Today I woke up feeling a bit cranky. No big deal. That happens sometimes. I don’t usually worry about it because I know that moods shift with the ebb and flow of life. So I fed the cat, took the dog out for her morning constitutional, and came back home to Skype with my wife, who is away from home at a conference for the next few days. I could tell I was still kind of cranky, but during our conversation I was taken over by a big wash of cranky feelings. I realized I had put on the Cranky Pants of Envy!
What are those? you may ask. The CPE are the metaphorical trousers that are so restrictive and uncomfortable that we lose brain power and think that someone else has a better pair of pants, better car or house or clothing, more wonderful job, more understanding parents, kinder friends, cooler partner, and we wish for our life or situation to be like theirs. The CPE make us cranky because we somehow feel diminished or lessened because of what we perceive in someone else.
Some folks confuse the CPE with the Dark Cloak of Jealousy, but the DCJ comes with the fear of losing a relationship due to the effects of a third party and envelops the wearer in suspicion, anxiety, and hypervigilance around the partner/friend/colleague and the “intruder”. That’s not the CPE.
Here’s why my Cranky Pants of Envy showed up today: My wife is at a work-related conference, and she gets to take some interesting classes, interact with her peers, see some friends, and be reminded of not only how cool her job is, but also how cool she is. My wife is a Captain with the FDNY, and she IS really cool!
While she is attending this conference for women in fire service, I am home doing home things. I work for myself, so I have busy times and slow times. This week, while she is away, I am in a slow time. I don’t have an out-of-the home office; I use video calls for my counseling sessions which means that I also do much of the home-making work because I don’t commute and am not gone much of the day.
Most of the time I like this arrangement just fine…no need to wear the CPE. Some days, like today, I am sure that I want something else, some job location where I can be seen and appreciated for how cool I am, a way to be validated by others that my work is valuable, interesting, meaningful…and that I am, too. I miss the parts of my work that involve leading classes or delivering a sermon at a worship service, which I used to do more frequently before I moved here to NYC 9 months ago. I miss my network, my colleagues, and my friends. And I put on the CPE when I project onto someone else my perception that they have what I do not. Today the focus of my projection was my wife, but it could be anyone, really. The CPE don’t care where they draw their energy from, they just need a focus.
So, what am I going to do to get out of the Cranky Pants of Envy? First, I had to acknowledge that I was wearing them, and that my feelings were not the result of something someone had done to me. I texted my dear wife and apologized for being short-tempered during our call, and I named my feelings of envy. Suddenly, the CPE felt looser. Since then, I have been going about my day, doing my best to stay present to what is happening in the moment. That helps, too. I also took about 20 minutes to lie down and breathe and let my mind be fully present in my body, not making up stories about all the “stuff/opprotunities/etc.” I don’t have. It helps to remember that all my needs are met, that this moment is just wonderful, and that my desire for more or different does not have to negate my appreciation for what I experience right now.
Also, I recognize that being dis-satisfied is a fantastic opportunity to visualize and take steps toward building that which I want to experience. I am not incapable of making changes, so I can take the energy that being envious uses up and reapply that to taking action toward my dreams. It doesn’t even have to be a big action. Any small step in the direction of my desire shows the Universe that I’m willing to put my energy into this creation, and often that willingness starts a larger flow of energy toward meeting that desire.
So, I still feel a bit cranky, but I’m no longer gasping for breath because the CPE have got me so tightly in their grip, and I’m not denying my feelings to myself or anyone else . Later today or tomorrow, this mood will have moved on, and I’ll be able to move on, too. I can use my energy to focus on creating what I do want, and that’s powerful!