Self Talk

Last week I went to a workshop about social and emotional wellbeing. I often feel rather cynical about self-help type of programs. You know, those that purport to make you more effective, efficient or an all-round great person. I feel like they are saying that I need to be better in order to get along in this world, that stress is caused by not being good enough. My own view is that the world needs to slow down a little…then everyone would be less stressed. I don’t believe that it is possible to do it all and have it all without being driven to the point of obsession, and that is not healthy.

I did, however, find the session that I attended to be very worthwhile. It was about self-talk and how that leads to attitudes which affect behaviour. We were considering it in terms of the behaviour that you see in children, but I started to look a bit broader at people that I am dealing with, colleagues, friends, family etc. I found it to be applicable to all situations.

It was particularly applicable to me. I am a procrastinator. When I need to begin a project I take the longest time. About a quarter of the way through the project I pick up steam and I finish it really quickly. It is fairly rare for me to not finish something  I have begun, but oh so common for me to not start something that I want to do. This workshop pointed out the self-talk that leads to this attitude and how that is affecting my behaviour. That is enough for me. Awareness is nine-tenths of a cure in this case. I am procrastinating because I am actually thinking the project through, considering every possible problem and solution, making an immensely complex plan in my mind for how to handle what may happen. I am STILL attempting to be a perfectionist. I do not have any ability to be impulsive when I am like this, yet some of my most creative work has come when I allowed myself to work without thinking.

I am controlling of my environment. When something is suggested to me my initial response is always ‘no, I can’t do that’. This is because I have not yet had time to think it through, work out the problems and how I wil deal with them. I can’t even impulsively go driving on the weekend. NO, I can’t. I need to have notice and think it through. This can make me inert, but that’s ok because inertia is safe. I have a neon sign in my head that says ‘that is dangerous.’ I do not allow myself to be put in a risky situation. Any situation that I have not fully considered is assumed to be risky.

Most of the time these things are ok with me. We need all types of people in this world. The cautious among us balance out the risk takers. There has to be a voice of reason in every crowd. If everyone of us was impulsive our society would be out of control. I am generally happy to be a moderate person and happy to allow others to take risks. Sometimes though, like now, when big changes and uncertainties loom on the horizon for my family, it starts to be difficult. I would like to make a coccoon that my family will sit in, they can’t get out, you can’t get in, and we’ll just wait there until I have finished thinking and planning it all out in my head. It won’t change anything, but I’ll feel a little more in control.

Last night Sussanah rang me at 6:09pm to ask me to go to dinner and movies at 7pm. less that one hour’s notice. My self talk says “What!! I haven’t planned for this…” But I thought about how that is influencing me and making me inert. So I said, “I’ll call you back in half an hour.” (That is different to ‘no’) and I did…and I went to the movie. I enjoyed myself.

Yesterday I looked at a project that I have begun, all cut out, just waiting to be sewn and I decided to add some hand stitched details.


So I did. They are done, all of them finished.

A little bit of self-awareness seems to have gone a long way. These two anocdotes may not seem to be earth shattering to you, but I am very pleased with myself. Today I will do more. Maybe I’ll even drive somewhere without knowing where that will be!

What a risk taker!!!


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13 responses to “Self Talk

  1. h&b

    I too like to have time to think things over. I don’t like being pressured into something on the spot, and God Forbid if anyone ever threw me a surprise party ( ) – especially if they’d been loitering about my own home. My domain.

    I can do most things though with an hour’s notice, as long as i’m truly keen to begin with.

  2. twolimeleaves

    That’s it, Tracey – unleash your Inner Wild Woman!!
    (do you remember that Frasier episode where Niles and Frasier went on some self-help thing to discover their Inner Hairy Man? I just couldn’t bring myself to say Inner Hairy Woman)

  3. Good for you!

    It’s hard to change who we essentially are. But being aware of the things that hold us back sometimes is a good start.

    Don’t change too much, I like you the way you are, even if I am still waiting for my quilt. 🙂

  4. I too tend to be quite cautious about certain areas of my life but not others. (I really long for the days when I could spontaneously pick up my keys and disappear without having to wait for snacktime, naptime, etc.). I too enjoy controlling my environment: that, ironically, is the only reason why I quilt because I am a colour control freak! I have this poem framed on my bathroom wall:

    It periodically reminds me to lighten up…

  5. In looking at the link, it isn’t apparent as to what poem I was referring to. I am referring to the “excerpt” entitled “If I had my life to live over” by Nadine Stair

  6. craftymum

    Yes, I can relate to the needing time to think, but it depends what it is. I never thought of that being a reason to procrastinate.
    I have to watch my self-talk carefully, I can easily fall into a negative spiral if I don’t.

  7. You’re walking on the edge now! 🙂 Just don’t leap before you look and you’ll be fine.

  8. As my life has changed & I have aged, I have found I am different people. Essentially the same, I suppose, but my risktaking decreased markedly once I had children to consider. You are at a crossroads of change because you daughter is about to leave the nest.
    But some spontaneous actions will be good for you, I feel, as long as you enjoy them.

  9. soozadoo

    Lord it makes me laugh that you knew it was 6.09 pm.

  10. Where did my comment go? Bloody hell. It was really thoughtful and profound and had something to do with the fact that I have an inner voice which can be really negative and despising but fortunately that one is reserved for my premenstrual days. Also I grab thinking time everywhere I can, or I don’t function. The water restrictions have hit me hard in that respect, nothing like standing under a warm shower setting your mind straight.

    Good on you for pushing your boundaries.

  11. Of course I knew that it was 6:09pm. The first thing I did was look at my watch because when you said ‘we could pick you up at seven’
    I said to myself ‘what freaking time is it now???’

  12. I liked your response “I’ll call you back….” instead of just saying “No.” That “pause” opens up a whole range of possibilties!

  13. I am quite similar – don’t spring things on me! I have to have a bit of time to think things through. Unlike you, though, I am a procrastinator but the other way – I start things enthusiastically but get tired about halfway through. I would much rather be your type of procrastinator!

    I can really relate to the part about the self-talk – it has made a lot of sense and opened my eyes a bit more. AM going off to re-read your email and think some more.

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