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Exhaustion – Physical, Mental or Spiritual – is Harmful to Your Attitude

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: alancleaver_2000

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.

— Helen Keller

Ellie and I have written it before, and I’ll write it again… ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING!  Admittedly, this isn’t new news.  Ellie and I have been beating this drum since we started this blog, but today, I met the living proof of this truism.

I noticed this lady because of how happy she seems to be, she smiles all the time, AND because she called me by name when we’d never been introduced.  (It turned out that in addition to her other responsibilities, she also makes the security badges and knew my name from the badge.)

To be honest, I don’t smile all the time.  For various reasons, I’ve been irritable lately.  As I walk into work, I have to remind myself to get the frown off my face, lest someone think I’m frowning at them.  My general attitude has been more on the sour side and less on the sweet.  Life can do that to you… if you let it.

The reason that I noticed this lady is that while I’m having trouble smiling when I have a cushy job sitting at a computer all day writing training, she smiles while she cleans the restrooms and the cafeteria and pretty much everywhere I go.  Now, I’m not the most cheerful cleaner at home, so I don’t think I’d be all that cheerful if I had to do it for a living. (I’d probably have learned how to do it better, though.)

Most days I see Amalia when she takes her morning break but yesterday, Amalia wasn’t here.  She’d had to go in for her monthly checkup.  MONTHLY?  She’s had kidney disease for 11 years and is on dialysis – every night.  She’s been on the transplant list for the last four years.  Every single day, rain or shine, headache or cold, is a gift.  Knowing that at any time, her kidneys could get significantly worse and without a transplant, she could be gone very quickly, has let her appreciate every single day.

She admitted to me that she didn’t always have this attitude.  For a while she felt envious of other people’s health, other people’s jobs, of other people.  But as her health stabilized, she realized that she was lucky and she decided to appreciate what she had.

WHAM! – Pay Attention!

As I wrote at the beginning of this post, I’ve been on the sour side lately.  I’ve been letting my challenges get the better of me.  And what’s worse, I’ve been whining – not necessarily out loud, but in my head.  I’ve been telling myself that I don’t deserve all my troubles – that life shouldn’t be this hard –  BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.

WHAM!  The proverbial 2×4 has just hit me in the forehead.  Has it got my attention yet?  Not as much as I’d like.  I find it fascinating that despite this living lesson right in front of me, I still feel sour.  I have a veneer of cheerfulness, but like most veneers it’s only surface deep.  All that needs to happen is that I get overly tired or something doesn’t go right (like my keyboard dying in the middle of this post) and I’m over the edge – very quickly.

What’s A Girl To Do?

In his bestseller, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey talks about making sure that we keep investing in our relationships.  He describes our relationships with others as being like a bank account.  We need to make enough deposits to be able to make withdrawals.  If we get overdrawn, then the relationship can get into trouble.

I think that what’s happening with me is that I’ve overdrawn my personal energy account.  With all the challenges I’ve faced over the last couple of years, I held it together by sheer force of will.  “Everything will be OK.”  “We’ll be fine.”  “We’ll find a way.”  All of which turned out to be true, thanks to many friends who helped and contributed and prayed.  But my usual reserves aren’t there… and it takes almost nothing to overdraw the account.

The conclusion I’ve reached is that I need to let go of doing “everything.”  I need to put recovery first – then I can expect more of myself as I head back into the fray.  I don’t need to give up, I need to readjust.  Be kinder to myself; expect less from myself than I’ve been trying to force myself to give.  I know I’m better than I was two months ago.  I need to trust the process and heal.  Eventually, I’ll be back to my previous optimistic, cheerful self.  It just takes time.

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