Tag Archives: inner adult

The world did not end*

* spoiler alert. It didn’t. It even got better…

I realised I made a mistake. This is what happened afterwards – the short version:

  • That’s stupid, You’re stupid! (inner critic, yelling and pointing a finger at me)
  • Get me out of here, I can’t bear it! (inner child, screaming, running in all directions trying to escape, wanting to put her fingers in her ears)
  • I realise there’s an inner drama going on (inner adult)

First response: fight that critic! (inner critic criticising inner critic).

Second response: do something nice to relax! (inner child asking for fun escape)

In the meanwhile, I was procrastinating on Facebook… Then I realised it might have something to do with the inner drama…

Me calling my inner adult.
First response: silence…
Second response: maybe…

Me calling out my inner adult from behind my frightened child: I know you are here, let’s do this together. I’ll ask you questions, you can answer.
First response: okay… (inner adult)
Second response: hey, I’m already here! (inner adult)

Me: What can you say to a stressed out parent type?
Inner adult: Thanks for the warning, I’ll take it from here. I know how to handle this.

Me: What can you say to a frightened child?
Inner adult: It know it looks unbearable, but I don’t thinks it’s that bad. Shall we go and have a look together?

Me to my inner adult: Thanks!

I’ve learned this weekend that the most natural response for human beings is to reach out and search for help. If that help doesn’t appear, then comes fight or flight mode. When that doesn’t work, then follows freeze (going numb). Over time, you adapt. If the option ‘help’ gets disappointed too often, you skip it and sooner choose for fight or fight. If that mode fails you too often in creating what you want, then freeze becomes the preferred mechanism of your brain.

If I apply that knowledge to what just happened, I learn some things:
1) Hanging around of Facebook for too long can be a sign of wanting help, or a sign of being in flight mode. It’s nice when I learn to recognise which one it it, so I can work with it. If I long for help, I can decide to ask for it.

I’ve done that one time when I was feeling really, really, really low. I asked my Facebook friends to say something nice about me because I felt crap, and I got the most heart warming responses. And I could tell they meant them, which helped me open up to the feeling that I might be more okay than what my brain was telling me.

2) If I’m in flight mode, I can give in to it – or try to find a way to make it safe to check what’s going on inside me.

In this post, looking at it through the structures of inner critic and inner child, helped me to find the safety to look from a distance and try to understand which thoughts were going on. So I could take it from there.

Now I get it, and no I want to go back to work! The mistake that triggered all this, was calling someone 15 minutes late. I’m glad that I noticed that the stress it caused me was out of proportion, and that I concluded that something was going on. Thanks to my learnings this weekend, I realised I could choose to look at both my inner critic and my inner child from the perspective of compassion. Then I could stop fighting them, and had space for my inner adult to enter the stage.

I used to thing that fighting my inner critic was the adult thing to do. I used to think that being self critical was helpful to force me to get things done. This post helped me realise that my inner adult does not fight, criticise or hide. When it’s there, it listens to the ruckus going on, and responds. And helps to make choices.

I know I should work on the lay-out of this post, but I REALLY want to get my work done. And then I REALLY want to go outside. Priorities! Many thanks if you managed to read the text anyway. The brilliant place/space where I’ve been learning the new things is: http://psentraining.com/

Procrastination by overwhelm?

I was on a roll writing blog posts on the drama triangle and its links to procrastination. Now I’m off the roll… I’d love to continue writing the next blog posts, but I can’t. Not yet. Here’s what happened:
img_20180314_072152.jpg
I know, crappy picture. But is does show the back of our cat, and her five newborn babies. They’re so small!

I’ve never been around a nest of kittens before. I’m mesmerised, exhausted, worried, in love… A plethora of emotions (finally an excuse to use the word plethora) I’m enjoying it lots, but one things is for sure: I can’t think straight. Which means the blog posts will have to wait.
IMG_20180314_145746.jpg

It turns out I have a temperature too. So maybe it’s not the kittens, maybe it’s the flu. My inner critic often tries to whip me into productivity. This morning, in persecutor mode, it said things like ‘You’re weak. Kittens are born all the time, that’s no reason to not work. You’re a wimp, to let all these emotions get to you.

After that, my inner victim (in terms of the drama triangle, hence this choice of words) came through: ‘But only slept three hours yesterday, I’m still exhausted. I’m in overwhelm from all the emotions. And more excuses to not listen to the persecutor and create some space. The inner rescuer concluded: ‘It’s impossible to work now’, and provided time off.

