There are several underground therapeutic terms that circulate in the counseling biz. "CRAP" is one of them. It represents your issues, challenges, unresolved conflict, and unfinished business that tend to interfere with having a good day and a fulfilling life. It can show up as insecurity, fear, anger, addiction, jealousy, conflict, depression, body issues, trust issues, anxiety, and much, much more.
But it all filters down appropriately into one very scientific and professional term: CRAP.
"You're crap is getting in your way."
"Aren't you tired of being stuck in the crap?"
"You are taking on other people's crap."
These are common phrases that have come out of my mouth. There are two primary types of personal crap: (a) that you are experiencing in that moment, and (b) that is leftover from your past. Regardless of what type of crap you are in, the healthiest thing you can do is own and trust in it. When you take accountability, and trust the crap is there to help you grow, that is when the magic happens. Here are seven ways to do that:
1. Admit you have crap. The first step in persevering and growing from your crap is to know you are in it, or that you have it. Without the accountability or awareness, you will usually project and blame others for it, and most likely push them away. Or you will walk away from many interactions feeling regretful or unsatisfied.
2. Get to know your crap in two ways:
(a) In the crappy moment. What does it look and feel like when you are in your crap? In your body? What are you feeling? What are the thoughts that come up? Really get to know your "crappy movie" so that when it starts to play, you know to do Step 4. Write it down.
(b) In your overall life. Look for the patterns/common threads in your history that have been crappy. Have you consistently sabotaged jobs, friendships, or relationships? Do you have trust issues? Past trauma? Are you a blamer? Do you doubt yourself constantly? Are you a worry wombat? Do you shut down? Do you keep your feelings inside? When you want to cry do you bust a vein trying to keep it inside? Are you given nicknames like "Negative Norm?" or "The Ice Queen"? What would each of your exes say was the one thing about you they did not like? Write it down.
3. Don't be a victim of your crap. Look your crap in the eye and say, "I see you, and I'm going to thrive from you!" or "I'm going to chew you up and spit you out!" (okay maybe not that one). Make a choice to change what you do not want and accept that it may be challenging. Changing old patterns can be tough, so take some time to give yourself lots of patience and compassion (like you would a child). And keep going, even when you feel like giving up (remember Step 7).
4. Learn how to take care of your crap internally. Do something other than nothing. FYI: "biting the bullet" is not considered a therapeutic method. The moment you notice that you are in the crap: shut up, stop what you are doing, and breathe. Slow the moment down by taking long, deep breaths. Give yourself time to take care of it. Ask yourself, "What am I feeling right now?" And get the answer (mad, sad, glad, or worried). Then ask, "What do I need to take care of myself right now internally?" Here's one way to do that (look for the more fulfilling, provocative version in the future):
Go to a private area, even a bathroom stall or your car, and practice the *Stress Relief Breath (SRB): (1) Inhale all of the negative feeling (stress, worry, frustration) up into the throat, and (2) Let it go on the exhale with a long sigh (about three times longer than the inhale). Repeat until you feel a shift. Practice one now.
5. Introduce your crap to others... in advance. You teach others about how to be with you. Part of that teaching has to do with your not-so-incredibly-awesome side. Get vulnerable -- it is the glue in all relationships -- open up and share what you learned in Steps 1 and 2. When you own, understand, and support your crap others will be more open to do the same. If you have scars from your past, let your partner know how that might show up in your relationship. If you know that you tend to be short-tempered or have trust issues, put out a public safety announcement. And then...
6. Take ownership of your crap when it shows up. Even it if just shows up a little. The more accountability you have, the more likely you are to take care of it, especially during a conflict. If there are a 1000 people in the room watching and they agree that your part was 20 percent -- still take ownership of that 20 percent.
7. Trust in the crap. Practice trusting in how life unfolds. Your crap is a powerful mirror for you. Look a little deeper when your crap comes up. Ask yourself: What is my lesson? Why was this challenge brought to me? How can I grow and persevere? Write down the answers.
Next post: Day One of my prison sentence
*Stress Relief Breath © 2011 No Stress Foundation