Your cranky is welcome here. In fact, cranky loves company so please, bring it on! Let’s not fall into the trap of believing that things are supposed to be great all of the time. Life is full of challenges, and it’s how we find the learning and the gift in all of it that matters. Yes, I started the year with intention and optimism AND I find myself a little burnt-out on life two months later. How did I get from there to here, and what are the indicator lights that I failed to pay attention to along the way?
Meet Thy Pleaser
Well, I’ve become a little too cozy with the saboteur voice in my head called “the pleaser.” The pleaser is motivated by indirectly gaining acceptance or approval by helping or pleasing others. Do you know anyone like this, or do you have a version of it within yourself? These are loveable characters! They are tuned into others, they are empathetic and giving, and they are great people to quarantine with – at first. The thing is, when your pleaser is in the driver’s seat, you give and give and give until – you lose sight of your own needs and become pretty resentful as a result. This leads to what I affectionately refer to as “Mother Theresa to Darth Vader” syndrome. It’s when everyone says how lovely you are, while at the same time, your spouse or partner or family member doesn’t for the life of them recognize the lovely person they are talking about.
To all of you pleasers out there – we have to bust the myth that asking for what we need is selfish. We need to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first. We need to take time off. We need to laugh and play and create space. We need to notice when our own flame is burning out, and jump into creativity and self-compassion. I said to a good friend today that creativity (often through writing) feeds my soul in a way that feels like my religion, and I’ve stopped going to church. Well, here I am God, it’s me, Margaret.
Let Your Heart Do the Talking
I didn’t realize that my cranky was at an all-time high until my 5-year-old son George started a new practice in our house. For Valentine’s Day, his lovely teacher, the fabulous Sarah Bailey from Milton Elementary in Rye, NY, gave him a little bag of heart-shaped stones. When he notices that I’m getting stressed out about something (or more shrewdly as of late, when he’s about to get in trouble) he runs over to me, and just hands me a heart. It catches me by surprise every time, and completely stops me in my tracks and shifts my mood. There are never any words exchanged, just a smile and a feeling of being seen and heard and most importantly, supported and loved and not judged. Everything changes in that moment. George’s heart offering is his way of saying “I see you – I know you are feeling bad and I want you to feel better.”
What if we could offer that sort of love and support to ourselves? Krisitn Neff, PhD and associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, writes “What distinguishes self-compassion is that it goes beyond accepting our experience as it is and adds something more – embracing the experiencer (i.e., ourselves) with warmth and tenderness when our experience is painful. It includes an element of wisdom – recognition of our common humanity.”
To Be Cranky is to Be Human
To get overwhelmed is to be human. To feel cranky is to be human. Well, the cranky in me wants to connect with the cranky in you! It wants to say, “I see you, and I know you are feeling bad and I want you to feel better.” Let’s celebrate the cranky and not get entirely stuck in it, but rather, use it to intentionally connect with each other and create more of what really matters.