IMG_20180314_144205

I know what procrastination from overwhelm feels like, and this wasn’t that. There was also a part of me that said: ‘Most things don’t matter today. Enjoy the miracles of life, take care of yourself, the rest can wait.’ I’ll check those thoughts against the winners triangle. Do I have a point?

drama triangle winner triangle

The winner’s triangle subsitutes the victim role with vulnarability, the rescuer role with caring, and the persecutor role with assertiveness. If I apply those to how I feel today:

  •  I’m tired and filled with emotions. Vulnarability in this moment means to simply accept that, not fight it, deny it or judge it.
  •  I’m tired, filled with emotions, and I want to get some things done. Caring means taking all of those seriously, and finding a way to take care of all of those. I can get rest, take it easy AND get things done that matter today. Like buying bread for lunch. And getting this post done – but taking a break when I need one, like now.
  • Assertiveness: taking that break as soon as I wrote ‘now’. Going to the nearby supermarket for bread instead of the bakery a bit further. Finishing this post now, and ignoring spelling and lay out. Also: promising I won’t write again until my temperature is back to normal 🙂

Looks like the winners triangle helps my inner adult to get her job done. (I’d provide a link but I can’t find it quickly enough. Click on the tag when you want to know more about the idea of an inner adult)

 

 

I ‘ve got plans, plans to remember

How I looked for ward to ending this series of blog posts with this image:
mortar_board_trans_800

I’m afraid I’m stuck here instead:
Paper pile monster

I have been working on my November project, and have dared to enter a number of my Mount Dooms. I’ve made relevant progress, both in finding the papers I need and in organising them. I also managed to practice self restraint and not bury myself in trying to do everything at the same time.

There are more successes: I gained insight in the workings of my inner critic, managed to look after my inner child, made decisions based upon my values,, and there’s even more I could compliment myself for, like writing a daily blog post even when I was ill.

Still, I feel sad. I had hoped to finish my project tomorrow, and end with a victory: getting my project done, and looking back on succesfully applying what I’ve learned about dealing with myself. I can check off that last one, but the first one won’t happen.

I do have one important victory today: I made a doctor’s appointment. My temperature is rising again, after I felt better yesterday. And I don’t seem to get enough breath, even with clear sinuses. Normally I would have thought this could be a reason to go to the doctor next week. In our house, we tend to call the doctor by the time all other options (patentiently waiting, self medicating, denial) have failed.

Today, my inner adult took care of my thinking:

  • How will if I feel if I go and they say I have nothing to worry about? Relieved.
  • How will I feel if I go next week and turn out to need antibiotics? Stupid.

There’s nothing to gain by waiting.

I like this inner adult of mine 🙂

NaBloPoMo day 29. I would have loved to share things with you that are more directly related to my project, or to procrastination. But this is what I have to offer today, sat in bed with my laptop on my lap (no worries, on top of a book, it’s safe!).

The title of my post was inspired by this great song:

How to motivate yourself when you don’t feel motivated at all?

I’m tempted to go through my old blog posts to see if I’ve already written about this, but I dislike searching (you could say I’m not motivated to search…). I’ll do a little thinking instead. At least I know why I feel unmotivated: I like results, and I feel I’ve had no result for ages.

  • The flu is not over yet (though, admittedly, I’m better than yesterday, why does my inner critic refuse to count that as a result?)
  • I haven’t worked on my project for a week (well, that’s what it feels like, it might be shorter or longer).
  • My blog hasn’t saved the world yet (okay, that wasn’t my ambition, but still, my inner critic asks me: what’s the use of writing on days when you only have private stuff to share?)

So if there are no results to talk about, or I’m not saving the world, why write? What’s the use of commitment when it leads nowhere? Writing this down, makes me realise it’s the inner critic who’s being discouraging.

Other inner parts to the rescue

I’ll ask other parts of me ‘why write’ and see if they have to add something. And yes, they do. Here’s what they have to say. Write because:

– writing is fun (hello inner child!)
– I enjoy the connections it brings
– it’s useful for me to type out the inner voices (hello inner adult)
– I’ll feel better when I stick to my commitment than if I don’t: I’ll be proud that I made it, and found a way to do it even when it was a struggle

The last sentence is important: it leads to the difference between norms and values. AKA carrots and sticks.

Value and norms

A norm tells you what you have to do, and that you’re bad if you don’t do it: it’s motivation by stick. The inner critic likes to use that stick to beat you into obedience. It fears there’s danger it not obeying the norms, so it tries to help you by criticising you. (Does that make sense?)

A value on the other hand is more like a carrot: a positive force that drives you to act. You do it because you WANT to, because you BELIEVE it’s the right thing. You feel happier when your values are in place, and feel bad when someone treads on them.

(Here’s a puzzle for you: is there a value that makes people want to obey rules? Then obediency might be a carrot for them, not a stick).

Commitment from the place of “I have to” sets the horse shoe in motion that I talked about. It brings out my inner toddler. Or it does now. I have a long history of being very obedient to my “I have to-’s”.

Commitment from the place of a value brings me to what I want. I want to show myself that I can stick to something for 30 days, even when it comes with ups and downs.

Full circle?

When I started my project, one of my goals was to show myself that I could do it: work on something that’s very challenging for me, and not drown. Because I was ill, I had no energy to work on my project. But I can work on my blog from that same goal: get something done (I know how to do that), and make the adjustments I need to get it done in a way that’s good for ME (that’s what I’m learning: boundaries, flexibility, and probably a bunch of other important things that I don’t realise at this moment).

