Usually I would get these symptoms if I had spent all day hunchback over the computer keyboard, but today was different. I actually went out and got some sunshine. I went on a nice work, went to the gym for a class, and I did some work around the house. So, it was unlikely that the physical stress symptoms (as I’ve come to know them) had anything to do with my posture or from lack of movement.
This week in DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) class, we talked about how in the course of the life of an emotion, there are times when we may notice physical symptoms first and then have to trace them back to their source. For most of us, it’s usually the opposite: We’ll get stressed or angry about something, notice that, and then later notice a headache or feeling fatigued.
Other times, like with me tonight, we’ll notice the symptoms and then say, “Ok, what I am holding onto? What am I stressed about?”
I decided to get mindful. I laid on the couch and closed my eyes. I did a body scan and was surprised to notice how very tight I was clenching and holding my muscles all over, especially in the area where I was experiencing the most pain, tension, and discomfort (neck, shoulders, face, jaw).
Slowly, one at a time, I released tension from each part, saying, “I release this tension in my shoulders,” and I’d slowly drop my shoulders, noticing how far up they had been and how far down they were coming to relax. I did a trick my therapist taught me that helps relieve jaw tension: I pushed my tongue against the backside of my upper teeth. I felt my jaw ease a bit. I did this throughout my body, and the tension began to melt away. This activity is called a “body scan” meditation. If you can find a CD/MP3 of someone doing a guided body scan, I highly recommend it. I find them very relaxing and effective.
Here is a good one that I just found on YouTube:
Video can also be downloaded from LifeLight
With the distraction of physical pain subsiding, I began to drift off. I had about 2 hours of blissful napping before I woke up feeling refreshed and restored – and ready to cope with the issue that was stressing me out.
I’m feeling very jealous and insecure. Although I have been dealing with inappropriate behavior at work from male staff, I have been the only female in the group for a long time. It turns out that another woman was hired. The men describe her as attractive, young, and brilliant. She’s 3 years younger than me, European, and she graduated from a prestigious, expensive, well-known school. I’ll meet her tomorrow. I’m nervous as heck.
There are so many things going through my mind. Having heard all these wonderful things about her, I wish my reaction could have been one of excitement. I wish I would have thought that she must be as wonderful as they are all saying. I wish I looked forward to meeting her. (Hey, she could be another chance to have a friend, or at least a work buddy.)
But, instead, I got jealous and insecure. Although I say that I want the attention off of me at work, I only mean the negative, inappropriate, offensive attention. I felt kind of special being the only woman at work. I guess this role made me feel special in this place. Perhaps this is an issue of a fear of losing a part of my identity -which I am working so hard to discover, build, and grow in – disappearing.
But, when I use my Wise Mind, that doesn’t seem quite right. It’s probably my inner child – that scared little girl who likes to be the center of attention…who loves to be the pretty girl in the room…who loves to be treated special…she’s afraid that she’s going to lose all that because there’s a new girl in town.
The more and more I write about this and process it, the more I realize what an amazing opportunity this is to grow in a number of ways as I continue my work in DBT. I have the opportunity to regulate my emotions, reactions, and impulses to this situation that is causing me a bit of distress. I can to mindfully observe the whole thing and proceed with Wise Mind.
I may even get to connect with a bright, friendly colleague at the workplace. I feel badly that I harshly judged her, with no basis and not even knowing her, but I release that. It was just a defense, coming from a place of fear. I don’t have to start out not liking this person that I don’t even know.
I can grow.
Thank you for reading. More Soon.