Reset

I feel as if I have a reset button at the end of this week.

I’ve not planned past Friday (bar a few obvious essentials of having care and food).

I have vague thoughts of getting health and fitness back on track – motivation became subzero in the last few months. I’ll have to think about finding somewhere else to live and ponderings of rediscovering the “me”ness of me. But that’s all they are. Vague thoughts. The planning and execution of which will happen after Friday. After the big red button is pushed.

Any scifi/fantasy watchers out there will doubtless have seen a storyline involving the wrong version of a character – maybe the timeline got corrupted, maybe a transporter beam went awry, they got pulled in from a parallel universe or a spell went awry – and we as viewers know that this version is wrong, that for order to restored, for everything to be right again this character needs to be replace by the correct one – by the end of the episode the reset button will be hit and the wrong character will be replaced by the one we love. Then all is right with that world again. We know this. We expect this. We root for this.

But for the “wrong” character, all they know is they exist and they have to die. They may or may not agree with that, they may or may not know. But they stop existing.

This is the only way I can explain how I feel this week. Of course I know that I’m not going to stop existing. Surgery and general anaesthetic is scary but I don’t have a not going to wake up again fear. That’s not what this is, and I don’t mean to overdramatise things. But I do have a weird nebulous existential feeling that on Friday everything changes. I will go to sleep that afternoon. I will wake up sometime later that afternoon and everything will be different. I will be different. Irrevocably changed. There is no putting back what is taken (not that I want it anyway, it’s defective and needs to go).

The me that exists now, typing this, will not be the person who returns home at some point next week.

And as much as I have literally signed up for this. It’s an existential fear that just won’t quit.

See you on the other side…

 

 

Toddler brain

My anxiety can often be like a toddler having a tantrum.

I write this in full acknowledgement that I’m not a parent. But I’ve been around enough toddlers to see them melt down over the most random of stuff. And my anxiety does that too.

Unsurprisingly my anxiety is in storm force mode currently. It’s whirling around trying to find something to focus on. It’s amazing what you find when you’re looking for it.

Thinking of my anxiety symptoms like a toddler has helped me develop coping strategies.

1. Logic and reason. I can see parents shaking their heads already. Yes. This rarely works. But it’s always worth trying first. Acknowledge what’s going on and what’s being felt. Make a show of checking for monsters under the bed. Acknowledge not finding any. The reasons why we are safe. Sometimes it works. I can talk myself down. Often it doesn’t and we move on.

2. Love and hugs. Treats. Blankets. Time off. Bubble baths. Wine. Whatever this is for you. Yes it often involves spending money which sometimes means it can’t be done. It involves time which we don’t always have. If you can, give yourself a treat you won’t give yourself a hard time for later. Totally guilt free. Get cuddles from someone who won’t try and fix anything. Talk to yourself to find out what you need and deliver it. Be your own nurturing loving parent. After all we still love our toddlers even when they are throwing a tantrum and sometimes cuddles stop the tantrum. And sometimes they don’t.

3. Distraction. Ooooh shiny! Mindless TV, games, craft projects, books. The trick is something entertaining and engaging enough to keep the attention but not difficult or stressful. Again they his takes time which sometimes we don’t have so…

4. Time out. Sometimes we just have to get stuff done. We’ve tried everything else and it’s just not working and the job has to be done, the bills have to be paid. Sometimes I have to put my anxiety on a virtual naughty step and just let it cry it out. Breathe through it, wipe those sweaty palms and do the job. Later, when there’s time, there will be a prize. And it can be anything you like (that is feasibly within your ability and budget to get) because you’ve had to tough it out.

This are my coping strategies. Yours may vary 🙂 these work for me. They don’t go in order. I don’t go from 1-4. Often I know which one to pick but sometimes I don’t. Sometimes a tried and tested technique fails. Sometimes they all fail. But only sometimes. Like with toddlers, consistency is important, following through is important. Don’t promise yourself a treat and don’t deliver. Don’t have a treat then give yourself a hard time over it!

The toddler in our heads may not grow up. But at least it won’t become a teenager!

