There have been some days over the past year; I have had to have some serious Words Wi Me Sen to adjust with this shit show called COVID. Confined to home working, being isolated from the usual office/social chat and banter has been replaced with more time to think or, should I say, overthink.
I have found myself absorbing my thoughts rather than being an observer of them and missed not being able to just being able to talk them out with a colleague or a close friend. Ya know all those simple interactions that we all took for granted.
I’ve had to quickly develop some new coping strategies, to help me bounce instead of breaking. So, I thought I would share em with ya.
My struggles with anxiety and self esteem started when I was much younger, I had never considered that I might have suffered from anxiety or that at times I might be depressed. And why would I? shit like that wasn’t talked about then. Some days I felt I might suffocate, I had a voice, but I was too afraid to use it, mainly out of fear of being judged or, even worse, misunderstood. This was further compounded because I could never find the words to articulate my feelings. It was just easier to keep shtum. ‘Put up and shut up’, as the saying goes.
I naively assumed that as I got older, I would grow out of it or might be able to figure out all the shit in my head and that I’d find the words to articulate how it felt, but I was wrong. I used to believe in fairy tales about finding my prince charming, getting a job, having kids, settling down, and living happily ever after. I’ve since figured out that Fairy tales are bullshit, just a tactic, a distraction method used by parents to try to protect their kids from the darker side of being an adult. Which is Fucking hard.
Over the years, with the support from others and a lot of reading and reflection, I have learned to sit with uncomfortable feelings, thoughts, and emotions and trust the future even when it feels uncertain. But I have also learned that I can do something with them too. I’ve tried different coping strategies over the years, many have served me well, and I’ve learned a lot about myself because of them, but one of the best coping strategies I stumbled upon has been writing.
What innocently started out as a simple journal turned out to be a revelation for me. Writing has become my go-to coping strategy, especially since COVID. It’s an opportunity to reflect. It’s my safe place, where I can share my innermost thoughts, fears and feelings without being judged by the outside world. It took me ages before I shared any of my writing publicly, afraid of the grammar police. Afraid that they would find fault in how I wrote instead of what I was saying – Nowadays, I give less fucks about what the grammar police might have to say…
Learning to Bounce Instead of Breaking – Whenever I’m feeling bad about something or feeling low, I take notice, this is important, I have learned that how I feel about myself has a direct impact on my decision making and my attitude. Nancy Kline, a hero of mine, says, “The quality of everything we do depends on the quality of the thinking we do first’. So if i am feeling shit I’ll take myself to one side or go for a walk and #Haveawordwimesen away from social media away from all the bullshit and if that doesn’t work, I will put pen to paper, or turn to the keyboard.
It’s like having my day in Court, call it the Court of Compassion. Sat alone its like my moment of reckoning, like my very own courtroom, only there isn’t anyone else present, there are no jurors, just me and the computer. Usually, my crimes are worrying about others, things I cannot change, self-criticism or negative self-talk.
In that moment, I am both the Prosecutor and Defence; the Judge is my conscience and intuition.
The Prosecutor always goes first, presenting/pouring out all the negative feelings and thoughts, including evidence to back them up. This part is harsh, but at the same time, it is cathartic, and most of the time, the evidence that is presented are just old limiting beliefs like
• I’m not good enough?
• I can’t do this.
• I don’t know what I’m doing.
• What if I fail?
• What do others think of me?
Trust me, this is NOT an exhaustive list, and it can go on and on
When the Prosecutor has finished, then it’s time for my Defence, who will go through each alleged crime and argue/question if they are old inherited, thoughts and beliefs from my past. She will challenge the Prosecutor and highlight any mitigating circumstances in response to my crimes which might include
• You are good enough – You are not alone. Everyone’s lives have been turned upside down, and they are feeling the same.
• But you are doing this – and you continue despite all the uncertainly around work.
• Of course, you don’t know what you are doing.-We are all winging it. This is unchartered territory, working from home away from your usual support network.
• So, what if you fail? – So, what if you do? You’ve failed before, and you never let a bit of failure stop you before?
• Does it matter what others think of you? Those that know you love you; they are the only one who counts isn’t, including what you think of yourself?
My Judge, my conscience, she is my intuition and sits quietly, taking in all the arguments made before preparing a sentence.
(NOTE) Years before, I had a fucking harsh judge. She was a bitch, and more often than not, the outcome was always guilty. She would have condemned me to a life locked in shame and condemn me to a life of self-sabotage before throwing away the keys. But nowadays, my Judge is a little more compassionate. She understands me, accepts my flaws and always takes these into account before handing down my sentence. In her summoning up, she always reminds me of how far I have come and that everyone has flaws and that nobody is perfect, and that it’s ok not to be ok.
She will often give me probation with conditions to be kinder to myself, to take the time to do the things that make me happy or to undertake an inventory, a gratitude list which helps remind me of all the things I have got in my life, like family and loved ones.
Sometimes this works for a while, there are times when I might breach my probation conditions and find my ass back in court—Having the very same #Havingawordwimesen over again. But I’m ok with that. I came to the realisation years ago that in life, shit happens, life is full of highs and lows, it’s how you deal with it that matters It also helps that I have got a more compassionate Judge who is now on my side.
Sometimes, when I re-read what I’ve written about myself, it’s like reading someone else’s words, and I can’t believe how harsh I had been toward myself.
If you are struggling during these insane times try writing it out, create some space and time to hold your compassion court and see if it works for you.
I have found a couple of GREAT writing exercises for you to try. They are from a lady called Kristin Neff an expert on self-compassion
I dread to think how many words I have written over the past few years; Christ it must be a fucking lot cos I’ve gone through two keyboards after wearing the letters out, but one thing I do know is, every single word was worth it…
Remember you might not always write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page, you can’t edit a blank page…
Thank you for taking the time to read.
Remember I don’t write for financial reward or gain, I just want to help share my lived experience with others in the hope that it helps. And I just love to write, so if ya fancy getting the occasional email with the most up to date blogs from yours truly, please feel free to subscribe at the bottom of the main page.