The Toolbox

Want to see me really lose my cool? Tell me to do something and then give me neither the materials necessary to complete the task nor the instructions for how to do it correctly. Whenever this happens, not just anger, but an entire wave of emotions sweep over me – embarrassment, confusion, shame, fear, inadequacy, resentment, anxiety. You know, basically all the emotions of a 6-year-old who’s just been asked to take out the garbage for the first time.

Put me in a situation where I know what to do and am able to execute and succeed, though, and I’m one of the happiest people you’ll ever see. It’s like finding yourself in need of performing some type of repair and suddenly realizing you have a toolbox with exactly the right tool for the job at your disposal.

I am a “how-to” kind of person. No, I don’t mean I enjoy watching countless hours of This Old House (That would be my wife.) or house2tooling around in a shop behind my house. I need to know the process of how things work. For example, let’s say someone told me to paint my living room (I’ve painted before, but I couldn’t think of another example.). I wouldn’t just go out and buy some paint and go to town. I’d want someone to either show or tell me the right way to do it and then emulate their example as closely as I could. I’d want to access what I know and apply it.

For years and years, I had no idea what to do with the feelings of depression and anxiousness that seemed to hover over me. I wanted to fix them, but I didn’t know how. I had a lot of well-meaning folks along the way offer me sound (and not-so-sound) advice, but I could never figure out the process, you know? “Think more positively.” Okay, but how do I do that? What steps do I go through? What tools do I need to complete the job?

I’ve mentioned counseling and cognitive therapy here before, and I’m entering into a season where I’m not going to be relying on that so much anymore. Being kicked out of the nest, so to speak. I’ve spent a great amount of time discussing and dissecting how exactly to get my brain to jump from one track to the other, and a funny thing happened along the way: I found out some of the things we talked about actually worked. There actually was a process I could follow … and that’s what I have to do now.

And so begins another chapter in this blog and in this life, where I try to sort all this out. I’m a little nervous and afraid, and I may even wind up in another therapy session or two one of these days. For now, though, I’ve got some tools in the toolbox … and I’m ready to go to work.

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