Day 65

Changing My Situation: An Act of Cowardice or Self Love?

So, last time, I talked about sadness, and now I’ve discovered that beyond that sadness is a heck of a lot of anger. I am furious at my situation at work right now. I hate that when I am in the office I feel invisible. Aside from one other woman, my office is dominated by men. I am not used to so much testosterone in one place, and I feel like the energy that men give off is much more different than the energy that women give off. I feel really uncomfortable in that office, and really out of place. However, it is not that I am surrounded by men that puts me off, it’s that everyone in that office seems to be so close, and it just compounds the fact that I feel so alone. It really sucks.

The thing I hate the most is how they talk, or rather yell across the cubicles about the latest house party or trip to the bar they had. They are constantly talking about sports which is completely out of my realm of understanding or interest for that matter, and they are always collaborating on papers and presentations, which makes me feel even more excluded because on a number of occasions, I have asked them to collaborate on papers or classroom research and on all of the occasions except one, I have been turned down. I know these experiences are supposed to teach me something, but I am having a hard time with these particular lessons. I just end up feeling really unhappy when I am around these teachers.

When I get like this, I binge watch Teal Swan videos on YouTube. I feel like she’s speaking directly to me, and one of things that kept coming up in the videos that I watched today was the idea that its okay to want to change a crappy situation. I thought to myself, that perhaps the lesson that I am supposed to learn is that I need to change my situation. I’m tired of just accepting my fate and trying to see the positive aspects of situations that just plain suck. I do not like my work environment, and my social life is lacking big time, so I am not going to just sit quietly and take it. No! I am going to change my situation.

Fortunately, the teachers’ offices in my department are housed in two different buildings. The building that I am in has social lively teachers who like to talk about their drinking escapades and the latest Game of Thrones episode, and from what I’ve been told, the other building has more serious teachers. I’ve heard that it is a really good office to be in if you like the quiet. In addition, a good friend of mine who is currently on maternity leave is in that office now. Before, when I didn’t care much about myself or my feelings, I preferred to be in the lively office, but now that I am taking better care of myself and listening to what I need and want, I have found that I no longer like my office, and I want to get out of there as soon as possible.

However, I can’t help feeling like I’m escaping an uncomfortable situation rather than facing it and accepting it. In other words, I’m not gravitating to something more desirable but rather running away from something. There is a part of me that feels like leaving my current situation is the coward’s way out. Then I examine that thought. I ask myself, if you had a friend who was in the same situation would you encourage them to just tough it out and stay in the situation so that they can learn from it? No, absolutely not. So then why do you expect that of yourself? I suppose it is a remnant of the days, which were not that long ago, when I didn’t think much of myself. However, now, I am going to meet my needs without judgment.

In Teal’s most recent video, she talks about the law of attraction and how the purpose of our lives is for Source energy to expand, and that expansion happens through joy. As I understand it, because of the way the law of attraction works, we move toward our joy and what we want when we are faced with the contrast of our desires. In other words, if we enter the world with a desire to know love, we enter a situation in which we encounter its opposite, which according to Teal is fear. The way the universe works is to give us what we don’t want so that we will go towards what we do want. This is how I see the move to the other office. My current office is causing me pain, and to get relief from that pain, I am going to the other office. Whether or not I am going to face the same loneliness and isolation remains to be seen. However, at least I’m doing something to change my situation, which is at least a form of self care. We shall see how it goes.

Until next time, I wish you all the best.

 

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Day 64

On Sadness and Self-acceptance

Until recently, I’ve been critical of feeling sad. I am only now just beginning to accept that sometimes I feel sad. I am used to perceiving my sadness as an indication that there is something really wrong with me, as if I am somehow broken and irreparably damaged. Being sad meant I was weak and vulnerable and unworthy of love. I don’t like being sad, and in the past, whenever I felt even a hint of melancholy, I did my best to talk myself out of it and deny myself the opportunity to feel anything but happy. So although I have committed to being kinder to myself,  it is difficult to suspend judgment when I feel sad, lonely, or isolated.

