This morning was rough. It’s still cold and rainy here in Australia, I’ve got my period, haven’t slept well for a few nights because I’ve been up writing, I have a vulnerability hangover from sending the first six chapters of my novel off to three trusted readers, and I’m just feeling a little bit raw.
And that’s OK. I’ve learned to accept the fact that I am not a robot, and that my energy waxes and wanes, often connected to my cycle (especially as I get older). Sometimes there are factors I can control, like how much water I’m drinking, the amount of exercise I get and what time I go to bed and sometimes it seems that nothing works and I just feel blah.
Now for someone like me who has been compared to a six-month old puppy on more than one occasion, a lack of energy is super frustrating. My mind doesn’t stop, I’m still filled with lots of ideas that I want to action and I tip pretty easily into “OH HALP! I’m drowning!” thoughts as the house around me descends into what looks like chaos (but is actually just my life now, I need to work on surrendering to that!).
What’s NOT OK (for me!) is taking that frustration out on my kids or husband or the self-serve checkout at Woolies because it is just too goddamn slow (true story). When my energy is low, I have a tendency to snap- easily- and get angry and that’s the emotion that very quickly weighs me down into my most favourite old habit: victimhood mentality. The internal dialogue goes something like this (stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Actually, don’t stop because maybe we need to have this conversation more often):
My life is always so hard! Nobody listens to me! Everybody is a jerk! I can’t do anything right!
Now, my friends, I draw your attention to the following words- ALWAYS. NOBODY. EVERYBODY. ANYTHING- because these are the RED FLAGS that you’re caught up in a shitty, unrealistic, unfounded but very seductive story that you’re telling yourself.
You see your brain, bless its little cotton socks, has the enormous task of filtering (too much!) information all day, every day, connecting ideas and creating patterns to make sense of it all. Then, because the brain is creative and knows you have a stupidly short attention span, it tidies it all up into a neat little story that it delivers to you in a narrative that you can understand.
But your brain has a lot of work to do just to keep you alive, and sometimes it gets a bit, well, lazy. (Yes, I realise this is a gross oversimplification of this process but we’ve all got things to do today so moving on!) It likes to latch onto and reuse words, because it’s easier to repeat or update an old story than to write a new one. This isn’t always a bad thing, if the story you’re telling yourself is a good one filled with positive things that are inspiring you to greatness.
But when your story contains words like the ones I highlighted above- Always! Never! Everybody!- then we have a problem. At best, words like always and never are usually exaggerations. But when your subconscious self takes them on as ABSOLUTES because those are the words your brain is using, then good luck leaving your pity party. You can’t, you’re the guest of honour!
Do I have a solution to this? Hahahahahaha…NO! I wish I did. Do I have tools that I use to help myself and others quickly identify, investigate and rewrite the narrative? Sure I do, but that’s a whole other post, so keep an eye out for Part 2 next week.
For now, however, I issue you a challenge. Just start paying attention to that internal dialogue. Take notes if you want, or use a counter on an app if you like or just kind of sit with the feeling, but just take notice. Is your internal dialogue positive or negative? Are you telling yourself things that, when you take a step back, are legit ridiculous. (Pssst…the answer is probably yes!).
That’s the first step, and sometimes it’s the hardest, so go easy on yourself and try to enjoy it. It means you’re committed to a new way of thinking, and that is a beautiful, brave thing.
(Also, just a quick note to my Mum who I can almost guarantee rolled her eyes and said “Ugh. I’ve been telling her this for YEARS!” when she read this post (and if she didn’t she’ll let me know in the comments). She’s right. She has. And I should’ve listened a long time ago. Sheepishly yours, your daughter.)