The task given to me this week on the Comeback pathway is to reflect on where my thoughts and feelings naturally orient to in the everyday and in challenging situations. What patterns of behaviour do I habitually turn to when things get a bit tough, where does my attention go?
As I read through the activity I thought to myself, ‘Oh, I’m a pretty positive person’. However, as I purposefully took note of how I respond to challenges, it’s different to what I expected.
My list of observations:
- If I have applied a set of preconceived expectations to how things should pan out and something happens to derail that, I find that I am quick to orient towards the negative ~
- my attention turns towards the things I, or others, have lost because of the challenge ~ example: Alex’s birthday wasn’t super fun because our little boy was having a bad day; I felt like I’d failed to make the day special and was upset about that, when all Alex wanted was to be with me and Jack
- It may not be the actual challenge that really upsets me, but my response to it ~
- if I respond negatively to a challenge, I am able to step back and see that, but then I go on a path of self-flagellation that I shouldn’t have responded that way, which is far worse than the challenge itself
- I think this is a symptom of perfectionism – I have seen my response to the challenge as imperfect and thus I beat myself up for that
- an example: Jack was having a really trying day during a growth spurt, we went out for a walk up the road to a cafe, I asked my husband to take Jack’s long pants off because it was getting quite warm, this woke Jack up from his nap and then he cried…a lot…I then blamed myself for waking him up and then I felt the entire day was “ruined” because of my poor choice
- I use the word “ruined” A LOT
- Usually to describe what I’ve done to a day by reacting poorly to things going badly
- Sometimes to things going awry outside my control but more often than not it’s because I feel I’ve made a mistake, and that is definitely not OK
- I find it hard to let go of what has happened and return to a light and happy mood for the remainder of the day; I let the experience mar the whole day rather than keeping it in the small window of time that it actually affected
- When I am working with my horse I tend to follow this pattern of self-recrimination too ~
- If we have a bad session I will often hone in on the things I did wrong and then feel very guilty about them for some time ~ usually if I was to get angry at Essie or if I was insensitive to her needs (even if I didn’t realise it at the time)
- If my attention has gone towards feelings of anger at myself, physically I notice a tightness or heaviness in my chest, like there’s a stone sitting there pulling me downwards; I also notice a tension in my arms and legs, like they need to be really active to release it
- A one word description of what I’ve noticed about my responses to challenges: GUILT
I think when it comes down to it, the problem I face is being kind to myself. I would never blame other’s like I blame myself. I would never hold a grudge on others like I hold against myself if I make a mistake. Mistakes are part of life, and often they are the very best way to learn a lesson well.
I’m looking forward to the next stages of this comeback journey ~ gaining the resources to re-pattern my responses and reset and move forwards.