It begins

2016 sucked, 2017 will be much better – was the general hopeful statement over the festive season and each time I swallowed back my reaction with a variable amount of success and thought, no, not for me, not for a while, roll on 2018, can I have a Tardis please, can I just fast forward to the bit where everything is okay again and everything is healed both physically and emotionally. Can I just skip over this bit?

But of course it doesn’t work that way. We walk the slow path, step by step, making what choices we can with each one and hoping each step is moving us in the right direction.

2017 sees me undergoing both marriage separation, something that’s only recently entered the public domain, and major surgery – subtotal abdominal hysterectomy to remove numerous small and one large fibroid.

Both these things clouded my head before I was able to be open and honest about them and that incongruence hurt me almost more than the events themselves. At least I’ve been able to be honest in recent months.

I then had three months of limbo. It gets tiring fixing the smile on your face and answering, no date yet, in answer to well meaning acquaintances. Knowing they can’t see the frustration because they don’t deserve it.

As I need a secure place to rest and recuperate from the surgery, I couldn’t even begin to start sorting out a new life or deal with separation. And so, apart from some vague decluttering and a deed poll to return to my maiden name, not much changed. And the emotions were easy to pop on a mental back shelf for later. There is a frustration about having to plan for everything and nothing, being held in limbo but there’s also a safety because nothing can change.

Then the letter arrives. The date is known. And the reality crashes in.

My first reaction is a bigger declutter. I spend the next day divesting myself of as much stuff as I can. Anything I think can raise pennies is offered for sale. A new life costs money. Money in the savings account is security, options. Anything else is donated to a nearby charity shop or chucked in the bins. I feel clearer. Lighter.

I let people know my date, discuss plans with close friends offering help, work out options and schedules with them – it’s important to me that anyone offering help doesn’t feel used or sidelined. I read as much of the hospital information as I can deal with, I put dates in my diary and I start lists.

What to take with me. Who can be around when.

A post surgery groceries list.

The obligatory crafting list.

How to keep my strength and immune system top notch.

Perhaps not surprisingly I wake today feeling ill. Sore throat, snuffly nose. So it’s a day of rest. And a day to let the emotions speak up.

I’m scared. While I need and want this surgery, while I’ve been waiting for this for months, I’m terrified of it. My anxiety disorder relies on experience to calm it down. I have no experience with which to quiet the whispers in my head. Only practical tasks. And there’s only so many of those I can do.

I’m scared of waking up attached to things. My anxiety can be triggered by a feeling of being trapped, the thought of being connected to medical equipment and not being able to get out of bed (not that I’ll be wanting to anyway, but anxiety isn’t rational) is terrifying.

I don’t like not knowing when I’ll be home. I want to plan for it. I want to plan for everything. It makes me feel safer.

I’m scared of what will happen to my.body after. I can’t carry on the way I am, I am usurped by invaders and they cannot stay. But will things return to normal and my control after? Will my body be mine again or will it be changed? Will it kickstart menopause? That’s the big one. I’ve been told it shouldn’t but bodies are complex things. Will I stop looking like a pregnant egg?

21st April feels both very close and ages away as I face this next step in getting rid of Freddie and whatever comes after.

Freddie

Hi, I’m Tania, I’m 42 at the time of writing this and on some as yet unknown date in 2017 I will be having a partial hysterectomy.

I had never heard of fibroids before September 2016. It’s safe to say I’m uncomfortably familiar with them now. I know the different types, the different placements, the different treatments. I know which ones I have and why the number and size of them render any option but a hysterectomy pointless.

I also know why all my attempts to eat healthily and exercise were having little effect on my belly. I am the about the size I would be if I were 5 months pregnant. That’s how many and how large these little blighters are.

Although I’d been feeling a little uncomfortable I could rationalise it that I could still get out of bed, go to work, so therefore I fully expected to be told to just get on with it and they’d eventually go away in ten or fifteen years. These things thrive on hormones that eventually fade from our system. I didn’t like the thought of having them but I didn’t have the extreme symptoms Google kept finding for me so I told myself not to expect anything. The referral was to stop me bothering my gp surgery, that was all.

So it was a shock to leave Worthing hospital having put myself on the waiting list.

