What can you do today to beat pain and frustration?
Maybe reading this will help!
Who can truly frustrate and drive you crazy more than you and what can you do about it? How many times have I asked myself questions like: Why am I like this? Why can’t I do this? Why did I do that? Why don’t I want to do this? Why can’t I be like this? I think few things are more frustrating in life than not understanding who I am. I hope sharing these thoughts with you proves helpful for you in easing some of your frustrations and pains in life. Would you mind if I explain what I have learned and a little bit about me to begin?
With this introduction, you might be able to see where I am coming from and how this is practical for you.
Before being a teenager, I was really happy most days and pushed through my occasional frustrations consistently. At some point around fourteen, the scales tipped and I felt frustrated nearly every day with the world around me and with myself. I felt unpopular, smarter than everyone else, mean, and strange. Looking back, it seems many of these frustrations came from not understanding myself. For the next fifteen years, I tried to be all kinds of different ways to see which one was really me. The problem was that I always focused who I was through the world around me. Jerry Banfield was merely product of my position in life including my job, my relationship status, my family, and my friends. I was frustrated all the time because of my inability to get to know myself and control my behavior.
Despite changing my people, places, and things repeatedly, my life maintained a remarkable consistency. I was happy most of the time but I also maintained a high level of frustration with myself and the world. When I lived on my own, the best solution I could find was drinking alcohol often to excess. The time drinking would minimize the pain I felt and the pain with the hangover would feel deserved. I put a lot of my pain and pleasure into alcohol for more than ten years and my life was mostly functional until I started drinking so much that it was not.
When I lived at home with my parents as a teenager and for a year when I was twenty-five, I was not allowed to drink at home. Instead of depending on alcohol to numb and explain my pain, I often would get into raging arguments with my parents or screaming matches with people online. Most days I got angry enough to cuss a lot and feel really stressed. The big arguments with my parents led to relief that felt much the same as what a drinking bender provided where my emotions could all get out there and I would have a few days of peace. Before I drank, this was the only life I knew. After I drank, in moments of clarity, I knew I wanted a life living neither of these ways but I did not know how I could have it.
No matter what I did, my spirit and my emotions were consistently at war.
If I was drinking just the right amount, sometimes I could have relative periods of peace. Any external factor could disrupt this as could drinking too much. While I always felt strong, my life was very fragile in terms of maintaining balance. Excess and indulgence were my habits. When I lived with my parents or was sober, I would work out every day, play video games or work sixty hours per week, and be on the edge of blowing up into a towering rage at any minute. When lived on my own and drank, I would be productive half the week, drink a liter of vodka two nights per week, and spend two days in bed with a hangover. If you want a concrete measure of my inconsistency, I was either losing weight or gaining weight depending on whether I was drinking or not.
While dating had been my biggest frustration for most of my adult life, meeting my wife finally took this big external frustration away. Once I met her, I no longer had a big external lightning rod to blame a big chunk of my negative emotions on. This left me lots of time and energy to look at what I was doing. For three years, I still lived mostly the same except that I was making a consistent effort to understand myself better. With less of the world to blame my problems on, I started to realize most of my problems were coming from me and that if I understood myself better, I could actually do something about my problems.
These efforts did not pay off quickly. As I kept trying to learn about myself, it was clear I was buried so deep in how I had been that figuring out who I was and what I could be plus actually doing it seemed a long way off. I tried to live sober without being overly stressed without much luck. A few months after moving in with my wife, I quit drinking and lived with her much the same as I had with my parents for nearly a year. I didn’t drink and instead worked and exercised to excess complete with big blowups which our relationship had not seen before. After nearly a year of this, my wife and I both thought drinking in moderation seemed like a better bet. This worked for about a year but then did not. Every day, I kept learning more about myself and reading book after book to try to figure myself out.
At some point this year, I hit a critical threshold of understanding which I hope I can share with you.
This understanding came after reading more than twenty self-help books, trying a whole bunch of different ways of living, and being a lucky enough man to have my wife by my side through all of this. The tipping point seemed to be where I had enough knowledge of myself to notice small changes in my body and mind from moment to moment. Seeing these small changes helps me figure out what I need to learn more about and gives me valuable data about how to go about making a balanced life.
Reaching this point was almost certainly aided by experiencing greater pain and loss than I ever had before. My Dad’s time on earth ended earlier this year. Both dealing with my grief and sharing my Mom and Brother’s grief has been the most painful experience of my life. The level of pain I had inside became shocking and inspired me to be willing to do anything to do better. Reaching the jumping off point seems to be the point where something positive happens for me. Once I was willing to do anything, I opened my eyes to what I could do which has led to amazing progress.
Now that you have seen how I lived in so much frustration internally, I hope I can share some of what I have learned that might useful for you in finding your own inner peace. The biggest single thing I have learned is that I get what I give all the time. If I give someone a hard time, I get a hard time both internally and usually externally. If I give someone help, I get help. If I forgive my wife for being rude, she forgives me when I am rude. You probably already know this. What shocks me is how deep this rabbit hole goes for getting what you give.
