As a business analyst (BA), I’m responsible for determining the software requirements that must be met so the product developed will meet the needs of its users. In the same way, since it’s my life, I’m responsible for recognizing what I need to do if I’m going to make my life more productive and healthy.
This is what I need to do.
Recognize that it’s okay to be a smart ass
Let’s be clear with this one. There is a time and a place for everything; however, when an opportunity presents itself, you just have to go with the flow or you’ll have regrets later. And you don't want that. As I see it, part of my job in life is to make people smile and, with any luck, chuckle or laugh. After reading so many articles about the benefits of laughter, I would be committing a disservice to everyone around me if I kept my inner ‘smart ass’ in check all the time. No personal growth is required here.
Recognize that something broken doesn’t have to be fixed…at least not by me
For me, there’s nothing more frustrating than to see something broken and not be allowed to fix it. For example, seeing a document with unclear wording or the ugliest layout in history could be enough to put me over the edge. If it’s my document, of course I jump in there and fix it; however, if it’s someone else’s document and I have not been asked for assistance, I can only sit there and hope that someday someone will say, “Do you want to make any changes to this document?” It would be like a dream come true. If it happened near Christmas, it would be right up there as one of the best Christmas presents ever. If you know me, you know I’m speaking the truth. If you don’t know me, it may sound a little sick and your opinion of me may have taken a slight hit.
If a bad document design can put me over the edge, imagine what it does to me when I see something wrong with a relationship (for example, between co-workers or between family members). When I see people having disagreements, I provide advice when asked. I wring my hands (so helpful). I try to do some deep breathing to relax (and fail). I struggle to let events unfold in their own way and let the chips fall where they may. Sometimes I have wasted all this energy only to have everything work out without my help. Looking back, the only person who really suffered during these experiences was me, and it didn’t do anyone any good.
Recognize that conflict is not always bad
I hate conflict as you may have gathered from my need to fix things. I don’t like seeing anger or hearing raised voices (even a little bit). Not that anyone really enjoys it; however, I go to the extreme to not deal with it. If I can somehow take some of the responsibility for a problem (even if I didn’t do anything wrong or wasn't involved in the situation), I will do that in a heartbeat to avoid conflict. I know. It makes absolutely no sense. This technique, if you want to call it that, takes a very strong toll on my mental and physical health, and it doesn't resolve the problem. The stress I place on myself may have been one of the factors that led to me developing breast cancer in the first place. Whenever there is conflict, which is not necessarily a bad thing when handled correctly, I think about what it's doing to my health.
Recognize the need to expand existing coping mechanisms and develop new ones
Just because I’m a smart ass doesn’t mean I have the best coping mechanisms for dealing with problems. It’s just one of many coping techniques that have helped me. My sense of humour is always with me. I can’t turn it off and I don’t want to. It’s part of me. In fact, until I wrote my book, my sense of humour never had an adjective associated with it. I thought my humour might be a little sick, but I have since learned it’s just quirky. What a relief.
My other coping mechanism is to believe that everything will be okay until proven otherwise. I used this technique with great success during my cancer experience; however, I need to apply it to other areas of my life (see the issues I have with needing to fix things and avoiding conflict). This approach is easier to apply to me than it is to apply to the people around me.
I also have to ask myself, “How important is it?” Right now, everything is important to me. I could do battle all the time. Now I have to find the right balance between identifying and correcting what I believe are injustices and accepting what I cannot change. If everything has the same level of importance, everything will drive me crazy (a short trip). This isn’t emotionally healthy. I have to figure out when I should let go.
Recognize just how critical my physical health is to me
As someone who has had cancer and doesn’t want to experience it again, this is something that I need to think about. Sitting at my computer and writing about life may help me emotionally, but without the corresponding physical activity, I cannot truly be mentally healthy. Part of my floundering is because I don’t have a specific plan of what I need to do to get me where I want to be. I guess part of my physical activity will be to find someone who can help me set goals and come up with a plan on how to achieve them.
Recognize that there are many ways to be productive
I talk to people about their weekends. They tell me about their cleaning successes and the more fun activities they did with family and friends. Compared to them, my urge to clean and throw out some of my clutter seems to be a little weak. I also apparently need to do more with friends. While I used to feel bad about my short list of achievements each weekend, I finally realized that cleaning and friends do not have to be involved for me to be productive. For example, this weekend I researched possible methods for promoting my book, did some self-assessment to write this blog and, most importantly, posted it to make myself accountable for achieving my goals.
Happy New Year to you and your families!
Over 30-years of writing experience, over five years as a cancer survivor, and a lifetime purveyor of wit and laughter.