When “hysterectomy or nothing” was bluntly stated by my gp surgery I imagined that such a procedure would immediately dump me into post-menopausal womanhood. A place I am not ready to go. I saw it as the end of my life as I knew it and the start of a phase that I wasn’t ready to start. We all know that phase is coming as women, but there’s a rough timestamp on it, and I haven’t yet met anyone who is eager to bring it forward.

Something else I’ve learned is that it doesn’t mean that. Once I’ve recovered, I can go about my life as normal. Just minus the home of a couple dozen fibroids (the largest and most troublesome of which I’ve named Freddie. Naming things helps.).

Having never seriously wanting kids – and not seeing that changing in the next few years – it’s not a problem to consider a hysterectomy in those terms. Although it’s one thing to make that decision myself and another to realise that choice won’t exist in another 12 months. I still don’t want kids (I love them, I also love giving them back), but I want that to be my choice. And soon it won’t be. There’s a weird ass unexpected grief in that. I’m not mourning the loss of being able to have children as the loss of that being my choice.

I want the surgery. I’m uncomfortable and it’s not easing. It’s slowly increasing and I still have months to wait. I’m also very scared. This is major surgery. Abdominal Surgery. Weeks of recovery time. And that’s keeping away from the lists of possible complications that I’m not going to read. Apart from having my stupid toenails removed because genetics insisted they kept fucking up the simplest job, I’ve never had surgery. Never stayed in hospital. I’ve not even broken a bone. And here I am facing having an entire bit of me removed.

So this is me. This is me writing about it because that makes me own it. Makes it somehow easier to deal with. If it can be written down, it can be dealt with.

Many a true word…

As you probably know, Facebook gives you the statuses you posted in years past. I look at these, as I find it interesting to see the journey I’ve been on (and yes, sometimes to get rid of the things I don’t wish to remember!)

Today this came up from two years ago:
” “You’re a crazy lady aren’t you? Keep taking the tablets”
Said in jest, actually snuck through a chink in my armour and really hurt my feelings. Sometimes I think I shouldn’t even try at small talk… ”

I remember that. It’s a frequent occurrence that unless around a select group of people I count as “Friends” rather than “acquaintances” I need to watch what I say, watch my responses. There seems to be an invisible line that I frequently cross and I don’t realise until I get that ‘tumbleweed’ moment where I realise I’ve said something inappropriate. Again.

But that’s not really what this post is about. This post is to flag up that sometimes even jokey comments said in jest with no malice can really cut and hurt.
I have been medicated for mental health issues a few times.
I have had to remember to keep taking the tablets, and I have felt the effects when I’ve forgotten. Fluoxetine can be an unforgiving bitch when it comes to memory lapses.
“Crazy” is a subjective term. Some may consider that I have been so (or continue to be so, certainly I am not “normal” and actually consider that word an insult!), and there have been times where I have doubted that reality as it exists inside my head is true. My brain lies to me and I cannot always trust it. It’s an exceedingly scary experience and one that is all too common for too many people alas.

So… such jokes are not always jokes.
We never know how sensitive someone truly is. We never know how well their armour is working, and while we can’t watch what we say all the time (I’m a true case in point there), perhaps some jokes about being crazy and needing medication are unnecessary?

Mental Vs Physical

Two recent events got me thinking.

Event 1 – I gave up the driving lessons due to the anxiety attacks they were causing.

Event 2 – I twisted my ankle.

Why is it so much easier to look after ourselves, and to let it be known that we are in need of looking after, when it comes to physical pain? Why is it so much harder with mental or emotional pain?

Admittedly sometimes and for some people it still isn’t easy and I know many who will push themselves past what is sensible and not let themselves rest and recover (not to be confused with those that push and find themselves more capable than previously expected, that’s different, I’m talking about those that don’t stop then fall over seriously broken).

With my ankle, there was a clear visible sign of hurt, for a while I simply couldn’t put enough weight on it to walk and I felt grateful rather than guilty that a friend travelled over to lend me a crutch so I could get about easier. I had to cancel some plans, and although I didn’t like having to do so (the timing sucked!), I didn’t feel guilty about it.

