”When you squeeze an orange, you’ll always get orange juice to come out. What comes out is what’s inside. The same logic applies to you: when someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, or says something unflattering or critical, and out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, tension, depression, or anxiety, that is what’s inside. If love and joy are what you want to give and receive, change your life by changing what’s inside,” – wrote the late and wise Wayne Dyer on his Facebook page shortly before he passed away.
I thought a lot about his words over the past few weeks, as I found myself squeezed and seeing what came out of me.
When I returned from Sri Lanka at the end of January, I was overfilled with joy, calm and love. I had stored so much positivity and vitality during my 6-week travels that returning back to a very demanding contract job didn’t exert the usual feelings of anxiety, depression, lack of energy and despair. But two months in, I had ran out of the good juice and found myself back in the complaining seat. I had accumulated so much frustration and exhaustion that I began to feel like a massive inflamed spot filled with toxic liquid. Gone were the days of being patient, and happy and smiling, regardless of what the working day brought. I reverted back to the same attitude I’ve had all my life in relation to professional work: negative, spiteful, feeling victimised and despising everything about it. My head hurt from the intellectual demands, I always felt rushed and stressed and robbed of the mental space and the time I needed to do simple things like going to the gym or writing (even once in a while). Slowly I began to let that frustration out at home and my fiancee, as patient as he had been at the beginning, started to hate hearing me complain and made sure he told me so. Offended at first, but realising I had abused his patience, I started to notice that I was negative in everything I did: in my conversation with friends, replying to a Facebook comment, on a train or on the street. I was surrounded by a black cloud and that was where I wanted to stay.
One day, I started to question myself. Where was this attitude coming from? I’ve always worked hard when I had to, I just did it with a morose and spiteful attitude. Was it the fact that I didn’t know how to set-up healthy boundaries in my work life? I had always either bent backwards to do everything that I was asked to do or refused to do anything. I hadn’t been able to find a middle ground, for years. And once again, I found myself in the same spot. Wondering what kind of a project manager I was if I couldn’t handle my work load, prioritise and manage expectations, least of all my own. I realised that when the push came to shove at work, I was spitting out toxic waste. And I know that’s because I am in a career I don’t necessarily love, a career I’m only choosing temporarily in order to finally be able to dedicate myself to writing and a more simple life, but that’s just how life works. I just didn’t like it.
What was the point, I wondered to rebel against something I had chosen to do. What was the point of complaining, I also wondered, when I know for a fact complaining doesn’t solve problems, it only enhances them.
I didn’t know. I guess that’s what I’ve always done and when the going gets tough I go back to tried and tested behaviour. But at least now I know. I know that I can do better. I just need to squeeze all the bad stuff our until there’s nothing left and flex my positive muscles all over again.
Because that’s how life is: once you figure one thing out, the next squeeze comes along. And I sure hope next time it will be orange juice.