Happy New Year! I know you’ve had plenty of people tell you about goal setting, so I am not going to bore you with how to set goals or resolutions today. Today, I am telling you another true story.
A client of mine, we’ll call her Jane, called me the other day with a burning question for me, and it took on an interesting twist. She started off by telling me about a guy friend of hers that she had worked with in the past. Steve, as we’ll call him, lives in another city. They talk via phone every now and then and text frequently. Over the past month the text messages started to take on a different tone because he started expressing how he was attracted to her and thinks about her often. Receiving these text messages made Jane begin to wonder if she was into him or not. She checked in with herself and decided that she was interested.
They chatted on the phone about 2 weeks ago and decided that they would meet up for a weekend to see one another and decide how they really felt. They picked a weekend and Steve said he would follow up with her once he bought the plane tickets. Jane was excited to see where this might go. She wasn’t totally sold on Steve being the “one” for her, but she was willing to see what was there because there was definitely chemistry.
A week rolled by and he hadn’t followed up with Jane. Jane got thoroughly pissed at his lack of follow through. She said to me, “I just started retreating into my head. I was angry and emotional, but then I also kept telling myself I SHOULD (bad word) give him space and stay calm.”
We have all been there, battling ourselves and wondering how we should react when the ball feels like it is in HIS court, right?!
So, then she said something I wasn’t expecting. She said, “The truth is that I don’t really care if Steve comes or not. I just don’t want to feel like I can’t express myself and get stuck in my head for days over it. I have been told by so many self help books that being angry is not okay, so I was trying to send him some love, but it really wasn’t helping me get out of my head.”
I immediately responded to Jane, “Of course it wasn’t helping you because you were layering blaming yourself for getting pissed and then blaming yourself for being pissed. It is totally normal to get angry- it’s human and it is much better to express your anger in a healthy way then to bottle it up and let it sit within you.”
I then had an intuitive hit because I sensed that all the blame she was placing on herself for being angry had very little to do with this circumstance (it never is). So I asked her, “When you were growing up, did you feel like your mom was emotional and angry a lot?” She replied, “Yes totally. We had a lot of arguments when I was growing up. I always saw her as being weak because she couldn’t control her emotions. My dad was the total opposite- calm, rational and I loved that about him.”
A light bulb went off in my head. It became clear to me that the reason she was harping on not being able to express herself was because she totally judged her mom for being overly emotional while growing up, and as soon as she was triggered by Steve, she judged herself for getting overly emotional, making it hard to express herself.