I’m sitting here, trying to get jazzed for work this morning and I am struggling. I am a cashier at a big retail store. I am also an introvert with anxiety and a lot of homework. Talking to a constant stream of people for eight hours a day is exhausting for me, even when they’re pleasant. Much less when they are angry or rude or stealing. It’s exhausting. And a lot of the time I feel extremely overwhelmed because I’m going in to do this scary, emotionally and physically draining thing, and then I have to come home with no energy left, and do my homework and my chores. It’s a lot. And it’s hard. But it’s necessary. And it’s possible. Today, I’m trying to get myself to focus on two empowering thoughts to get through this: none of it matters, and my energy follows my thoughts.
None of it matters. I mean. Obviously it matters a little bit in the sense that I am being paid to do a job and I should probably do my job so I don’t get fired. But I mean all of the things that I’m worried about and upset about (before they even happen!), they don’t matter. This is my job. And while there are rules to follow at any job, it’s still just a job. As long as I’m not doing anything to get myself fired, it doesn’t matter what people think of me. This goes against everything my anxiety and spinning brain tell me. But here’s the thing. Other people’s thoughts and feelings and moods and perceptions of me are not my problem. I don’t need to be afraid people are mad at me. They might be. Who knows? But it doesn’t matter. I go into that building to earn a paycheck and I am still going to get paid for my work today whether or not everyone hates me or thinks I’m a smelly, evil troll. It doesn’t matter. This is a thing I do to fund my existence. It is not my existence.
My energy follows my thoughts. I’m sure we’ve all heard this a thousand times by now, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Everytime I go into work and think that I am going to have a bad day, I have a bad day. When I sit there (or stand I guess) and brood over all the things that are wrong with the day and all the petty injustices and inconveniences I am expected to handle as a result of my busy schedule, I get consumed by the anger and the darkness. I start acting out arguments in my head that haven’t even happened yet. Once the negativity is planted and tended, it thrives. If I go in there, certain that it’s going to be the longest day of my life and focus on every less-than-good thing that happens, I’m going to have a bad day. If I tell myself that I have more work than I can possibly get done, I’m not going to finish it. If I insist that the assignment I am working on is too hard, it probably will be. I cannot control the tides of the universe or the actions of other people, but I can control (to a certain extent) the way that I react to it. Sometimes I’ve just gotta shake my head and wave bye-bye to the intrusive thoughts and focus on the good things in life and refer back to thought number one.
Is this going to cure my mental illness and make every single one of my days full of sunshine and roses? No, definitely not. Does this mean I am responsible for my mental illness? Still no. My brain has a little bit of chaotic wiring. That’s how it was built. I can no more change that fact than I can change the cancellation of Firefly. But making an effort and being positive and strong is certainly better (to me, at least) than sitting back and accepting my defeat.