I’ve been journalling today and I’ve been struck by the fact that it’s been nearly a month since my last entry. I could pretend that it’s because I’ve been busy blogging; indeed I have been busy blogging but the truth is I’ve been hiding from myself.
I’m a classic type A personality; impatient, opinionated, short-fuse temperament with a tendency to flare up quickly and blow over quickly, goal oriented, focused, a perfectionist with high standards for myself and others. I never have enough time, I feel constantly stressed and guilty for not getting everything done, I push myself too hard and expect others to do what I want, how I want, when I want and I can’t understand how they can’t see that My Way Is Best. I find it hard to relax and treat myself and I constantly feel guilty for not being productive enough.
I am the archetypal “All or Nothing” person and the outcome of putting such pressure on myself is that often I panic and procrastinate for fear of failing the task at hand. I either throw myself into an activity and become laser focused to the detriment of everything else then emerge a week later, exhausted, or I do nothing for a week or two and suffer terrible guilt and shame about not doing what I set out to do until I can work up the motivation to start. It’s almost as if I have to let the pressure to act build up until I can’t resist it any longer. If I lose my mind in the process, so be it. On top of that I exhaust myself just by thinking, by staying up late because I am unable to stop thinking and therefore by not getting enough sleep.
Let’s all agree that this is not ideal for mental or physical health, or for relationships with other people. It’s exhausting and it takes a lot of mental effort to keep my emotions and thoughts in check. I often feel insecure and lonely, driven to make connections but then driven away by my self-doubt and my inability to judge whether or not I am being too demanding and expect too much from myself and other people.
I have been proactive and I have done what I set out to do. And yet within me there is the gnawing sense of not having done enough
This past month has been a fairly typical example. After setting up this blog, I made four weekly posts in January and so far I have kept to my intention to post every day in February. I have set up social media links and re-branded my existing social media accounts in line with this blog. I have picked up some followers (thank you, my dear new friends!) I have been proactive and I have done what I set out to do. And yet within me there is the gnawing sense of not having done enough. I haven’t done any real social media marketing other than linking my blog to my media accounts, I haven’t read business blogs and made notes on how to create a social media presence or run an online business. I haven’t read the things that I have managed to download. This month I decided that this year I would write a book but I haven’t started that yet. I haven’t done … blah… blah…. blah.
Why haven’t I done these things? Instead of becoming a business and social media mogul, this past four or five weeks I’ve allowed a number of personal, emotional and relationship issues to dominate my mind; in effect I’ve been distracted by my feelings about my feelings. I’ve let that get in the way of the career and book writing progress I intended to make. I’ve sat around in my pyjamas feeling sorry for myself, blogging, being witty and opining, which I enjoy and makes me happy and subsequently doesn’t feel like work, particularly as I haven’t earned any money from it. Instead, I cannot shake the guilty feeling that I have been indulging my emotions. Therefore, although I have done quite a lot of positive things this month, in my eyes I have not done enough.
So what have I achieved? During my Month of Distraction, I have made some huge and very important steps forward in my personal development. Without going into detail on the past or present of my personal life, I have learned to healthily handle my emotions instead of seeking out the comfort of numbing, distraction or displacement activities such as smoking, drinking alcohol or self-harm, even in moments of extreme emotion and strong temptation. I have refrained from making decisions based on emotional thinking, I have exerted the self control to pause and reflect instead of reacting immediately. I have accepted the roller coaster of emotional highs and lows that I experience regularly, conquering my fear of the lows and resisting being swept away by the highs. I have practised discernment and achieved perspective. I confirmed to myself that I can relate to people healthily, that I have regained the self control that I lost over a long period of depression and mental/emotional instability that had its roots in my teenage years and steadily took hold over decades of faulty perspective and skewed thinking.
Even if you give your all to a project or situation you may not achieve the goal you desire and it doesn’t have to be your fault or indeed anyone’s fault
I processed the truth that sometimes things don’t work out as you want and it isn’t necessarily personal, that even if you give your all to a project or situation you may not achieve the goal you desire and it doesn’t have to be your fault or indeed anyone’s fault. Indeed, that life is not out to get me, as I sometimes feel. Failure has a purpose, failure breeds resilience and flexibility. Not having things work out can actually turn out for good. I already had learned this but I hadn’t been able to accept and fully feel it until now.
I realised that you don’t have to make someone wrong for you to be right; it’s possible for both to be right and both to be wrong at the same time but unfortunately if the other person doesn’t want to accept your perspective then you will not agree. It is not your failure but probably you won’t be able to change the situation. People are different and that’s simply something I have to accept.
Like an addict, I have been fighting the urge to seek out easy, temporary comfort, to take revenge upon myself for my perceived failures, to indulge my darkness and self-hatred, give room to my fears or my egomania, swinging between self-loathing and an incredible feeling of power and confidence, only to crash back down when I encounter an obstacle. I have struggled to maintain reason and perspective, to feel in my soul what I know in my head; that I am enough, I am loved, I am worthy, I am good, I am loving, I am normal, I am capable, I am succeeding, I am achieving, I am well.
Success is measured in many ways and the metric you use is up to you
Perhaps, just perhaps, my Type A personality can give me a little break and recognise that this is worth something? This is big stuff: I fought my demons and I won. How about a bit of credit, Ms Type A? I did not become a social media mogul this month. I probably won’t next month. But what I did learn will change all the months to come because it changed me. There’s no need to hide from my perceived failure – success is measured in many ways and the metric you use is up to you. Just because I didn’t achieve my stated goals doesn’t mean I didn’t achieve anything; I achieved a lot. These might seem like obvious statements but to a person who has never felt good enough, this is Lightning-Bolt-Strikes enlightenment.
I’m going to give myself that break. Tomorrow, I start again with renewed focus, reawakened motivation and with a new sense of confidence. After all, if I can conquer my own mind, I can do anything.
Public domain pictures by PeteLinforth and 3dman_eu on Pixabay.com