Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Minimization: Fooling Myself

I'm doing a lot of internal review these days.  I fully believe that I get little bits and pieces on my journey and my task is to work on putting the pieces together.

It's not new news that I'm struggling with stress.  My job changed dramatically early last year.  Since that time, corporate changes have added more stress to my list each time I turn around.  While there used to be that proverbial "light at the end of the tunnel," I now feel like I'm completely buried and there is no possible way of finding the light without major change happening.

My work situation has had a lot of negative impacts on my life.  My dentist even noticed that my gums are showing signs of me being stressed.  I often have sore neck and shoulder muscles.  Exercise and diet have gone out the window. I'm crankier and more exhausted.  I've become more emotional- wanting to cry more than smile most of the time (just typing that brought tears to my eyes).

I have great friends who have surrounded me with support and love.  They are there for me when I need to talk, need a hug, need a fun evening with friends.

I have a fantastic husband who has really stepped up to be a full partner in our lives.  He makes dinner, never complains if he's the one "stuck" at home with the kids when I have meetings or work late or whatever, he tries to keep me laughing, he keeps on holding my hand, holding me.

I have kids that are full of joy and energy.  And they also know, as much as a 7 year old and 4 year old can, that sometimes Mommy has had a particularly hard day and needs some extra hugs and loving.

Yesterday, I was talking with one of my friends about the sermon at church that was so moving for me- because it was a fellow church members sharing openly about her recent experience with job stress.  Long story short, it lead to a stint in a stress center, a requested demotion to reduce the stress, and realizing that opening up your vulnerabilities to the people who love you in your church is important.  I cried a lot Sunday morning but couldn't tell you exactly why at the time.  Her lesson from her experience was the importance of opening herself up to the friends she had in her church family.  But there was something about hearing about this stress situation in her life that somehow made my own experiences... more real.

My friend said to me... "I don't know why you trivialize this stress about work all the time."

So I started reading up on trivializing stress.  Which led to the word "Minimization" which is, apparently, a close cousin to "Denial."  In fact, minimalization is often a combination of denial and rationalization.

I read some articles and blog posts by people with initials like "PhD" after their name.  And some things really stuck with me.

Minimization or denial is an attempt at making the stress not as bad, less harmful.  I am trying to manipulate myself into believing that the stress isn't that big of a deal.  As long as minimization/denial continues, I will do nothing to actually change what is going on.  I won't take the problem seriously.

See?  I am denying, I am rationalizing (a lot), I am minimizing.  I am trying to redefine the importance of job stress in my life.

The past few days have been about realizing that this is A Problem and not just something I can muscle my way through.  I'm a survivor.  The thing I am best at is waiting it out, forcing my way through, seeing the light, and hunkering down.  It's my automatic brain setting for this little voice in my head to tell me, "This isn't a big deal.  Yeah, it stinks.  But you aren't dealing with (insert any terrible thing that other people are living with) so you should just count your blessings."

I know I am blessed.  I know it.  I am thankful for my blessings.  My friends, my husband, my church family, my home, my kids, my health, the health of my loved ones, having a job at all, having stability and security in my life... there is so much that I am truly and deeply thankful for each and every day.

So then I feel guilty for getting so stressed about something as "unimportant" as my job.  Because I am so blessed.  See how this minimization thing works?

Or I'll have a pretty good day, or a few good days.  Work doesn't kill me and I leave feeling productive.  Then I have hope.  Then I figure that I'm really blowing it all out of proportion and it isn't so bad.  See how the denial thing works?

And one big, single question remains...

What on earth do I do about all of it??



Collette said...

How about yoga? I know that in a stressful life it's hard to make time, but I would recommend a 20 minute video called AM Yoga with Rodney Yee. It really does help me to stay centered and to control my stress. I'm a better, nicer person when I'm doing it.
Another thought, have you considered that maybe it's time for a job change?

E.C. Montero said...

That is a big question! I think I agree with the change of job, too. For years I wanted more responsibility, more money, more everything. I WANTED to have job stress. I wanted to go back to school to earn a higher degree so I could get that job. Then I had kids. It was a game changer. Both my husband and I took a step back, both in responsibility and pay. It was a hard decision to make, but I'm glad we did it. Keep in mind that the job change took a considerable amount of time, but it was worth it.

This is not an easy one, but you have an amazing support group. Whatever decision you make will be the right one. Good luck!

C. Beth said...

It sounds like you're at the point you're willing to consider your options. And that's a good place to be.

Praying for guidance for you.

Shell said...

I do this a lot- I say "oh, it's not that big of a deal" and keep pushing forward. But it's probably why I can't sleep lately.

Mel said...

A bit of advice I often give friends who think their problems are little compared to the problems of others: Your problems are not your problems in comparison to the whole world's problems, they are to be compared only to YOUR other problems. If this bothers you every day and bleeds into other areas of your life, you deserve to address it and try and change the situation to improve your life and the lives of your family.

Adrienne said...

You can't compare your problems to the problems of others. We have different trials and seasons that we struggle. Sometimes it can be a relief to admit the stress and validation for it. A job change and all of the above is a great reason to feel stressed! Don't feel guilty about that. Hang in there.

Leticia said...

As I read this blog today all I could think of is that the way that you handle your job sounds a lot like how I am trying to handle my marriage.

I've felt like I am trying to play down the problems, a good day here and there pushes me past the next few bad days, and I feel like I'm selfish and don't really appreciate my blessings when I complain about how broken it seems.

I don't know what to do about it either but I suspect with time and prayer the answer will come to you.