Well, this has been a mixed week. On the one hand, I’ve been settling in more and more at work, taking on more projects and getting synched up with my team and the larger department.
I’m making good progress, and it feels great.
On the other hand, I’ve been very erratic at home, perhaps because of the pressure I’m feeling about this new job, making sure I don’t screw up, and keeping my facts straight. I’ve noticed a few times, already, that I’ve gotten facts and figures turned around — not for lack of trying… I was really trying to get it right — and now those incidents are looming large in my head, taking up space and making me feel like crap.
Which hasn’t been helping at home. I’ve been volatile and cranky and have blown up a few times over the past week. And my spouse is only too happy to spend most of the day away from me today. They’ve got a job they’re doing later today, so they get to be with their “posse” while I spend some quiet time at home getting my act together, catching up with myself, moving at my own pace, etc.
Some good has actually come out of this fairly challenging week. Both of us have been looking at our behavior and our parts in the fights and squabbles, and we’re both taking responsibility for our less-than-helpful habits. Both of us know it takes two to tangle, and we both know that we’re each as high-strung as the other, at times. We both have our issues, and at least we’re both willing to take steps to do something about our behavior.
And we’ve been deliberately mindful of our interactions, in the aftermath of the electrical storms. We’re both making an extra effort to be responsible and not fly off the handle over every little thing. Unlike times in the past, this week, we’ve been able to rebound and treat each other with dignity and respectful consideration, which is really the cornerstone of any healthy relationship, whatever its nature.
Bottom line is, we know we’re both better than how we’ve been acting. We’re not total jerks, but we do really good impressions of them at times 😉 The thing to remember, is that what we do and what we say is not who we are. We’re much better than that. And we know it.
I guess that’s the main thing — knowing who you are and realizing that you’re capable of a lot more (and better things) than you are currently engaged in. There are all sorts of strategies one can apply to motivate oneself to better behavior — thinking about what’s in it for you, if you do such-and-such… thinking about how you want your life to be and deciding if what you’re doing now is going to help you get there… having compassion for those you’re dealing with and being willing to extend them the respect they deserve.
Those are all great, and they work for a lot of people. But in my case, that’s a lot more thinking and a lot more abstract than I care to get on a regular basis. For me, it boils down to What sort of person am I… really? And would that sort of person be doing this sort of thing at this point in time? What kind of character do I have, and what principles matter most to me in life? Am I acting in a way that honors those principles and is a true reflection of my character — or the character I seek to develop.
Now, I know that the whole “character” discussion is not something people often talk about. But it matters to me. It matters a whole lot to me. What other people do and how they behave is one thing. It’s not my concern. But how I act and what I do, is my concern. It’s a big one, too. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, maybe I’m just a throwback to the last century when these things mattered a whole lot more than they do now. But the bottom line is, character matters. My character matters. And when I keep that uppermost in my mind, it keeps me out of the mire.
Another thing that keeps me out of the muck of self-destructive behaviors, is realizing that as important as character is to me, my brain has been jumbled up enough to want to go off and do its own thing. And it’s up to my mind to keep my brain from derailing my life.
I share Dan Siegel’s belief that the main is a guiding force that directs energy and information throughout the system, and the brain is the organ that generates and conducts energy and information. Brain and mind are not the same. Character and behavior are not necessarily equivalent. They are connected, but behavior can go off the rails temporarily without making a permanent statement about my underlying character.
No matter what I do, no matter how badly things go for me, no matter how many things I confuse or how often facts get turned around, the bottom line is, I’m a good person who wants to do right. If I weren’t… if I were a total jerk and a-hole, the problems I have wouldn’t even bother me. I’d just go on with my life, as though none of it mattered.
But it does matter to me. And I know I can do better. So long as I keep trying, I always have the opportunity to show — yet again — that I am better than the things that try to bring me down.