I like to think of myself now as a programmable robot.
Thinking like this helps explain the depth of getting what you give. The same as with a computer, all of what I let into my mind, body, and soul impacts what I get back out. When I listen to negative news and energy, I get negative feelings, fears, and awful thoughts. When I eat too much, I feel tired, irritable, and disappointed. When I skip exercise, I feel lazy, unmotivated, and useless. When I say something hurtful, I immediately feel bad inside.
While I am no expert on my own feelings now, watching how my body reacts is pretty easy.
Once I am aware my body is feeling pain, seeing the changes in my mood is a lot easier. I first noticed this at my friend’s wedding. I had been sober just long enough to feel vulnerable at a place where most of my friends were drinking and regretful that I had not been a good enough friend to be in the wedding party. To escape some of these feelings, I went hard at eating but not as hard as I might have in the past. I had a couple of tacos, some salad, and several desserts. The problem was I had been overeating all weekend before this and my body was just about fed up with it. Just a few minutes after finishing the last dessert, my body felt really uncomfortable. I felt overly full and like I had eaten too much rich food. Just a few more minutes after I noticed my body was disgusted with me, I started feeling really depressed. The rest of the night I was frustrated with myself and had a hard time keeping it together. At the time, I saw no connection between these two.
The next week, I suddenly realized what had happened. After not getting any exercise and eating much more than usual all weekend, my body was feeling ill. The more discomfort my body felt, the more it communicated that to my mind resulting in bad moods. For most of my life, I never would have realized that the feeling I had resulted from exactly what I did before that.
Most of us think our lives are so compartmentalized. What we do at work is separate from home which is separate from how we are with our friends. What we eat is separate from working out which is separate from sleep. What I have learned is that for me, nothing is separate. Every single thing I do is related to everything else I do. Knowing this has been like a superpower and has encouraged me to watch every detail of my life each moment. In knowing that the little things add up, I have the power to modify all of the little things I do every day to fit the life I want.
With figuring out the power of all the little things in my life, I discovered how easy it is to reprogram myself.
What I have done in the past matters very little compared to what I can do today. Who cares that for most of my life I have been unable to control my drinking? Today, I do not have to drink. What difference does it make that in the past I have usually hated small dogs? Today I can like small dogs. Why should it matter that in the past I never could stick to healthy eating? Today I can stick to only eating enough to satisfy my hunger. I can only do something about today and that today is very important. Today I can chose to do whatever I want based on what will be the best for me. I work hard every moment to avoid doing things that will make me feel bad and pay attention to my body for warning signs when I am accidently doing something not good for me.
For example, I have played a lot of video games for most of my life. They have been a great source of both fun and negative feelings. I have always accepted that at face value. Rarely did I notice how after playing a lot of video games I would feel useless, stressed out, and anxious. Now, I pay attention to what I am doing and I stop playing video games when I am starting to show signs of negative energy. Often I have fun playing games like Battlefield 4 and Titanfall for a few minutes. Sometimes playing these games can be frustrating.
I beat pain and frustration today by noticing when my mood is going downhill.
If I hear myself cussing a lot or feel my body being uncomfortable for more than a few minutes at a time, I know it is time to quit and that I am doing the wrong thing. This has been very hard to learn because often I am not consciously aware of what the right thing to do is until I am doing the wrong thing. For example, it is important to me to call my Mom most days every week because she lives alone now and I am one of the people she depends most on. I have been in the habit of over planning my days out of a fear of being bored which consistently leads to not being able to do everything I need to. Some things are much more important than others for me to do. Calling my Mom is one of those things. I see now that if I am playing video games during a time when I should be calling my Mom, first my body gets uncomfortable and then I get irritated. In the past, I would have accepted this as normal. Now, I know that whenever I am getting a negative reaction out of my body or mind, I am doing something wrong.
I am grateful to be thirty years old and to have a fairly healthy body and mind today. At twenty-five, both my body and mind were dangerously close to not living much longer. Regardless of how old you are or what you are doing, you can be in a state of growth or decay. If you have so much pain you cannot hardly tell when something you are doing is causing a little bit more, doing what I have described may be challenging. The awesome part is that even just doing a little bit today will contribute to doing a little better tomorrow. Rinse and repeat until you get the desired result!
I hope what I have shared with you helps in giving you hope.
Wherever you are in life, you can be how you want to be and you can do better than you thought possible today. The more effort you put into figuring yourself out, the closer you will get to being where you want to be. I am putting more effort than ever into trying to live a good life, getting to know myself, and being the person I want to be. I am feeling better every day than I have felt at any other time in my adult in my life. I hope that I am sharing these feelings with you effectively because I hope to serve you in living the best life you can.
Thank you for sharing these thoughts with me!
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