Positive reflection has not been my forte to date. If I’ve ever made progress in anything I would tend to only focus on what is still left to achieve, rather than what I have accomplished. Typical for a perfectionist I suppose.
However, this week has been a major turning point for me, and I’ve found myself in the throws of positive reflection of all I’ve accomplished so far since starting therapy, so I wanted to share.
Accepting negative emotions
This one is massive. Anxiety feels horrendous, so it was a shock to me to understand it’s actually a coping mechanism to avoid negative emotions. Feeling crap to avoid feeling crap! It’s a distraction from the harsh reality that lays before me (or typically doesn’t lay before me, but I think it does, because anxiety has warped my general perception of innocent situations).
Now I’m learning to stop when I’m anxious, to acknowledge what it is I’m afraid of – is there something I can do about it? Or do I just need to accept that whatever it is might feel awful, but that’s life, know that I will get through it and let the emotions in. It’s OK if I’m not OK.
External validation and reassurance
The effects of someone else validating or reassuring me were only ever temporary, but its addictive like a drug. In order to wean myself off I have to force myself to work through challenges on my own as much as possible, and fight the urge to get that comfort elsewhere. This helps to rewire my brain away from the default of anxiety, and build up confidence in myself.
Haha er yeah, so I’m now aware of why I talk so much, and I have improved a bit, but I think I may always be a talker. And do you know what? That’s OK, that’s part of what makes me, me.
I usually hate mess, dirt and clutter… This week at Buddies restaurant, my toddler filled his glass of water with a bunch of paper napkins, then squeezed them out all over the table, seat, floor and himself. That might sound standard to some parents, but that was a big deal for me! The floor was disgusting, it looked like we’d been playing spit balls! But I happily let it happen, my boy thoroughly enjoyed himself, and we cleaned up afterwards. No harm done.
Saying what I mean
Marge identified that a lot of my anxiety actually comes from surpressing my real thoughts and feelings, incase someone disapproves. Because, as I’ve mentioned before, a few individuals over my life time have taught me to fear them should they disapprove. This one has been surprisingly easy to change, because I know now that most will not have any crazy controlling reaction to my real thoughts and feelings and so there is nothing to fear, I’m not rude or horrible, jeez! I’m just honest if I do or don’t like something, and what I do or don’t want to do. Speaking out has resulted in a few bombs going off that I’ve always feared, but instead of feeling the need to beg for reconciliation, I’ve been OK with letting those relationships go, as they weren’t healthy for either party.
Escaping the house
My house had started to feel like a cage. I couldn’t bear the idea of going out when Daddy was home to help, let alone in the week on my own. It is A LOT of effort. Getting everyone dressed and out of the house in any sort of timely manner is a challenge, keeping everyone happy once we’re out is another, let alone juggling everything around their different sleep and grub requirements. BUT in the last week we’ve gone for every outing we could, regardless of the challenges…
That messy trip to Buddies I mentioned? Yeah, both boys were ratty and knackered when we first arrived because we’d been at Salcey Forest all day, but we made it work and everyone ended up happy. Usually we’d have run home.
The night before, we had a takeaway with family when the baby should have been asleep at home, and that would normally stress me out. This time? He slept on the living room floor, perfectly happy and safe.
Tuesday, mother dear joined us for a trip to Stoke Bruene canal so I could take my eldest on a boat ride, he loved it! That one makes me all teary now as I write it, because I got to make a wonderful memory with my boy. I think that one will always stay with me.
Tomorrow we have an Easter egg hunt, and a Sunday lunch. Monday we’re at a wedding all day. It will come with its stressful moments but it’s worth it to make the memories, and just live! Bring it on!
Letting go of perfectionism
In one of my sessions with Marge, I’d prepared a list of issues to work on because we were eating through the limited sessions rapidly, and I was worried we weren’t going to get enough done. Perfectionism was one of the points on that list…and yet I remember thinking something along the lines of “if I can just fix all these things I’ll have nothing to worry about”. I’ll fix perfectionism by making everything perfect. LOL. Nice one.
Now I’m moving from perfectionist to more of a that’ll do-ist. Of all these things I’ve reflected on here, I know now I will never ever get them to a point of perfection. There will be times when I will still lean on others for validation and reassurance, talk without pausing for breath, have to clean everything in sight, not say what I mean, hide indoors, and beat myself up because something isn’t perfect.
Being able to accept all of that, makes me feel happy, content and most of all, free. Free to be me, mistakes and all.