I Am Choosing To Fake It Till I Make It
Thursday, July 11, 2013
I don’t know how many times in my life I’ve seen the saying ‘You choose your feelings’. Probably thousands. But it’s only been in the past few months that I have started to really ingest that idea and try to truly make it part of who I am.
The concept of choosing your feelings seems so foreign to me. It means when someone insults me, I’m supposed to choose how I want to react rather than instantly be angry. Or when someone hurts me, I’m supposed to choose how much and how long it will bother me rather than automatically burst into tears and hold a grudge forever. Or when a guy I’m into tells me he has stuff to work out and needs some time but that it doesn’t have anything to do with me, I can choose to believe him and be confident that it really has nothing to do with me or choose to feel like it really was me and it’s probably because I was too fat, forward, sarcastic, dumb (pick one…or several). Or when I didn’t get that promotion I so badly wanted, I could choose to mope about it, ‘eat’ about it, whine to all my friends and family and become a general b*tch at work to let everyone know how unhappy I was with the outcome or I can choose to accept that it’s not something I have control over and move on.
In the past few months I’ve been confronted with opportunities to make these choices about all of these things. And they have been SO HARD to make. And it’s not like I can make this choice and then forever-more am not bothered by it, reconsider it, rework it in my brain, think about it etc. I have to keep making that choice every time it comes back up. When that hurt, sadness, disappointment re-emerges in my psyche and says “hey, you should be pissed off about this – I can’t believe that happened to you”, that’s when it becomes the hardest. That’s when I have to tell myself, “No. You chose to look on the brighter side of things, to accept the things you cannot change and to look forward and not back. So stop thinking about it.” I have this struggle every day. But in spite of all the work it is to keep having that struggle, it’s infinitely more work to hold the grudge, stay disappointed, be sad, eat my feelings and then feel guilty for eating my feelings. I’m still struggling to emerge from this years-long depression era that was my mid-30s. And even that is something that runs through my head – that I wasted my 30s wallowing in misery and sadness. But instead, I’m reminding myself not to look back but to look forward. To imagine what could be in the years ahead and not what was. Because I can't go back anyway, I can only take the lessons I learned and use that knowledge for my future.
I admit that I wallowed in self-pity a bit after learning I didn’t get the job but by Saturday had decided to embrace my personal challenge to choose my feelings and to move on. On Monday morning, I looked at my vision board that I created for the BLC22 and in particular the saying that I had put front and center on it: “I am in charge of how I feel. And today I choose happiness.” I read that statement out loud (advantages to living alone – no one knows when you talk to yourself!) and then I walked out the door. I was choosing to be happy that day in spite of knowing I was heading to work where I would have to congratulate the guy who did get the promotion and keep working with him as we always have. And that’s what I did. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy but it instantly reset our working relationship to 'normal' mode. It made my co-worker relax because I could see him hesitating about how to act around me the second he came in. He shouldn’t feel bad about doing his best and being rewarded for it, I know I wouldn’t have.
Having said all this though, it still rears its ugly head. On Tuesday when I had the debrief with my boss about the interview etc. I let him know how I felt, how frustrated and disappointed I was, how the process was flawed etc. but then I told him that now that I had said what I wanted to say, I was done. And since then I haven’t mentioned it and I’m trying to maintain a positive attitude. As much as it sucked to come in 2nd, there is a consolation prize in that they are trying to get another position like it approved and when it does, I won’t have to compete for it as I was put 1st on the eligibility list. This again is something I can CHOOSE how I feel about it. It will probably take months for that to happen, so I could be pissed off about that too. But I am choosing not to be.
I am choosing to start thinking that the glass is half-full when I’ve traditionally seen it as half-empty. I am choosing to believe that I am awesome and that this guy or another one soon will agree. I am choosing light-heartedness, fun, happy, contentment and joy as my go-to moods and am working at banishing sadness, loneliness, disappointment, anger and general b*tchiness from my person.
I am choosing to make changes. Physically, mentally and emotionally. And it’s so hard, and so out of my comfort zone but I know it’s the only way I’m going to grow. And if I have to, I’ll fake it ‘till I make it.