feelings & fire drills

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Is there anything wrong with eating your feelings if, for example, you’re doing it by eating a Napoleon, perhaps the most perfect pastry ever concocted?

In all seriousness, sometimes it’s hard not to stuff those feelings down. Recently, I’ve come to realize that this is what I’ve been doing most of my life – minimizing my anger and other people’s vicious actions, blaming myself, and trying to move past it. This is obviously a dubious strategy and I have yet to meet someone this works for.

I’ve been on what you might call an outside-mandated self-improvement plan for the last few months as I’ve prepared to move into a supervisory role at my company. I read a ton of business books now. I’m that person you see on the airplane in the middle of the week reading about Zappos and how to motivate your people. I’m still a little embarrassed about this, though – I don’t like being like everyone else – so I buy Kindle editions for most of them. I could be reading The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership or I could be “reading” Fifty Shades of Grey, and no one would be the wiser. (For the record, it’s the former.)

The other thing I did recently in the name of self-improvement was go to a COA meeting (and buy a pair of Sturt Weitzman boots). The meeting was a big love-fest and I felt distinctly uncomfortable. I had a hard time with all the God talk. Can someone please explain to me how “God” and a “higher power” have nothing to do with religion and, well, a higher power? Because I personally do not find it reassuring to get my faith from fiction or blind hope. I told one of my church-attending friends a version of this, and she seemed confused at first, and then kind of understood how not believing in an afterlife could be comforting. You’re here, then you’re nowhere. I like that idea, that personal growth and helping others is the reward, not the means to an end that only some lucky people get to enjoy, while the rest of us rot in purgatory or whatever punishing afterlife thing one happens to believe in. I practice kindness and empathy because it’s the right thing to do, not because there’s a delicious pastry waiting for me at the end of the tunnel.

I’ll be the first to admit that this post is a little rambling, but this is the result of weeks of frantic management book reading, long days at work, long days thinking about attending self-help meetings but not going (and long days being ashamed of that), and long winters. I’m all over the place, mentally and emotionally. I wish I had the constitution to fail at meditation until I don’t anymore, but this is one of the downsides of being a goal-oriented perfectionist who requires public recognition to make it all seem worthwhile. I have a hard time doing things just for myself.

The weather, like me, is all over the place, too. It’s 40+ degrees today in Minnesota, unheard of for the end of January. I’m not fooled. Before it gets better, it will get worse. The question is how much worse, and whether I view it as an opportunity to curl up with a good book, or an opportunity to binge-watch Scandal, which while addictive, is a really stupid show.

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