How Talking About Things Can Actually Worsen Your Mood

“Does reliving the issues of the day serve any real purpose?”

Recently I met up with a few co-workers for happy hour. Yet moments, after we clocked out and headed to our destination I had a sneaky suspicion this hour, wasn’t going to be very happy….

We weren’t even out of the building before the talk turned to our annoyances: co-workers that weren’t pulling their weight; customers that were demanding things we couldn’t do; workloads too big to manage. And before I knew it a conversation that started out as a mere recollection of events turned into an exchange that had all the makings of an argument (elevated voices, sharp speech, aggravated movements)… only, we weren’t arguing.

And here’s the sad truth:

YOUR BODY CANNOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE.

Your body cannot tell the difference between the first time the THING happened, and your re-telling of the THING that happened, especially if the same emotions resurface. Your body goes through everything all over again. As long as you remain emotionally invested in the re-telling of the THING… you’re going to suffer.

Let’s say you come home from work and your spouse asks, “How was your day honey?” You start by telling him about an argument you had with a customer and then the emotion you thought you left at work is now sitting on the couch right between you and your spouse. You haven’t seen your spouse all day, and he just wanted to know how your day was – but now you’re fighting because you got offended that he didn’t want to listen to your story, or that he was taking the customer’s side.

Your fuse is much shorter because your body doesn’t understand that you aren’t arguing. And instead of getting over the issue you had, you’ve now given it more power. You’re no better than you were…

“There is a fine line between processing the experience to make it manageable, and reliving it and re-traumatizing yourself.” – Philippa Perry

Want some advice on what you can do to save yourself (and your spouse)?

LET IT STAY WHERE IT STARTED.  

You give that issue, that person, that thing more life when you continue to revisit and rehash your situation. You’ve “fanned the flames” by re-telling the story and allowing the emotion take over.

Remember most humans are empathetic and if your spouse is like mine he will take on your pain, your anger, your frustration, and your sadness. Then BOTH of you are affected by whatever it was that originally had only happened to you.

When you get home don’t even acknowledge that it happened. Because… I ask again, “does reliving the issues of the day serve any real purpose?”

Tell me about it: Why do you re-tell stories of frustration to other people?


(Image courtesy of: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lentzstudios/)

Flashback: Take the Risk Even If Nobody Is Holding Your Hand!

Original Post Date: July 2014

“and then I discovered that if there is something that ‘nobody wants to do’ that is a great opportunity to really rise to the challenge and make a difference.”

I have an interview today. It’s an interview for a department transfer and subsequently,  a promotion.

In the weeks preceding this one, I discussed this interview with a lot of people; I wanted their advice and their support. Sadly I was met with a lot of discouraging conversation. The first words out of my boss’ mouth were, “Oh, that job is really hard… Stacy* hated it. She was really unhappy.” Really?

She then told me with a shrug, “maybe they’ve changed the position since she left – you never know.” I hate when people shrug. It makes me feel like they are calling me stupid.

Another co-worker had the same reaction, “Yah, that job – it made Stacy so unhappy. She hated it.” At first, I started to question my decision. Maybe I didn’t want the job, maybe it wasn’t for me.

However, on my way to work this morning I had an epiphany: maybe I had been thinking about this too minimally – focusing on individual things about my current position – the trivial, monotonous things that everyone in my position hates doing…

Instead, maybe the thing that ‘nobody wants to do,’ is actually an entire POSITION.

Everyone’s breaking point is different. Maybe Stacy didn’t like the job, but maybe she was lazy and didn’t want to work very hard, or maybe she didn’t understand the purpose of her job in the grand scheme of things, or maybe she just didn’t care at all.

Either way, I’m not Stacy. I could love this job or I could hate it, but at least I am taking a chance on something.

Wish me luck!

Edited to Update: I KILLED IT. No matter what happens now, I feel 100% confident with HOW I interviewed.

Additional Update: I did not get the job. But instead, got a promotion within my current position, and additional responsibilities.


(image courtesy of: https://www.flickr.com/photos/smithser/)