So, in the end, I WAS motivated to write this post. I had to search for it. If I had found none, I truly believe that the healthy option would have been to not blog today. And from there, decided again tomorrow: to continue or to quit? For now, I’ve made it to #NaBloPoMo day 27.

If you would have told me on day 1 of my project that I’d be LONGING to work on it later this month, I wouldn’t have believed you. I do now.

Today’s situation

* Health: throat aches, bad cough, slight fever, croaking voice
* Relationship: it’s our 15th anniversary today
* To do’s: more than I have energy for
* Blog: feel like I should share some wisdom because I think that’s why people read my posts.
* Inner critic: grumpy that it can’t criticise me for not taking good care of myself yesterday and blame the fact that I feel worse today on me. It feels cheated.
* Inner adult: plans a lot of rest between the two appointments I have today that I can’t cancel
* Inner child: wants to watch tv
* Wisdom: not today
* Enthusiasm: for other people’s blogs, for example:

A woman who combines decluttering wisdom with ethics.
The most generous writer I know, always spreading the word about people’s work.
The most surprising story I’ve read today.
The most playful man with words I know.

There are more blogs I love and enjoy, but my headache is growing and I think my inner child is right: time for tv!

Obviously, I won’t work on my project today. But #NaBloPoMo day 22 is done.

Practice, stumble, practice again

In general I’m not a ray of sunshine in the morning, but this morning was specifically absent with light. I’d had a nightmare filled with anger, powerlessness and feeling stupid, and somehow my mood wouldn’t lift. I had a party to go to… What to do?

My brain being my brain, there was a lot of internal discussion going on. One voice tried to keep me at home, explaining in a thousand ways how that was the safest option. Another voice tried to make me go out, reminding me that I think birthdays are important and adding a thousand other arguments. I won’t bore you with all the details.

I wondered how I was going to make a decision I would like, and remembered the horse shoe of have -to I created earlier during #NaBloPoMo. I realised the part of the horse shoe that stands for ‘I can’ might get me somewhere, so I made a list of ‘I can’ that felt relevant for today:
– I can go to lunch.
– I can go for a walk.
– I can paint.

The first two options were part of the party I was invited to. The third option would have me stay at home. The list of ‘can’ cleared my mind. I realised:
– I want to go to the party.
– I can go home if it’s not working for me.
– It will be easier fro me to join the lunch than a 7km walk.
– It’s lovely weather so I’d like to walk a bit.

I ended up walking to the party to join the lunch, and walking back home when the other ones went on a hike. I’m back home now, and I have time to rest before my son comes home. And time to write this post.

Since my brain has had a lot of training in negative and worried thoughts, I’ll have to practice it in the thoughts I want to have more of. The horse shoe of have-to can help me. Getting in touch with my values may help me, but only when I watch out for the difference between a value (a carrot for my inner adult or inner child) and a norm (which is a stick for my inner school master). Whatever decision I make will feel better if I manage to step away from I have to and find my way to I want to.

How will I do this after National Blog Posting Month is over and I don’t write about all this stuff any more? Hmmm, I guess I’ll have to search for my I want-to’s…

Planning is a way, not a destination

Yesterday’s results

  • I created a planning for the rest of this month
  • I got my planned filing done
  • I stuck to the planned time boxes (15 minutes for planning, 15 minutes for filing)
  • I enjoyed my planned reward

From the over-abundant use of the word plan in these four lines, you can concluded that I’m very relieved that I finally made it: to create a planning and stick to it.

What worked well?

  1. Planning in a time box of 15 minutes worked like a charm. I was aiming at getting the planning done, and didn’t get stuck in endless maybe’s, but’s and what if’s.
  2. I planned a time limit that was small enough to leave me energy after I’d finished it, and big enough to make me feel happy about how much I’d got done.
  3. I liked that it was just 15 minutes. It soothed my fear of doing too much and getting exhausted. It also soothed my fear of doing too little: 15 minutes today, 15 minutes tomorrow., etc. Small but steady works, as I learned from Less Stuff.
  4. I managed to let my inner child do the painting. She simply enjoyed to play with the materials and didn’t care about the result. I felt satisfied and relaxed within 45 minutes.
  5. I even created a limit for how long I want to work on these blog post (45 minutes maximum).

What worked less well?

  • I’m can’t remember if I really finished the planning, or just finished those 15 minutes.
  • I had promised myself to make a list of activities that I need to get done to get my planned result. I chose another chore this morning, because I really felt like doing, not like thinking.

My inner critic would like to tell me off for not sticking to my plan. My inner adult shrugs when she hears this. She reminds me that a planning is a way to get something done, not a goal in itself. The planned result is my destination, and I worked towards that.

The values I wrote down yesterday were honesty, personal growth, family and fun. My decision to postpone making a list of activities until tomorrow, is in line with those. I was honest with myself about really not wanting to do this today. It’s personal growth to let my inner adult run the show instead of the inner critic. I need to save some energy for later today, because my son comes home from school at 12.30 PM. Since my active, concrete chore didn’t drain me, I have energy left for some fun. Probably more painting.

#NaBloPoMo day 15