How to define your own life and not be hijacked by assholes, bullies, and mean girls.
After a particularly exhausting and busy few weeks (month? haha), I’m reminded that it’s important for me to pause, reflect and reset. Anyone else experiencing a 2019 like that so far? 🙂
With all the stress and overwhelm creeping in, I really needed to check back in and to recognize that some of the stress is self-inflicted, and the way that I’m choosing to approach every interaction, every perception, and every day is going to define how my day, week, or month is going to continue. With that in mind, I wanted to share one of my favorite quotes, one that has been an absolute game changer for me:
“Energy is the currency of the universe. When you pay attention to something, you buy that experience”-accredited to Emily Maroutian
I heard this quote on a podcast some time ago and I can honestly say, nothing has stuck with me more. Seriously, have you heard anything more revelatory and amazing? I. LOVE. this. quote!
I often share this quote with team members at work, especially those who are allowing something to hijack them or send them into a state of stress that resembles a kidnapping of your favorite pet. Why on earth do we pay so much attention to bullshit that serves only to stress us out? Our time, our energy, our sanity is worth so much more than that and yet, we’re like a co-ed at a bar, throwing all our valuable currency at something meaningless and excessive.
When I think about what this quote means to me and how I can use it to better align my life, I think about what am I buying into that could be better exchanged for a positive experience:
-Fights with my boyfriend (started by me, typically revolving around me not feeling loved or paid attention to in the exact way that I want) — by “spending” on this, I also perpetuate the cycle. By paying attention to the actions that don’t make me feel loved, I see more of those actions and often miss the little things he’s done to so clearly show me how much he cares.
-Instead of this, I can buy into the couch cuddles, hours of laughter and silliness, and weekends spent at home with our two pups with my handsome bearded fella cooking delicious food. Seriously…swoon.
-Frustration at work — someone makes me feel unheard, undervalued, or attacked. I could feel like I’m being singled out or picked on.
-I could flip the script and see it as a learning opportunity. My boss is hard on me because she wants me to succeed and do well. Maybe my coworkers are stressed out because they have a tight deadline. We’re all on the same team, and we work hard together, so that seems like a way better energy investment.
Again, where we put our focus and attention, energy flows, so we will continue to see the things we focus on. So in situations like a fight with my bf or a frustrating day at work, I’ll continually (and subconsciously) look for examples of this negative treatment to affirm this perception I have. This is a real deal, folks; it’s called Confirmation Bias – and it means that we look for and interpret (often unknowingly) information that confirms our existing beliefs or theories, (e.g., “my boss thinks I’m an idiot” or “my boyfriend doesn’t listen to me”). Our brain is constantly looking for proof of the beliefs we’re carrying; we love to be right, even if the “rightness” means that someone “doesn’t like us”, or we’re “not good at our jobs”. Seems silly, right? That’s why we have to break the cycle and focus our energy and attention on things that will make our lives better!
Think about it this way – if someone at work is being hateful, hyper-critical, or micro-managey, and we spend all our time being frustrated about that, we’ll continue to see and FEEL those behaviors and the physical and mental effects it has on us. We stay in a state of stress and frustration and get more angry instead of
getting even – kidding, I mean instead of moving on, improving our performance, or even just focusing on something we do like about our job. Any of you ever guilty of this? I sure am.
How does it affect you?
Say you start your Monday morning off fine. I mean, it’s a Monday, but it’s gonna be a good week and you have great dinner plans that evening, so you’re in an OK space. You get to work and a coworker walks in front of you and shuts the door in your face. You have two choices:
Choice A: Assume they didn’t see you and move about your day.
Choice B: Assume it was intended to be rude and because they actually don’t like you. Make sure to “vent” about this to at least the next three people you see.
After that, you continue through your day, a little anxious about a meeting with the big boss. In the meeting, your boss seems to be having a shit day and is more critical than normal. You know that you have work to do, but were hoping to collaborate and talk about the great strides you’ve already made and the big plans you are working towards. He or she is rude, seems to have no awareness that you’re trying to improve and you end the meeting because he/she gets another call and waves you out of the room. You have at least two choices here:
Choice A: Assume that your boss is having a crappy day and express some mental empathy for them. You also spend a few minutes reflecting on what happened and take the truth nuggets and make yourself a list, a “things I can improve” list.
