This is going to sound completely obnoxious, but since it’s another self-help week around here, I’m going to come out and write this anyway. Just bear with me. I know people have “real” problems. I’ve had real problems. I have perspective, don’t worry. Just humor me for another day or two.
There’s a progression that always happens the same way whenever I run into a problem. Sometimes this takes weeks. Other times, it happens in a single day. There’s no set time period for this thing, but I always know exactly what level I’m on because it’s blatantly obvious when I’ve gone from one to the next. The steps look something like this:
Denial: At first, I don’t really understand the problem, and I’m often the last one to notice that anything’s amiss. The window of opportunity for solving the problem typically closes while I’m skating along, oblivious to what’s actually going on, and I’m not paying enough attention to see it.
Panic: Oh shit, there’s a problem! What the fuck do I do?!? This has to stop right now! By this time, everything’s snowballed, and I’m way too late. I throw everything but the fucking sink at the problem, but it’s over with, and there’s nothing I can do but regroup and wait it out.
Resignation/Depression: Woe is me. This sucks. Why did this happen to me? Why am I such a slapdick? This is probably the worst one, because I relive the whole damned thing all day long, and it keeps getting worse and worse. At this point, I’ll come as close as I’m likely to come to compromising my principles in order to make the situation go away.
Anger: Fuck these motherfuckers for backing me into a corner like this. Motherfuckers. I’m out for blood here, looking for someone to blame. This is particularly unpleasant when it’s my own fault, because I’ll beat the piss out of myself more than I’ll ever fuck with anyone else. That’s kind of my thing.
Perspective/Relief/Laughter: What the fuck was that all about? This one is pretty self-explanatory. This is a good day. I’m still sort of in and out of being pissed off and upset, but the surges of “good” feel like hits off a crack pipe.
Scar Tissue/Renewed Confidence: Damn, it’s fucking great to be me. This is where you want to be, because you’re better than you were before. You’ve learned something. You’ve taken something back that you’d lost for a while. You’re ready to get moving again.
I’m transitioning between the penultimate and ultimate steps in this progression right now, so you can take solace in the notion that these wack job posts won’t go on for much longer. The best part of the final step is finally getting a handle on the situation. Getting control back. For most of this deal, it’s been out of my control, which has obviously sucked, but that part’s coming to an end.
Now comes the reckoning: the part where I realistically, rationally, and reasonably – armed with control and perspective – figure out what actually happened and take the appropriate action or set of actions.
In other words, the fun part.