said I wasn’t advancing in my career as quickly as they’d hoped. When they were my age they already owned a house and had two kids! I have to admit I kinda feel like a failure. I try to explain that things are different nowadays, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. If I get this promotion I can show my father that I am a success.
Anyway, all of those things above can be worked out to the point where you don’t feel bad. You can feel okay and even good. Happy. But it’s mental work for YOU and it takes practice.
It took me listening to a shit ton of free podcasts. Here is one that will help. You can read the info and start listening yourself. This is just one. I’ve been listening and practicing for months.
Hope it helps.
Thanks Brooke Castillo!