Soothing the Cynical Asshole
I recently attended a somewhat swanky mommy event. I am the polar opposite of swanky. By the end of most days, after chasing kids, and dogs, and dishes, and laundry, and werk, werk, werk, I’m more stanky than swanky. But I put on my vagina hugging, mom leggings, wore my best Groupon purchased sweater and bra, and cleanest pair of Chuck’s I could find (because I’m such a fucking rebel, I wear chuck’s to a swanky event) and off to La La Land I went. I was sponsoring a gift basket as a raffle prize and received 2 tickets to the event. I was excited and nervous and whenever I get that cocktail of feelings of anticipation, my anxiety starts to get the best of me. It’s at that precise moment, when my stomach starts to gurgle, turn upside down, that the little cynical asshole comes out of the depths of my psyche to play games with my synapses.
So we’re clear, to be cynical means, believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity. To be an asshole means, an irritating or contemptible person.
So here are three ways to help soothe the cynical asshole, before she/ he makes things awkward.
1. You better recognize!
After the event, I was scrolling through (Insta stalking) the Instagram feeds of some of the presenters from that night. One presenter posted a photo of herself leaning on a railing, the LA skyline twinkling in the background, her petite frame was draped in a flowy, boho, off the shoulder, dress (Probably not purchased on Groupon), and large, black sunglasses (again, probably not purchased on Groupon). She was staring at something just above the tree line and underneath her very Hollywood styled picture, the caption read “This Postcard Life”. Enter the cynical asshole…I rolled my eyes and made that throat sound, one tends to make when they are about to hock a loogie.
Let’s pump the breaks for a sec. Why was I scoffing at this picture, and more specifically, why was I scoffing at this woman? If the cynical asshole were to answer, she would say (if you would please read the following sentences while plugging your nose. It’s kind of how I imagine my inner asshole’s voice) “Pshshsh, this chick probably has a rich husband, and can hire a nanny to watch her one kid so she can work out, and why is she trying to make me feel bad about myself by making herself look like everything is perfect. Wah wah wah!”
The true and authentic answer is jealousy. I’m not talking about 90210 Brenda vs. Kelly jealousy (Were they not the best frenemies ever?!). More like, I wish my life and business were in a place that exuded as much confidence as this woman clearly possesses.
If you know me well, then you know how hard it is for me to take pictures of myself, I’m not one to put myself out into the ethers, dressed to the nines. If I’m posting a video or picture, more than likely I’m wearing a hoodie, my hair is a hot mess, and I’m not wearing any makeup. The quintessential mom that puts everyone and everything over her own needs, and I’m not bragging here, it’s a real problem that I’m working on. I don’t want to represent myself in a way that is anything other than myself. Besides, my friends would call me out on my bullshit if I ever began posting anything that wasn’t truly representative of who I truly am.
I had to RECOGNIZE that this woman was representing her true and authentic self. She may have reached a level of success that I want, and a level of success that is different from mine, but it’s not benefiting me to compare my successes to the successes of a complete stranger. When it comes to measuring success, we have to look inward. What have we done strategically, what goals have we set, and where do we see ourselves in 1,2, or 3 years? If we look at another’s image of success, and immediately think that they are purely motivated by their own self-interest and somehow their integrity is insincere, without even knowing the person, it’s our cynical asshole jumping up and interrupting our creative flow. Recognize that, so you can change it.
2. Give yourself a break
As I write this, I realize I am essentially giving myself advice, because to give yourself impunity from the pressures of your daily routine means taking care of your own specific needs. That’s a little scary.
If you are a parent, a business owner, a caretaker of any kind, an empath, a functioning member of society, and a perfectionist, we have an innate desire to care for others, an incredible quality to possess. However, while we weave our magic over all the other elements in our life, the fairy dust runs dry for ourselves. We…I…am a work in progress, and self care is a skill not easily acquired. We tell ourselves, “I went to the grocery store with out the kids, and it was heaven!” What a load of crap that is. That’s not self care, that’s doing normal everyday shit without the stress of chasing your kids all over the store because they are yelling that they want the poop emoji balloon on top of the register and are now fixated on yelling the word, “POOP!” in the store (true story).
