My addictions strangle me when I’m unable to cope with situations. Hearing bad news kills. Chilling, defined here as succumbing to any addiction, then feels acceptable. If you’re anything like me, we need to re-enforce our defenses, rather than ask that the constant barrage of life’s perhaps-positives and perhaps-negatives cooperate with us. It would be nicer to have a conflict-free life. That won’t happen. Let’s instead try figuring out how to build up our defenses.
“You’re a rockstar!” That’s the most consistent compliment I’ve received throughout my career. Every positive interaction I’ve had with any rockstar has had two factors, their humble upbeat attitude and leaving you feeling great, with the 10 minutes hanging out with fans waiting to meet Albert Hammond Jr (guitarist from The Strokes) particularly reinforcing that notion. Let’s explore 5 factors I’ve noticed from rockstars and how you can apply them, even if you don’t like rock music!
“OK, Jane. We have time for one more question.”
“What’s the successful candidate look like in this role? What should I focus on to prevent myself from being unsuccessful?”
“Well, lemme tell you about the old guy. What a lazy bum! Couldn’t do nothing! He couldn’t understand anything we’d give ‘im! We’d tell him repeatedly how to do his assigned work and he’d seem to just forget! Stay away from the guy you are replacing!”
I think we focus too much on what other people think about us. When I’ve felt awkward, it’s usually because I’m thinking too much about what people think of me while I’m doing something. It’s all in my head, too. No one ran up to me exclaiming that I shouldn’t photograph this sign. Most people wouldn’t even care. If they did, it’s only because I distracted their own focus. How can we overcome focus insecurity?
I was feeling stressed out until Gogol Bordello kicked into the chorus of “Break the Spell,” just as I’m usually always despondent after hearing bad news, until I breathe in deeply and accept the circumstance. No one died, nor will die because of this. It’s unfortunate, sure, but that makes for good writing fodder, so get over it! That’s not meant to be callous or superficial. It’s just acceptance is the first step toward resolution.
One thing that’s hurt me frequently was thinking that professional contacts were friends. The problem stems from misgauging what layer of trust we operate on. When I talk like a friend yet they think we’re merely acquaintances, they won’t reciprocate. Is there an easy way to prevent this awkwardness? Is it just as simple as being friendly with people, waiting an arbitrary period of time, before considering them friends? Can our colleagues ever become friends?
I don’t remember what stressed me out enough to possess me to drive home on my lunch break, drink enough 190-proof grain alcohol to get wasted almost immediately, before driving back into work to finish my shift. That event’s cleared out of my memory. It was certainly trivial, like someone saying something in a particular way I didn’t like or some process not working as it should, because I’ve encountered many harsher situations while sober.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about self-confidence through five years of sobriety, it’s valuing myself more. This isn’t an exclusive trait of sobriety. I’m just more resilient against merely going with the crowd now. If they’re all going to the bar to go drink, and I’m not feeling particularly strong-willed, I’m comfortable saying no. Also, if anything doesn’t feel quite right, I’m more comfortable voicing my opinion, because what have I got to lose?
I don’t meditate like most people. Traditional practice asks that you should empty your mind, clear your thoughts, and calmly sit. While I’ve had some success with this method for reaching thought equilibrium, I’ve had more success in float tanks (or when I have downtime) letting the errant thoughts freely roam, with the most success occurring after going in with challenging questions that need time to develop, like a photo of an unclaimed optimal future.
I used to profoundly respect anyone’s opinion. It’s not that I’m some kind of awful curmudgeon now. More that I refuse to freely accept anyone’s subjectivities about the world, or myself, until I’ve listened with my empathically critical ear to validate their true intentions. If the argument is reasonable enough, I’ll buy it. If not, I move on with my life. Why obsess over negative thoughts? Why not forget and carry on? That’s easy, right?