Today I found myself on several occasions sadly sitting at my desk listening to my colleagues engaged in different conversations some of them work related while others were of a more personal nature. As I sat alone in my cubical, somewhat in my own little world, I tried to practice observing myself feeling a range of unpleasant emotions from sadness to irritation to loneliness. I fought the urge to tell myself that I shouldn’t feel those emotions and that I should think about all of the people in my life who love me. I fought the urge to suppress what I was going through as I listened to all the conversations going on around me. I wanted to escape, but to escape would be to abandon myself. So I sat there experiencing the pain, close to tears at times feeling silly and uncomfortable about feeling isolated and alone.

For the most part, I get along with my colleagues. I have pleasant conversations with them and most of my fellow teachers are warm and welcoming. So when I get this way, I wonder from where the emotions are coming. I observe them and their affect on me as they run through me and I try not to justify them. These unpleasant emotions last for a few minutes and then pass and I realize it is not so bad to feel sad once in a while.

Observing the loneliness and the sadness and accepting myself as I experience the pain of not fitting in, I realize that I love myself a little more deeply having allowed myself to sit with the sadness without rationalizing it away. As I walk home from work, there is a smile on my face not because I talked myself out of an unpleasant emotion, but because I allowed myself to feel the emotion without judgment and with loving compassion.

It is in that moment when I am aware of that acceptance that I begin to cheer up, and I think about days when I will have a deep sense of belonging, and the people surrounding me will want to spend time with me no matter how I feel. Like I am beginning to do for myself, the people who I will attract into my life will be able to sit with me when I am sad, and be okay with that. I think as I begin to give myself unconditional love, I will begin to recognize those who can do the same for me, and from that realization springs a feeling of joy and peace, and a certainty that I’m okay even when I’m feeling sad, lonely, or isolated.

Until next time, I wish you all the best.

Day 63

Suspending Judgment-Learning to Be Present

I have always been my worst critic. When I was in elementary school during recess instead of playing with the other kids, I used to find a quiet secluded little corner outside near the school building, going over my mistakes in my mind relentlessly berating myself for not being good enough tears silently falling down my cheeks. I’m not nearly that bad now, thank goodness, but today and most of this weekend, I found myself playing the should have could have game. You know, when you go over all the mistakes you made, all the words you would have said if you had just been more clever or less flustered. I played that game a lot this weekend, and I realized something; it takes me out of the moment and traps me in the past. Sitting in judgment of myself disconnects me from the moment, and I lose the precious time that I have been given.

So for me, being present means suspending judgment. Today was parent’s day at my daughter’s elementary school. I was interested to see how a Japanese elementary school classroom was organized and how her teacher would teach. The children were sectioned off in little groups. Their desks put together in little pods of four. Off to the side, next to the chalk board was a pair of students who seemed to act as leaders. Guided by the teacher, when it was time to answer questions, they called on students who were quietly raising their hands and not just calling out the answer. It was a great set up. The students were engaged in the lesson and encouraged to talk with each other about what they thought the answer was. When the teacher asked the groups to discuss a particular problem, the little ones would excitedly whisper to each other what they thought the answer was. Unfortunately, my little one was not included in this experience.

Next to her was a volunteer provided by the city to help her understand what was going on. Instead of the teacher or her peers helping her out, the volunteer helped her. She was in her own little world playing with her pencils and her markers. Sometimes she would have her head down. Other times she would be playing with her skirt. The volunteer would constantly but gently take her pencil away or encourage her to listen to the teacher. Occasionally, my beautiful brown eyed girl would turn to look at me, and I would smile encouraging her to look at her teacher and to engage in the class. However, I must admit, when she was chewing on her markers or not paying attention to her work, there would be a disappointed frown on my face instead of a sweet smile on the occasions that she turned to look at me. I was in turmoil because the part of me that believe in allowing your child to emerge and to handle their personality and their psyche lightly never imposing your will upon it was at war with the part of me that wanted a child who eagerly participated in her class. The judgemental part of me was dismayed and embarrassed by my child’s behavior, and I struggled to stay present as I observed the class.