Self care is rebooting our system. Going to the gym, going for a walk, reading a book, meeting up with friends, that is self care. Why do we turn mundane tasks like grocery shopping, into a self care moment? I have had to begin scheduling self care. Sounds ridiculous, but if I don’t, I won’t do it. So wether you use a physical calendar or your phones calendar, schedule in time for yourself and do not allow yourself to schedule over it, consider it as high of a priority as any other appointment. We are flexing and creating a new muscle in our spirit, so as with any other skill, it takes practice. More than likely we’ll prioritize things over our own time, but give yourself a break. If you schedule over your self care (you know you will), don’t beat yourself up over it. Negative self talk (spoiler alert) does not serve our higher good and only allows the universe to nurture the negativity. Nurture the positivity.
3. Stressed out to the max!
Some not so fun facts about stress and why it makes you a cynical asshole. (https://www.stress.org/stress-is-killing-you/) Stress is the basic cause of 60% of all human illness and disease. Three out of four doctor’s visits are for stress related ailments. Stress increases heart disease by 40%, increases heart attacks by 25%, and the risk of stroke by 50%.
Some of us need statistical evidence to see that our behaviors need to change. We get stuck in stressful states of mind which on the outside make us short tempered, quick to judge, cynical and fatigued. A cocktail of personality traits that bubble up like a clogged toilet, and nothing makes someone more contemptible and irritated than a clogged toilet, am I wrong?
So how exactly do we reduce stress? I’m not exactly sure, aside from the obvious things like exercise, diet, yoga, meditate, blah, blah, blah. That’s all well and good and can without a doubt, help you cope and reduce cortisol levels, but for me, stress can be put into two categories. The stressors you expect: bills, appointments, traffic, PMS. And the stressors you don’t expect: your daughter vomiting and catching said vomit in your hand, getting bit by a cat and needing an IV of antibiotics 2x a day for a week, having to carry your screaming, kicking, scratching daughter out of a store and abandon a grocery cart full of food because she is having a meltdown. The stressors you expect, are run of the mill stressors for the average person so I’m not going to spend time on those. It’s the stressors we don’t expect, that really fuck things up and turn my usual glowing personality (just a touch of sarcasm there) into a cynical asshole.
What I have learned since having a child that requires special needs, specifically in the area of behavior, is to look to the next day, the next hour, or even the next minute. The major level of stress that you are feeling in the precise moment, will be better by tomorrow. I can’t even allow myself to think about the potential for stress later. All I can do, right this second, given the circumstances, is know, that in an hour, I will be be an hour away from what I am feeling now. Even if the stressor involves bad news, like a terminal illness, in an hour you will have processed that information more, and shifted your thinking to adapt to the situation. There is a phrase that I often hear my fellow SMS (you can read our story here) and special needs families say, “Tomorrow is a new day”. We have all been caught off guard, in moments that rocked us to our guts, but tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow, you may not have clarity, but you will have perspective.
Perhaps it’s a defense mechanism. Like, maybe by removing my emotions, putting up my wall so that I can’t receive any sort of feedback, good or bad, I somehow remain in this social purgatory of anonymity. To those of us that are introverts, this is otherwise known as our “happy place”. But to the rest of the world, we can come off as assholes…or maybe I just come off as an asshole. Regardless, it’s up to us to recognize that while we may perceive someone to be selfishly motivated by self-interest, we don’t have the whole story. We perceive their motives to be unauthentic because the contemptible little asshole in our head is telling us to be threatened by another person’s success. It may feel shameful to admit that, but the fact that you are admitting (I am admitting it) is enough reason to give yourself a break from feeling this way. Literally, giving yourself a break, will lead to an open heart, after all, tomorrow is a new day.