Long post warning, but it’s about anxiety in detail, so if you’re interested in my experiences….
I have written in the past about the Emotional Checkbook. I don’t know how standard an idea it is, but I like it. We have an emotional bank account with the people in our lives, as well as one overall. What that means is that we have a certain about of emotional cost we can take as well as emotional deposits we can accept. Some people have built up a lot in that account, some not so much and there is a general overall account.
For example: A new GF/BF doesn’t have a lot built up in the account. There’s the initial deposit (attraction) and things they do that show you they care such as how they treat you, romantic gestures, how well they listen and interact, etc… However, as the account hasn’t built up very much, it’s pretty easy for someone to make too many withdrawals. A withdrawal is when you have to spend emotional capital such as when they do someone insensitive, when they lean on you for support, when they ask for favors, etc… When someone is making more withdrawals than deposits, we begin to feel used, that the other person doesn’t care about us and eventually, if the account bounces too many checks, we’ll close it out by dumping that person.
I believe that we have these accounts for EVERY relationship in our lives. Even with inanimate things: I get terrible service at this store, and while they have lower prices, I just don’t feel it’s worth putting up with the bad things. My job pays well, but they treat me poorly, what I do doesn’t matter and I am not connect to my co-workers. Over time, every day is an emotional withdrawal and I only get “deposits” when I get paid or when they give free food.
Even in long term friendships, there’s that checking account. I once has a long-term friendship where eventually, the other person never asked how I was doing and never offered any sort of emotional support. It got to the point where I would time our conversations, and if she hadn’t asked anything about me after a half hour, I would end the conversation politely. By that point, checks were bouncing and I closed out the account. In another case, we had an issue that the other person refused to deal with maturely, and every conversation was either telling me how terrible I was or asking to borrow money. I had to close that account as well.
Currently, I am dealing with a few issues, but I have thought about how I am feeling and why, even though I feel alone, I don’t want to deal with people and spend a lot of time convincing myself to maintain the close friendships I have. Part of it is how anxiety works. “If you people don’t like me, then screw you all!” is the irrational way the issue messes with your head.
In both of my jobs, I am giving to other people. My full-time job is about helping people understand and resolve issues with their benefits, and if you don’t think people get stressed out when there is an issue with their medical benefits, you’re kind of sheltered. For the past three months, it’s been far busier than projections and we are asking people to verify their dependents, so if they don’t have proper documents, their spouses or children could lose medical coverage. That takes a lot out of you, emotionally.
THEN, at the group home job, I’m there a lot, the clients are very dependent on you for things, they can do things that get you upset and you have to keep being patient and kind (even when they are being jerks) and even when it’s calm and you’re doing everyday interactions, it’s another withdrawal.
So, add that together and I now understand why I feel so tired, anxious, and stressed. My emotional checkbook is bouncing checks all over the place, so the slightest thing can make me feel like things aren’t going to go well. A slow response from someone makes me think I have done something to make them hate me (which has actually happened before) and I mentally write them off. What might be good natured ball-busting comes off to me as anger toward me. I know people laugh at the whole “trigger” thing, but the one thing I have learned isn’t just to feel an emotion, but to understand what is causing it before I act on it. Maybe that’s why people say I always seem calm.
Or, I’ve lived in Minnesota so long, I’ve learned never to outwardly show emotions.
Much love to friends old and new, and I hope that people are making desposits in your emotional checkbook constantly!