In that moment, I was more concerned with how my child’s behavior reflected on me as a parent rather than on what role my child played in her classroom. Looking back, I would say that she is a bit ostracized. During a vocabulary activity in which all the children took turns making words using the last syllable of the previous word, my daughter was in her own little world. She was not included in the discussion, and the teacher seemed very nervous when it came time to call on her to add her word. The last syllable was, “go.” Rather than giving her the time to think about an answer, the volunteer and her peers spoon fed her an answer. Some of them whispered the word “go ma,” which means sesame in Japanese. Naomi wanted to say “go ri ra (which is a loan word from English for Gorilla). The game started with “go ri ra,” so she could not use that word. Confused by the different answers coming at her and her own desire to use the word “go ri ra,”  she came up with a combination of the two answers being whispered to her,”Go ma ka go ri ra,” which is the equivalent of “Sesame Or Gorilla.” It was an awkward moment for her, and the teacher took the answer despite the fact that it was a nonsensical answer.

I wondered how the teacher would have responded if a Japanese child had given her that answer. At the same time, I sympathized with the teacher, as a teacher, you do not want to discourage your students by inadvertently humiliating them. I probably would have done the same thing in my own class.  My memory of this moment is clouded by my sense of self criticism as a parent, and I do not believe that I have a clear picture of what was really going on in that moment. Would my memory of this have been clearer or at least different if in that moment I was not so critical of my own parenting. I regret that I did not have a clearer mind in that moment because I think there was a lot I could have learned from it if I had not been so embarrassed and disappointed. Perhaps, as an outsider, you might have a more objective perspective of my account of what happened. If so, I’d love to hear your ideas.

What I learned from my experience at parent’s day is that I spend entirely too much time inside my own head. I rarely experience anything in the moment. I move in and out of the moment and in the end I have no idea what really happened. Again, this is a form of self abandonment. When I am not present, I deny myself the opportunity to experience the richness of the moment. I could have learned so much from just observing my daughter in her classroom rather than judging my parenting style based on my daughter’s behavior in her classroom. So not only am I denying myself a rich experience, but I am also denying my child the chance to feel loved and accepted.

Being self critical makes me critical of others especially my daughter. It also causes me to emotionally abandon the people I am with. It is something of which I am not proud, and I would like to change. There’s that judgment again. Well, old habits die hard, so every day I will commit to suspending judgment, living in the moment, and being completely present with my emotions. Perhaps when I am present and I have trained myself to observe without judgment, I will have deeper and richer relationships with the people in my life, especially my daughter.

Until next time, I wish you all the best.

 

 

Day 62

I’m Not Stupid I’m Sleep Deprived

Checking out an article on the effects of sleep deprivation, I realize that what I perceive as stupidity is really the results of months of sleep deprivation. One of the many negative effects of not getting enough sleep is cognitive impairment. Sleep deprivation affects long and short term memory, and people who don’t get enough sleep, are easily confused, have a hard time making decisions, and have difficulty controlling their emotions.

As I read the article, I saw myself in all the descriptions of how sleep deprivation effects the body and the brain, and I thought to myself, this is my problem. I’m not stupid, I’m sleep deprived!  Since my son was born, I haven’t been getting much sleep. I believe I get an average of about four to five hours of sleep a night, and some nights I don’t sleep at all. I think that this is a form of self abandonment and self neglect. So, it’s time to start taking better care of myself.

In addition to committing to fifteen minutes a day of meditation, including physical activity in my daily routine, and doing shadow work to make my psyche whole again, I will go to bed at a decent hour. So from now on, I will track my progress and see how much better I function on a good night’s sleep. Having said that, I’m signing off.

Until next time, I wish you all the best and sweet dreams.

Day 61

Exploring My Biggest Fear: What I’ve Learned So Far

Last time, I addressed the fact that my biggest fear is having a lower IQ than someone in my position should have. I have no idea what my IQ is but considering I was put in remedial math when I was in elementary school and my teachers did not have much faith in my academic abilities, I assume I didn’t have a very high IQ. I am terrible at taking standardized tests, and I’ve never been good at math or science. These observations have led me to believe that I am not very smart. So as a result I feel inadequate and inferior to my fellow instructors.

The key here is my feelings of inadequacy. I think at its core this is a reflection of my consistently low self-esteem. Although I have come a long way, this little hiccup is an indication that I have much more work to do. There are still parts of me that do not feel valued, and I need to delve into the shadows once more to rescue them and remind them that I am not that shy little girl counting on her fingers and relying on touch math to do the simplest equations. I am a grown woman who has accomplished a lot and has a lot to offer the world, and has done a lot to contribute to English education in Japan. Moreover, my worth is not determined by how smart I am or what I have accomplished or what I have done. I have value because I’m L’Shawn and that’s enough. I do not need to prove my worth.

