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!!!