I was infected with some grumpiness yesterday. It started around 1:30pm with me feeling lethargic and then turned into a general irritability. It’s like those commercials where that little grey cloud follows somebody around everywhere. Except my little grey cloud only comes by once in a while, unannounced and usually drunk. The frustrating part is I haven’t figured out why I’m grumpy, which makes me grumpier.
It’s not something that happens often. But when it does, the effects linger. I don’t like how it feels; this unexplained emotional and physical frustration. But it’s crazy to think that I’m immune to “waking up on the wrong side of the bed.” I am human after all. I’m allowed to be grumpy once in a while.
It’s the not knowing that frustrates me. One thing I’ve been trying to do, as a spiritual discipline, is be more mindful about the what and why that I’m feeling. I want to be more aware of what is going on in my mind and body. If I find myself feeling frustrated (say, because we’re introducing solid foods into Toby’s diet and his eating style doesn’t play well with the freshly cleaned floors on which I worked pretty hard) I can check in with that frustration, name it, acknowledge it, and then come back to center.
Of course, easier said than done. While I’m finding this technique works most of the time, sometimes the feelings linger. Like right now. Why am I feeling grumpy? It is because of the stress I’m feeling looking for a new job? It is because of the multitude of demands on my time and attention from Toby and Heather and friends, all of who require (as they should) a significant commitment of intention? Is it the constant pain underneath my right shoulder blade? Is it the feeling that no matter how hard I try to keep the house in order, I never seem to make any headway?
The list can go on ad nauseum. None of it is overwhelming or horrible or even dire. In fact, my life is blessed in very significant ways which is part of the problem. There is the lingering guilt of “I shouldn’t be grumpy because look at how awesome my life is” which is an attempt at shaming myself into not feeling grumpy but actually adds to it.
Part of this discipline is reminding myself that I have a right to my feelings, as irrational as they can be. However, I want to respond to my emotions, rather than react to them. Part of that means I have to be more open to expressing them; talking about them when they happen, rather than keeping them hidden away from the world (and myself). If I find myself annoyed at the way things are piling up in my computer room, I need say that I’m unhappy with that pile, then to do something about it rather than just be angry that it exists.
This goes again my nature. I’m an ENFJ and a type 9 which makes me extremely conflict averse, and dealing with conflict means expending a ton of personal energy. Especially when it comes to being in conflict with myself. At my most healthy, I am the peacemaker that brings healing, balance and justice to tense and dangerous situations. At my most unhealthy I avoid conflict at any cost, whether it is through ignoring the problem, zoning out, or doping myself with food and binging on Netflix.
Looking into the future, I want to be healthy Justin, which means doing the hard work. So here I am, letting myself feel grumpy and NOT giving in to anesthetization. Naming the grump; giving myself permission to just be this way for right now. But also checking in with it; walking with it through the day, hoping it’ll tell me its story when it’s ready. Until then, I have work to do and people to love.