100 to 0 Real Quick: Emotional resilience through distraction

I’m one of the most stubborn people that I know, but I’m also one of the most rapidly-changing. I’ve become a professional at walking away. I’m also incredibly emotionally resilient, but it doesn’t come from a place of being well-adjusted or self-assured.

It’s because I’m really fucking easily distracted.

When I was younger, I was deeply unhappy. I had depression. I kind of hated people. I was as isolated as you could get. And I wasn’t willing to change it.

I could hang onto anger, sadness, or pain over small situations for months. I had a crush on a guy. He rejected me. My 15-year-old brain sent me into a six-month meltdown. It was ugly.

Something changed at some point in my life. Maybe it was walking away from my marriage, maybe it was starting to listen to Ke$ha. Whatever it was, my mentality shifted.

I became what I am today: happy, outgoing, bubbly, enthusiastic, and simple.

For the last several years, I’ve been able to cope with difficult situations, harsh criticisms, flat-out hatred from people I barely know, rejection, failure, and frustration. With a smile on my face. And a skip in my step.

I think I finally figured out why this is: shiny objects.

Getting stood up

After work on Tuesday, I was supposed to go on a date with a guy. He stood me up by not setting any specific meeting place or time and just kind of not responding to my text message when I left work.

A couple years ago, this would have shattered me.

That’s fine.

I went on a drive around the city instead. It was a beautiful night. With the windows rolled down and Ke$ha’s “Take it Off” blaring, I drove to the park and hopped on a swing set. Another of my friends texted me out of nowhere and I ended up spending the rest of the late evening hanging out with him.

Then I came home, wrote, and went to sleep.

Does it suck to get stood up? Of course.

But I was over it in minutes. I had a great night.

My worst critics

I recently had a rough experience at one of my jobs.

A guest had come to the desk to ask for a few different items and had found a few issues with her room. I resolved everything, got her the supplies she needed, and otherwise did my job. With a smile! I don’t mind helping guests. They’re paying for an enjoyable experience. They deserve that.

She called back from her room. She had forgotten to ask for one more thing, so I offered to have my houseman run it up to her, to save her the steps. She said okay, but asked me to have him meet her outside her room, down the hallway, since she had dogs in her room. I arranged it.

Apparently, when my houseman dropped off the items, she chose to tell him that the entire staff at our hotel had been nothing but rude to her – especially “that guy at the front desk.”

I was caught off guard. I’d felt like I’d been doing really well at being exceptionally friendly all day. I felt comfortable in my job. Everything was going well.

And then that happened.

So for about 15 minutes, I was grumpy, hurt, and confused. What had I done wrong?

But then another guest struck up a conversation about going to the baseball game that night, and I got over it. Everything was fine.

On Tuesday, I posted an article about the art of letting go – recognizing that you can’t do an injustice against you justice, and that you can’t hurt enough to make someone else feel remorseful.

Part of letting go is finding something to replace that hurt with. I’m not sure why I’m good at this – I may never know what exactly makes me move on so quickly – but I do think there’s value in being easily distracted.

Sometimes, I’ve noticed my friends hanging onto a negative situation while I’m trying to help them cheer up and feel better. I’ll see a smile and hear a laugh. The subject will change to happier things. 30 minutes will pass and all is well. And then the smile suddenly fades and they’ve put themselves right back in the situation they’d pulled through.

I think a lot of us are in love with our own suffering. We’re fascinated with our pain. But we don’t have to be. If you see a way to shift your mood and be happy, take it. Listen to more Ke$ha. Drive aimlessly around your city. Look at pictures of puppies. And once you’ve walked away from a bad situation, don’t go back to it. Just keep walking.

There are a lot more shiny objects ahead of you than there are in the past.

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