Sunday, November 13, 2011


"I feel like I'm in a box, like the walls are closing in."
She was near tears while talking to me, this coming from a person who has done amazing things in her career including saving lives. A few days earlier she was provided with, for the first time that she could remember, a verbal reprimand. Her comments were consistent with this recent stress, which is currently causing her to feel a sense of claustrophobia.  Yet it did not stop there. She described her concerns about "the other shoe dropping." The other shoe being her termination or worse...or neither... but surely it is going to happen. I mean, she is positive of it.
"My back hurts.  I'm exhausted.  I don't even want to go anywhere.  I have been crying and and I know I'm irritable, but I can't let them get the best of me."
Not only do they have her best, they have her worst and everything in between. Clearly the other shoe has taken up an address in her future and she is already reaping the benefits...err... the stress of it now -- physically, emotionally and behaviorally. I clarified "them" to be her supervisors. I asked her directly how much she thinks these people really think about her in any given day at any given time. ...pause...then "not much."
I validated (for the purposes of this conversation, I am "allowed" to validate) this. Then I dropped the shoe, not quite the one she was expecting.  I asked her how much time she spends thinking about them.
"A lot."
Heck. I dug deeper and I asked what the price tag is for the rental space they are taking up in her head.
Well, yes.  They are sitting on your couch, watching your TV and enjoying various snacks and beverages from your kitchen in your head... oh they don't pay rent? Confused look.
"Oh my god! You're right!!"
Insert eviction process.
"I don't know how to get them out of my head".
I suggested the same way she let them in, through the door, right?
Okay, fair enough easier said than done. But I suggested that while she has no control of the actual "other shoe" dropping, she has control of her responsibilities and carrying them out at work and then doing a mental purge as it were to get through the rest of the day. Because she has sole ownership of her time away from "the place."
"Go out and do something fun," I suggested.
"I don't even want to go to my friend's 50th birthday party tomorrow."
I pointed out what a great opportunity it will be for her superiors to soil her couch, you know, the rent free one they occupy in her head because clearly they don't want her to go.  Stay hone and let them win.
Another epiphany -- this time with a pronounced smile.
Her tune changed.
"I'm going to the party."
Suddenly she returned to the present and dismissed her unwanted guests because she realized that the shoe is going to drop on all of us in one way or another.  How much time we spend abusing ourselves waiting for it is completely optional.

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