Choice B: Hate your boss. He/she is a complete asshole and never appreciates anything you do. You’re so sick of the BS and the constant abuse. Be sure to tell all your coworkers about this experience and when you get home, unload on your significant other about it too.
I could keep going, but I’ll assume you see the trend here. We all have choices throughout our day of how to “spend” our energy or where to direct it, and our choices have a direct impact on how the rest of our day/week/life goes. They also affect the day/week/life of those around us.
Now, let me be super clear – it isn’t fair that your boss is an asshole and that they take their personal shit out on you; it may have been rude for someone not to hold the door; the driver who cut you off might have been acting like a jerk — I’m not debating those things. What I am talking about is the part of the interaction that’s within your control – your reaction.
I am SO guilty of all this myself. We get so caught up in the feelings of an interaction, especially when they are feelings of inadequacy, attack, disrespect, etc., and we get completely hijacked. We let this dictate the rest of our day, our week, and sometimes even our whole lives. Then we could become an angry, resentful, jaded victim and at the end of the day, the person it truly hurts is us. It hurts by making people not want to be around us, making us less resilient in tough situations, making it harder for us to get jobs, build relationships, tolerate ourselves, etc. The stress from these reactions can even make it more difficult for us to sleep at night and I don’t know about you, but I need my sleep!
How can we fix it?
Shifting your mindset mid-hijack can be tough, but it’s possible. First, try stalking yourself to find where you are “spending” your energy – what gets you worked up, what hijacks your day, what are you talking about for HOURS after it happens?
I’ve included a little freebie HERE for you to track how your day. See where you’re spending your energy on stuff that drags you down, spin you out, etc (“Net loss”) and also take note of the moments that send you sailing through the day with happiness (“Net gain”). It’s important to notice both so you can work to course correct and send your energy flowing in the right direction. Try tracking this for a few days and see what the trends are. Share any insights in the comments below!
Another way to fix this is to focus on a way to break this habit in the moment. Sometimes it can be as simple as saying in your head “wow, that person who cut me off must be in a hurry. I hope they make it safely”. Sometimes acknowledging others’ situations and wishing them well can be enough to reset our brain waves.
Maybe it’s escalated to the next level and you’re ready to unload on EVERYONE about what this asshole did to you!! In that case, see if you’re able to spin it and say something about “they must be having a tough day” or tell a funny story about the “asshole” to the person you were about to unload on/to…” This guy who cut me off this morning had the WORST booger situation – he was knuckle deep in his brains!” Sometimes remembering – and sharing – a positive, or at least funny, story can be the course correct that your brain needs to avoid the victim/anger/rage spiral you were about to go on.
If you sense that this might actually have more to do with YOU than with the offender (or maybe if you don’t sense that but can’t figure out why they’re being “mean” to you), ask yourself, “what can I learn here? Is there anything I can take away from this to be better/happier/more understanding?” If you can, make some notes. Often times, journaling or “brain dumping” about a situation can help us work out some internal shit that we might be projecting or that might be clouding our perception at the moment.
Another cool thing you can try is what’s called an Anchor– set up something positive you will hear/see/touch/smell after a stressful interaction (for example, a picture of a cute puppy, your child, a place that makes you feel JOYFUL). If you know you may be walking into a tough situation, take a peep at that anchor first. And if you get ambushed by an unexpected hijacking, make sure this is already placed somewhere you will see it afterwards (hello, cell phone “lock screen”).
So to wrap it up, remember that we all have a choice on how to “spend” our energy – and what we invest in is what will grow in our lives. We’re all human and some days will be tougher than others, so remember to give yourself grace on the days you “buy the bad shit”, but continue working on your investment portfolio full of things that give you joy, raise your vibes, and increase the goodness in your life!