It’s a bright, warm, sunny Saturday morning in May and I’m ready for one of my favorite hobbies, gardening. I’ve got my plants, compost, mulch, shovel, water, fertilizer, and green thumb ready to dig some holes and plant some greenery. I kiss my wife and head out into the morning light ready to have some fun with nature.
First I just need to pull some weeds to clear out the area.
Hmm, maybe some vines, too. Ah, some poison ivy, oh and dig out a small stump or two, and those pricker bushes gotta go.
Before you know it my happy little project has become a sweaty, scratchy, laborious task. My whistle while you work has become a grumble while you stumble. My thoughts shift from the task at hand to angry discussions in my head with my wife about how she doesn’t understand how much work this is, it’s not just digging holes and tossing in the plants. This is hard work! I am not having fun and my lower self has taken over. I’m complaining more in my head than paying attention to what I am doing, leading to even more scratches and stumbles.
At this moment my hot wife walks over to heated me with a smile. “How’s it going, babe?”
I unleash all the negative conversation I had in my head onto her. “Ugh…I haven’t planted a freakin thing. I’ve been pulling out these freakin weeds and vines and prickers for the past 2 hours. You don’t get it. This is hard freakin work. It ain’t just digging holes and dropping in plants and poof, an instant magic garden. It’s hard f*cking work.” I was stressed, annoyed, hot, sweaty, scratched, buggy, and by no means having fun. The prickliest bush here was me.
I was not only knee deep in weeds, I was knee deep in my Doomsing Victim trait.
Doomsing Victim? Yes, this is a trait I have that, when any little thing goes wrong, suddenly everything in the universe is wrong and conspiring against me. And it’s always been wrong and always will be wrong. It’s no fun, and I’m no fun to be around. I’m focused on hating everything and everyone rather than what I am supposed to be doing. Not only is it no fun, it leads me farther and farther away from what I really want.
After I angrily explain all that is wrong and how hard the work is, she says she thought I liked to garden, and isn’t this all part of gardening? Isn’t the point to have fun?
Yes, the Doomsing Victim hates being happy and loves to steal my fun. If I dig a little deeper, I unearth the fact that being frazzled and prickly is very predictable (or predickable) for me unless I make an effort to weed it out.
To do this, I accept that I planted myself here. I am the one that changed my mood, not the weeds, and I can pull myself out. I chose this task and I can choose how to engage in it. I can enjoy the hard work and the fresh air. I can look up to the sunny sky and take a breath, look down on the tangled bramble and appreciate the work of cleaning and clearing and making it into something beautiful.
Yet, easier said than done. How do you climb out of this negativity when it all seems so real and immediate and all consuming?
To weed out this Doomsing Victim, I tell it to shut up and go away. Or better yet, laugh at it. I mean, here I am, on a beautiful day, doing what I want to do, and I’m letting a few weeds and a pricker bush ruin the whole thing? It may sound simple, but what if it really is as easy as calling the trait out for what it is, laughing at yourself and those negative thoughts going through your head. I am, afterall, the landscaper. I decide what to plant, what to nurture, and what grows both in the soil and in my mind. I take a breath, look down and I become focused on the task at hand rather than the negative voices in my head. The work becomes easier, lighter, and, dare I say, fun!
They are the same weeds, the same vines, the same back breaking work to cut and pull. The one thing that is different is my mind. I spend the rest of my day working happily and, at the end of the day, feel satisfied enjoying a beer looking over my good work. I’m proud not only of the result, but of myself and how I was able to weed out both my garden and my negative thoughts.