When it came to giving up the driving lessons, I gave myself a hard time. I’m not someone who gives up easily (any more), and having experienced the pride that comes with achieving something once thought out of reach, I am happy to work hard to feel that pride again. I know now that my anxiety is not an indicator of my ability. Having taken a long time to get to that realisation, it’s one I cling to. Nowadays, I intensely dislike my anxiety getting in the way of what I want and I’ve been known to pursue something simply because the thought of it causes anxiety (the tandem skydive I once did being a prime example of this, technically it was to raise money, really it was because the thought of it caused a panic attack so I decided to do one just to show my anxiety who was boss).

However, although I knew that technically I could continue with the lessons and eventually pass, I realised that I simply wasn’t willing to allow that much anxiety into my life. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it, it was that I didn’t want to.

At the moment I have other things that I wish to give my attention and time to, not to mention a job I care about that I need to be on top form for, and the level of anxiety I was experiencing for 24 hours before the lessons was getting in the way of that.

I came to that realisation after I gave up the lessons however and spent a fair few days feeling like a failure and being grateful for my ever loving and supportive circle of friends understanding me and telling me what I needed to hear.

Now that I pride myself on overcoming my anxiety, my self-image took a knock when it felt like anxiety had won. It took a few days of mulling it through, talking it over with some friends to realise why it was absolutely the right decision for me and to be okay with having made it.

Look at the difference in those two paragraphs! There is a need to explain, to justify perhaps, with giving up driving. The paragraph about the ankle is essentially saying – yeah, hurt ankle, got some help, couldn’t walk for a bit, didn’t push it.

I can’t seem to say the same for a hurt nervous system. It’s not treated the same by people around us. We’re expected to push through, carry on, just be stronger. Yet few would advise someone to keep running that marathon on a twisted ankle we can’t put weight on. Is it just that there is no visible sign to point to?

Maybe one day we will get there, in the meantime, see if thinking of your mental and emotional issues as physical ones helps. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. It helps me at times.

It’s just a Ride…

So this is more of a personal post, it happens from time to time, as well as sharing things that have and do help me live with my anxiety I’m going to share with you some personal experiences as well. I think sharing that as well as what works may help to make me more of a human to you (if you read this and don’t know me, hopefully if you do know me then I’m already a human to you!), maybe help you feel better about the ups and downs of your life too. There is no magic bullet for this shit, there are always ups and down and we just get better at managing them, at riding the ride.

This is more me having a bit of a brain dump, talking things through with myself to see how I feel about it, get it out my system and figure out what to do. We are not alone with these experiences and I am not an expert in dealing with this shit, I am muddling through best I can, just like all of us – I get overwhelmed and defeated by anxiety still, it just doesn’t happen as much as it used to and I’m more savvy about what’s happening, why and what to do about it these days. However it still sucks and it still takes over me for a while.

Such as yesterday…

I knew learning to drive would be a huge challenge for me. Some of my biggest anxiety triggers are new things, not knowing what to do, not feeling in control, other’s judging me – all of which are clearly going to come up with learning to drive! These anxiety triggers are also the reason I challenge myself and put myself in situations that will be difficult for me, how can I live without trying new things, without learning, without letting go, without risking judgement? I tried that once… my life became so small, and the anxiety didn’t go away. It just doesn’t work, so now I push myself where and when I can.

The first two driving lessons my anxiety levels were very high, however, there was also a surge of adrenalin after the second lesson which gave me hope – but that’s the thing with anxiety, it can be impossible to pre-judge, a good or bad experience one time doesn’t always give a clue to how the next time will go. We have to develop a bit of a zen attitude to life when we live with anxiety.

My third lesson was yesterday evening after work. (Same as the second lesson annoyingly, which was fine)

Almost as soon as I woke yesterday morning, I felt the physical symptoms of anxiety which continued all day. My anxiety has clearly decided that it’s going to level up and now gives me the brand new symptom of chest pain. Most unwelcome! I spent the entire day feeling like someone had skewered me on a javelin feeling the pain in my spine as well as my sternum. While I can often put my anxiety to one side – like putting a misbehaving toddler in time out – as I did during my first lesson, sometimes it refuses to be ignored. I ignored the anxiety right up until the point I got asked to do something new half an hour into the driving lesson.

