I’m having “one of those weeks.” You know, the kind where everything seems to be not working smoothly, where even the simplest things are challenging, where you want to just throw your hands up and give up. And I’ve spilled blueberries TWICE. The thing about spilling blueberries is, they roll away in every direction!
The first time was at the grocery store. [Embarrassing!] I was picking items out of my cart to put on the belt — this was in the express-only-10-items lane, the one where people don’t want to wait long — and one of the last items I picked up was my pint of blueberries. Only I picked it up from the top, causing the lid to stay in my hand while the bottom fell open. Blueberries hit the floor and ROLLED. Ugh. I could see the disappointment and frustration on the cashier’s face. And a little girl passed by with her dad and said, “UH OH!” I apologized profusely and tried to help another employee clean them up. And, I ran for another pint, because I really did want those blueberries!
This morning, as I was making my breakfast, I did the same damn thing! Only this time, it was in my kitchen. Those round blueberries seemed to spring from their confinement, mocking me as they rolled under kitchen cabinets and the refrigerator. I yelled a few obscenities and picked them up, rinsing them again, because I still really want them.
I realize the blueberries are just a symbol — it’s not about the blueberries. That’s just a “wake up call” for me to turn inwards and deal with my stressful thoughts. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) teaches there are two kinds of emotional pain: clean pain and dirty pain. Clean pain is felt when we lose something or someone, grief and a feeling of loss. Dirty pain is related to all the thoughts we have about the loss. For example, when I went through my divorce, I had to grieve the loss of the relationship and companionship, the loss of the dream of what I had hoped for the marriage (clean pain), but I also had thoughts of “what if I never marry again?” or “what if no one ever loves me again?” (dirty pain). Clean pain must be felt — we need to cry, yell, hit a pillow…I found boxing to be very effective. Or, as one of the master coaches I admire so much, Abigail Steidley says, you can throw a tantrum. Dirty pain needs to be disbelieved. And for that, there’s thoughtwork. I’m ever so grateful to Martha Beck for her writings and teachings on how to dissolve these pesky thoughts that cause me dirty pain but don’t serve me. One of my favorite methods for dissolving is using Byron Katie’s Work. Questioning these thoughts sets me free, and I can see that I am more than my thoughts.
And if you need a visual of an adult throwing a tantrum, click over to YouTube for this great video of Matthew Perry in The Whole Nine Yards.