What's your squeaky wheel?
When I was a medical assistant, the saying 'the squeaky wheel gets the oil' was used for patients causing a scene that needed to be taken care of immediately. But, as I observe my life, I see that this saying goes deeper than that.
The thing that is causing you the most annoyance, is the thing that requires your attention in order to change.
When you seek to improve any aspect of your life, the easiest place to start is to become aware of the situations causing you the most annoyance. Kind of like studying for an exam, you don't study everything, instead you focus on the things you don't know. If you want a better outcome, focus on your weaknesses.
The biggest struggle of this is accepting 100% personal responsibility. It doesn't matter who said what, who did what, or what outside factors are involved. At the end of the day, something you decided prior to today has brought you to where you are right now, therefore, what you do today will ultimately affect the future version of yourself.
One of the biggest squeaky wheels I have ever experienced was years ago I was at a job that I wasn't happy with and it was causing me a lot of unnecessary anxiety. In fact, I was so unhappy that I believe it was the combination of my job and a stressful life event that triggered my fibromyalgia. Although the work environment was toxic at times, a lot of the stress of my job was due to my mindset that I should be experiencing something different. After years of struggling with stomach aches, head aches, ocular migraines, and just an overall feeling of being burnt out, I decided to try and seek a new job. But I was unsuccessful. Interview after interview, nothing worked out. I came to the conclusion that THERE MUST BE SOMETHING I'M SUPPOSED TO LEARN FROM THIS. I couldn't understand any other reason for my misery. I simply changed my mindset from "I don't deserve this" to "I have something to learn here." That's when my job improved. When I felt my patience thinning, I knew it was being tested. When I felt overworked, I knew it was my work ethic being tested. Little by little the daily frustrations seemed to ease and where I used to feel burdened instead I felt empowered to endure a struggle. I knew with each struggle I would get a little better at taking the punches, and some skill of mine would be sharpened. Every day for nearly 3 years I showed up believing that whatever the struggle was, it was there to help me improve something. Sure enough, one morning, with very little effort, I applied for a job, and got it, same day. It turned out to be the best job I've had thus far.
The mind is a powerful thing. I love the saying "your brain is like a super computer and the self-talk is the program it will run." - Jim Kwik (although, he didn't actually come up with this quote. It's from a book about how to run a marathon).
Now, whenever I am faced with a difficult task I always start with evaluating my mindset before I take action. The best part about it, as I evolve, my mindset can evolve too. This way, as one aspect of my life improves, I can switch gears and begin to pick up the slack in another area. If I'm not sure what area of my life to focus on improving next...the squeaky wheel will remind me.
Maybe it's a coworker that hurt your feelings and you still struggle to make peace with them. Maybe it's tension in your relationship/marriage because of some needs that aren't being met. Maybe it's your health/wellness declining and knowing that you aren't doing everything you could to improve it. Maybe it's refusing to heal from trauma and allowing it to manifest in other areas of your life. Whatever the scenario, there is absolutely one aspect of it that you have full and complete responsibility for, and that is your perception of it. The wonderful thing is, you are allowed to change your perception.
One of the most freeing things I've said to myself is, "I'm allowed to change my mind."
Years ago, before I had kids, I was terrified of having kids. It almost destroyed my marriage. It probably blew some minds when I announced I was pregnant, because for so many years I talked about how I didn't believe I was fit to be a Mother. But, I focused on the areas of my life that were squeaking and got pregnant. After I had Caleb, I couldn't believe how silly I'd been for being so afraid. It was the most intense love I've ever experienced.
Then, I had Camryn. And instead of feeling a magical intense love, I felt trapped and depressed. Healing from my second C-section, carrying an extra 50 lbs for the second time, and feeling like everyone needed all my attention all the time made me want to run away. I felt like I lost who I was. Worst of all, I felt judged by myself, guilty for wanting more for myself than just being a wife and mother. I decided to go back to work part-time, put Caleb in part-time preschool, and go to the gym every day to utilize their 2 hours of childcare at kidsclub. It transformed me into a significantly happier person. But, something was still off. I couldn't put my finger on it.
One day I went up to LA with the boys to a Spiritual Gangster sample sale. They had a Tarot reader and I love all that sort of psychic stuff so I convinced the boys to wait for a reading.
When it was my turn, the woman across from me introduced herself and gave me a run down of the type of reading she was going to do for me. To get started she needed to know if there was some question I needed answered. There had been a question burning in my mind for months. Nagging at me for months. I say, "I want to know if I'm living my purpose." The woman smiles and tells me, how perfect the question is, because she had already had a feeling before I sat down. She begins to read the cards. Eight of Pentacles, there is a skill I am supposed to be working on, and I need to continue hard work and learning. The moon, confront some of your most overwhelming feelings, try not to analyze what is happening, don't get distracted by fear. The world, triumph, fulfillment, happiness, certainty.
I walked away that day feeling like I was on the right path. Wasn't sure where I was headed, but I was on the right path.
Fast forward to now. I don't have my part-time job anymore. Can't take the kids to kidsclub. No more school for Caleb. And although this could be temporary, it's likely going to be the new normal for some time. For a moment yesterday, I felt like I did when I first had Camryn, depressed by the idea of being stuck at home, restricted to certain activities, and drained by caretaking. Then I had a lightbulb, ah-ha moment. I feel as though I tried to get out of what the universe intended for me. It wanted me to be 100% present as a parent, as a wife, as a home maker, against my will. I didn't want to accept that its quite possibly exactly where I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing with my life right now. It's also possible that there are certain skills necessary for being really good at this "job." Skills that may be weak in me. In fact, I know for certain I need to improve some skills because the squeakiest wheel in my life right now is this. It's the thing I want to escape from, so it must be the thing I need to run to.
So I changed my mindset from, "I can't wait to go back to work" to "My family is my most important work." I have a deep knowing that whatever I'm meant to learn from todays experiences is going to serve the future me.
Don't get it twisted, my kids still drove me out of my fucking mind today. It's a work in progress. I'm accepting that here is where I am supposed to be. I'm practicing awareness of when I feel like I want to escape and how I can continue to be present in the chaos. It's making me mindful of how much attention I am truly giving my children and what habits they witness me engage in.
I feel like the universe just sat me back down for a lesson that I tried to get out of learning. You'll know if this is happening to you because it'll be some common theme that shows up in your life. It'll be some situation you keep reliving in your head but refuse to change your perception. Or it'll be a conversation that recurs and you refuse to act differently. And don't think you can fool the universe, it knows the intention behind everything you do.
What's the squeaky wheel in your life that you refuse to oil?