All I was asked to do was turn right across a quiet road into an equally quiet car park where we could look at reversing.

I started the car, started to move, then my entire system just went “NOPE”, I stopped the car and dissolved.

The entrance to the car park looked tiny (it wasn’t), turning right involved traffic wanting to travel down that side of the road (there wasn’t any), reversing risked bumping into the bollards (I’m in a dual control car, I have no doubt he’d stop it before that happened, he likes his car…).

As I type this, I can feel the fear welling up again in my throat, and actually, that’s weirdly comforting as waking up this morning free of anxiety symptoms I wonder why I ended the lesson early, why I couldn’t cope, was I just being weak and pathetically lazy? Thoughts which have tracked me my entire life as anxiety makes some of the most random things more difficult or impossible. Thoughts which have been vocalised by others not understanding how it is to live with anxiety. If just typing this brings back the fear then I can tell myself, no, I wasn’t being lazy, I was overwhelmed with anxiety. I was trying to run on a twisted ankle.

My instructor is calm, understanding, and asks if I want to call a halt at that point, that it’s fine, but I can’t do that. That will be giving in. Maybe I can’t deal with something new right now, but I can damn well carry on with the lesson. The only way out is through, I tell myself. New things scare me so lets focus on this not feeling so new. So I do. We carry on. We practise what I’ve done before. But it doesn’t work, the anxiety doesn’t back down, and now I’m frustrated that I’m struggling with what was going so well last week, I can’t think clearly, I can’t concentrate on what he’s saying, I’m forgetting the sequence and I don’t feel safe. I’m getting it right one time and all wrong the next.

I call a halt after another 40 minutes. Too much of my attention and energy is having to go on keeping myself from panicking and crying (and not being successful at that) and I just don’t feel I should be in a car if I’m in that state. Nothing is going into my head and my performance is erratic, there is no progress here and my frustration with myself is growing with each passing second.

It’s time to leave the battlefield, regroup, and consider another tactic.

Perhaps fighting anxiety for 10 hours before the lesson, including constant physical pain, just wore me down too much. My defences are usually better than this. There’s only one way to test that theory, have the lesson earlier in the day. If that lesson goes better, then that’s how I proceed, if it’s just as bad, then perhaps driving isn’t for me after all. I’m fine with having myself at risk, that’s my choice, but I can’t and won’t put others at risk, and if I don’t feel safe in charge of a car, if I don’t trust myself not to panic, then that’s what I’m doing.

Honestly right now, I don’t know if I’d be running away from something I can do if I push myself, or stepping away from unnecessary anxiety attacks. I guess that’s a decision to consider next week though…

Disclaimer

I wanted to write a quick thing about how we are all different.

It seems my last post was read almost 100 times and as far flung as India & USA if the stats are to be believed… that’s a little scary if I’m honest and makes me feel responsible.

I’m aware that in writing this blog, in sharing my story and experiences and writing about such things as acceptance and gratitude, I may well myself become a passive aggressive meme that can be used to beat yourself up. That’s the opposite of what I am aiming to achieve.

So…

We are all different.

My story and experience is mine.

In sharing it, many have said that they experience something similar, but many will not. Many have a different experience which is just as valid and real.

What helps me may not help you (and certainly will not help some).

What I am attempting to do here is lay out a series of tools. How you employ them and what you make with them is up to you. Pick them up, play with them, feel free to change and adapt and explore, let them be a catalyst, don’t let them be set in stone.

Your recovery is your own journey and it will contain it’s own twists and turns and last as long as it lasts. Don’t let anyone else dictate your direction and distance – certainly be guided by those you trust, but I am Person-Centred trained (actually that’s not true – my course was Integrative, but I’m Person-Centred by heart), you are the authority in your life and ultimately, if you are honest and congruent, you know what you need to heal.