Sitting with this fear and allowing myself to feel the sadness and frustration that comes with the core belief that I am stupid and therefore unworthy of love or respect has taught me another thing about myself. I don’t like being uncomfortable. I noticed today that I go to great lengths to reduce my emotional discomfort, and it was with some effort that I let myself be uncomfortable. Throughout the day, I found myself seeking emotional comfort from colleagues, only to realize that I was escaping feelings that I judge to be bad and therefore unacceptable for me to express or feel. The more I denied myself the chance to unburden myself  to my colleagues, the sadder and more isolate and desperate I felt. However, I knew that I needed to allow myself to get through the emotional pain without getting quick fix from those around me. I could not abandoned myself, so I let myself get through the pain, and eventually, I began to feel better, and I was happy that I allowed myself to let the emotion play out.

Having discovered that I have a hard time feeling sad or lonely, I am going to redouble my efforts to continue shadow work and to learn to accept these less desirable emotions. To fully accept myself, I must be present no matter how I am feeling. Emotions are neither good nor bad they just are, and I have got to learn to let them be. I have heard that mindfulness is a great way to learn this very valuable skill, and I will meditate for at least fifteen minutes a day.

I am grateful for my fear of being stupid because it has given me the opportunity to learn more about myself and to reintegrate the parts of myself that I abandoned in my childhood or adolescence. As I learn more about myself through my emotions, I also learn about the ideas to which I am attached that may not be helpful. Attaching my self-worth to my IQ is neither helpful nor necessary. I can still live my dream despite my level of intelligence, and I am learning to be okay with that.

Until next time, I wish you all the very best.

Day 60

My Biggest Fear

Being stupid is my biggest fear, and now that I have decided to follow my dream, that fear has reared its ugly head. For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt as if I’m really not as intelligent as someone in my position should be. I often feel lost when my colleagues talk about various pedagogical methods, and although I’ve read a lot, I rarely remember the names of the authors or the specific terms and theories about which I read, so I cannot name drop and discuss theories as eloquently as my fellow teachers. I often remain silent and just listen enjoying the opportunity to get new perspectives and new information, but in my mind I feel so stupid and so inadequate that I do not dare open my mouth. It is a feeling I have struggled with most of my life, and I was hoping I had come to terms with it in the work I’ve been doing, but alas, that is not the case.

Intellectually, I know that just because I am afraid that I might be stupid does not mean that I am stupid. However this is a feeling, so rationalizing it is not the way to deal with it; and denying it, or suppressing it is a form of self abandonment, so uncomfortable or not, I need to sit with this feeling; this fear of having a below average IQ. So, for now, I’m not going to talk myself out of this feeling, I’m going to sit with it, and see what it has to teach me.

Feeling stupid is like being left behind. It is like being the only one who doesn’t get the joke. When I want to say something, I have to think carefully about the words before I say them, and even when I say them, they sound really pedestrian and nonsensical. I stumble on my words and get confused easily. I feel like I’m thinking through a fog, or as if my neurons are misfiring or firing at a really low frequency rate. When I read academic papers on the brain, I have to read sections over and over again, and then I have to ask someone else, usually my husband, whether or not I really understand what the section discussed. Usually when I do that, it turns out I do understand what I’ve read, but I can’t trust the other person because I feel like they’re humoring me.

I am terrified to get into a an intellectual conversation with my colleagues for fear I might say something really ignorant or stupid thereby revealing the truth about my intelligence or lack there of. So I feel small and insignificant. I also feel like an imposter, constantly on guard for fear my secret will be revealed. Because of this fear, I avoid situations where my intelligence might be judged, and I avoid taking risks. Part of the reason I have been in Japan so long is because I do not feel competitive in my field in the United States and Canada. I did not want to face the truth about the fact that I just don’t cut it in the upper echelons of academia.

Now, I am committed to following my dream and that might take me back to the ivory towers of academia, and I am terrified.

Until next time, I wish you all the best.