One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s far easier for me to process things I’m learning about healing and recovery intellectually than it is emotionally. This even comes up in therapy too. I can say plenty about what I think about something or relaying the actual facts, speculating on the other person’s motives. But when it comes to saying how I feel, sometimes I don’t even know! Even when I do, sometimes it can be difficult to identify what exactly I’m feeling, let alone communicate it!
Even a couple of therapists in the past have gotten impatient with me about this. My current one has the patience to help talk me through these things and has given me information about feelings, including a list of different ones. I was able to understand why it’s important to experience and handle feelings so I don’t let things build up and then act inappropriately or say something inappropriate. But I still wasn’t quite grasping it on the emotional level.
It’s really not surprising, given that when I did experience or express difficult emotions as a child, such as anger, sadness or fear, I was often punished for it. Or mocked. I learned those weren’t ok feelings to have. But as my therapist and self-help books have pointed out, feelings in and of themselves aren’t bad, it’s how we act on them that’s the issue.
Without going into too much detail about my job, we’ve had, as many places have had layoffs. We’ve also had an upper management shift and departmental re-organization. This has been quite challenging. A colleague in another department who hasn’t been there as long as I have received a promotion. I’ve been told they want to promote me, but can’t for reasons beyond my control for several years now. It’s getting a bit frustrating. I’m dealing with it in various ways. I don’t begrudge the colleague who was promoted. He works hard, we have a good working relationship.
But when he asked me for help on something earlier this week, I did feel kind of resentful. Before I started the whole healing/recovery process, I would have felt guilty or wrong for feeling resentful. So I would have pushed that feeling down and tried to hide it and not acknowledge it. But I acknowledged it head on this time.
Basically, I worked out that it was ok to feel resentful about the situation, many people would. But it was not ok to feel resentful to my colleague or to let it in any way, shape or form affect my work. That’s not who I want to be professionally or personally. So I was able to put the resentment aside and focus on helping my colleague. I would have helped him anyway, but I went the extra mile. Doing so resulted in:
1) I was able to meet a departmental goal that’s been set for us re: a procedural task
2) he was so pleased with the results, he stopped by to thank me personally and mentioned it to my supervisor when he spoke with her.
3) he became aware that we could provide this service for him and his department. He has a good rapport with the new management.
It’s possible that this might help develop an already good working relationship between our departments into a better one. And since he has a good rapport with the new management, if he puts in a good word for us, that could help us.
If I’d ignored my resentment, it might have taken hold in doing just a “good enough” job vs. going the extra mile. While it may not have caused negative consequences, I would have missed the opportunities the situation presented. By acknowledging my feelings, I was able to stop them from getting in the way.
I’m curious to see how this will play out in my personal life as I become more comfortable with my feelings and less afraid of them. I think it will have a very positive impact on things.