My anxiety is life-long. I will never be without it. That said, it doesn’t define or control me and I don’t wait for it or expect it. I plan for it, certainly, but that’s different, that’s having a safety net and I then try to stay up on the tightwire rather than letting myself fall. There are certain situations and experiences that are very likely to trigger it (going by past experiences), but I’m always happy to be proved wrong. It’s a fine balance, which I don’t always get right, but each time is a chance to learn and refine my techniques.

I believe that there are very broadly speaking two types of anxiety/depression (I know there are really many many more) – Reactive and Chemical.

Reactive means it’s a reaction to something, there’s often a root cause that can be discovered and dealt with.

Chemical means a part of us is a little wonky, a little miswired, like having a weak ankle or needing glasses.

My anxiety is chemical, my depression is reactive.

I’ve always been able to find a cause for my depression and ultimately do something about it (sometimes that has taken years however, it’s not necessarily easy! It can take a LOT of supported digging to reach the root cause), there isn’t always a cause for my anxiety. Honestly, sometimes my damn nervous system has been set off simply because there’s nothing wrong and it couldn’t cope with that!

So… ultimately, all I’m trying to say here is if you try anything I suggest here and it doesn’t work for you – don’t fret! Don’t beat yourself up. Not everything works for everyone. Explore, try something else, try the same thing in a different way.

Just keep trying something when you’re able to.

And for those times you’re not able to try anything, just be kind and see how you feel tomorrow.

With love and respect to all those struggling today.

Gratitude

Gratitude can be difficult when we’re struggling with anxiety issues, the world can be a scary place, our brain chemicals are going haywire, often our bodies are achingly tired and being aware of anything other than perceived threats can take an effort we don’t feel we have the energy for.

Gratitude can also be a spiritual tool to beat ourselves up with as passive aggressive meme’s suggest that we wouldn’t be in the state we are if only we were more grateful for what we have, reminding us that many in the world are worse off than we, so how selfish are you to be struggling? Not useful, not kind, not actually spiritual in my little corner of the world.

Your experience is your experience and someone else being better or worse off has absolutely zero impact on how you perceive and interact with the world. Also, being grateful that someone is worse off than you isn’t actually gratitude – it’s comparison –  and that won’t have a positive effect on the brain…

Yet, despite it being misused sometimes, gratitude is a good habit to get into, and this is backed up by neuroscience (SCIENCE BABY, YEAH!). It doesn’t matter what we are grateful for, it doesn’t even matter if we can’t come up with anything, the act of looking for something to be grateful for can be the trigger to a happier brain over time. Google the neuroscience of gratitude and see what you find, there have been various studies done on the matter.

Over the years I’ve kept several gratitude journals for various periods of time, and I’ve learnt a few things.

1 – Don’t wait for the perfect notebook/pen etc. Don’t think, I’ll start this when I’ve bought a nice book to write in. That’s just procrastination, you’ll rarely if ever get around to buying the “perfect” book for your journal, it’s just a way of not starting the exercise. You doubtless have some form of paper and pen/pencil lying around. Use that. It doesn’t matter what you write on or even whether you keep it. The act of doing it is all that matters. You don’t even need a pen and paper, if you’re reading this, you likely have an electronic device you can write on. Use that! By all means get a nice notebook if such things make you happy, but don’t use that as a reason not to start. Start, then get the notebook as and when you can.

1(A) – On that note – don’t worry or give yourself a hard time about finding a certain number of things to be grateful for or even doing it each day – all that means is it’s easier to give up if you can’t achieve your certain number or you miss a day. Try and make it a habit (keeping it by your bedside for example) but if you miss a day, so what? Just pick it up again the day/week/month/year after. It doesn’t matter when you don’t do it, just when you do. Of course all these things are better when done regularly, but doing them at all is more important.

2 – Writing or thinking about WHY you’re grateful for that thing works wonders if you have the energy to do this. Once, many years ago, I was grateful for a random phone call from a fellow student. I wrote that down. Then I thought about why, and realised how isolated and lonely I’d been feeling in class and how that phone call had helped me feel a little more connected and part of the group. Suddenly I was even more grateful for the call and happier when I got back to class. Writing all that down takes effort, I know. You don’t have to, just thinking about it works too.

3 – It doesn’t matter what you’re grateful for. We all have days where all we have to be grateful for is our bed/sofa, blanket/duvet. Be grateful for those things, they matter.

4 – There’s always something to be grateful for, even if it takes some searching. If you’re reading this, you likely have the first layer of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs sorted.

Maslow’s Updated Hierarchy of Needs

You likely have access to the internet and a device to access it on. You likely have a roof over your head and something to eat and drink that day. Hopefully a toilet that works. Someone you could interact with if you chose to. Clothes to wear if you wanted to get dressed. Sometimes paring back to the bare essentials is necessary, but these are still things to be grateful for. You can climb up the pyramid another day.

5 – It doesn’t matter how begrudgingly grateful you are! There are days you just don’t want to be damn well grateful! The world flipping sucks and why should you be grateful for anything damn it?! And that’s fine! Do the exercise anyway, allow the frustration and anger to be there as well. Looking for things to be grateful about doesn’t mean you have to not feel upset, sad, angry, frustrated and whatever else you’re feeling. You can feel those as well. Feelings are just feelings. We prefer some to others, but they all have their place and a right to exist. We can be angry and still grateful the bus arrived on time. We can be sad and still grateful we have a cup of tea. We can be utterly fed up with every single thing, and still grateful there’s an episode of something distracting to watch. We are manifold and we can contain many and conflicting emotions at once and that’s fine.

6 – Gratitude doesn’t have to be kept to a journal. This ties in with saying thank you to compliments. Say thank you to your loved ones, let them know as much as you’re able to how much you appreciate them. Say thank you to the bus driver or the shop assistant – why shouldn’t we be thanked for doing our jobs? Express little bits of gratitude whenever and wherever you can and gradually they work to make us feel better and the world less scary.

Thank you for reading this 🙂 Whether you’re a stranger or a friend, I’m grateful you took the time and if I do know you, thank you for being in my life, you give me lots to be grateful for.

Accepting Compliments

Yes, it’s about acceptance again, sue me. It’s important.

One of the most significant things I’ve ever learned is how to accept compliments and the importance of doing so.

If you change just one thing about how you interact with the world, try this thing.

There was a time I couldn’t accept compliments, a time that I would argue, quite vehemently at times, against any compliment that came my way, trying to get the other person to see how unimportant, weak and useless I actually was.

Then someone, I forget who but I’m permanently and immensely grateful to them, gently let me know how rude that was to the giver of the compliment.

Think about it. You’re basically saying, “no you’re stupid and wrong in thinking I’m [THIS GOOD THING], how dare you think that!”

I’ve been on the receiving end of that, we all have surely, and it hurts. Don’t know about you, but it makes me not want to give another compliment, makes me shut down a little, sometimes it even makes me dislike that person a little bit more.

How gloomy is that?

We open ourselves up a little to give compliments, we make ourselves a little vulnerable to say “Hey you, I think you’re a bit of awesome” and it hurts when that is slapped down. It can feel like a slap. Someone was nice to us and we just slapped them. You wouldn’t do that physically (I hope!), so why do it verbally?

We don’t have to believe compliments to say thank you to the giver. If we really struggle to accept compliments in general or that one in particular then think of it not as accepting the compliment but as simply thanking the other person for taking time from their day, for using some of their energy to be nice to you.

All you have to say is Thank You.

That’s all.

(If the giver happens to be someone you can’t stand and you’re trying not to encourage their attentions then find a reason to be elsewhere “and on that note, I need to be over there doing that thing now, good bye” or change the subject, maybe practise the British thing of insulting through politeness. You still don’t need to reject the compliment and often it won’t discourage them anyway, it will just make them try harder, the opposite of what you want.)

So why? Why change your behaviour, why is this so important?

Because over time it will and does have an effect on your subconscious. Gradually the praise sinks in, becomes easier to believe, we think better of ourselves over time and our relationships with others improve almost immediately.

It’s nice to give a compliment and have it accepted – we feel we’ve made a difference to that person, and that in turn makes us feel better (no such thing as altruism!).

Accepting compliments makes the world a better place.

For what it’s worth – you, hey you reading this right now, you know what? I think you’re a little bit of awesome 🙂

You’re welcome.

xxx

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries