I did manage to get a few chores done by choosing not to sit and be a blob. It was useful and helpful. I still don’t think I’ve completely cracked this whole effcient organisation business, but it is another very useful tool to help me out. It was the other part of the weekend that still has me thinking.
Why do I always internalise anything negative but almost never internalise the positive? Often I’ll be out (at work, for instance) and won’t worry particularly about my appearance. When I get home, however, I’ll be appalled at how messy my hair is, how fat I look in an outfit I had thought was OK or any number of other things that make me feel unattractive or unpleasant to look at. Yet there are times when I look at myself in the mirror and I think I look alright, even pleasant to look at. I’ll think my top suits me or my hair is looking nice. The shock I get when I see myself differently always makes me believe that I was misperceiving and that I’m really worse to look at than I think. The strange thing is, it had never occurred to me until now, reflecting on the weekend, that it is equally possible that it is the negative perception that is the error. I believe the times when I don’t like how I look and distrust the times when I do like how I look.
So much of my focus is on improving how I judge myself on the inside, that it actually came as a surprise to me this weekend when I realised I could apply my positive thoughts to my appearance as well as my behaviour. I’d become so used to not believing myself to be attractive that I’d given up thinking of my appearance positively. It’d be delightful to be able to say that I now love my appearance and am fiercely confident in my looks when I’m socialising – but of course that’s not the case. However, just allowing myself to think a genuine positive thought (my hair looks pretty/I like that angle of my face/I like this top on me) and enjoy it, rather than add a “yeah, but…” made me feel surprisingly light and springy.
Sometimes thinking positively about things – things that I would normally start feeling negative about – felt a bit like making excuses. Yet it was interesting the way thinking positive things about myself and my circumstances really seemed to lift my mood. I get down on myself for getting down on myself (oh, that sounds confusing – I mean, when I get critical of myself, it makes me I tell myself off about getting critical)! I am genuinely quite amazed at how I can feel a bit of my fragile self-esteem strengthen just a little every time I consciously think something nice about myself.
As I write this, it occurs to me that perhaps some of the things I’m trying to change about myself are the wrong things. Of course I would like to be more organised because life goes at such a frantic pace these days that deadlines are missed if I don’t make an effort. However, perhaps it’s not a bad thing to be someone who likes things in the slow lane and I should be focused on matching my life to my personality rather than trying to change who I am. The people I admire the most are the ones who I see are out and about doing and achieving and making a difference. I measure myself against these people and find myself lacking because I’m actually a homebody and I prefer to live in my own head than to do practical things. My goals seem to be things that require me to be active, practical, efficient and even bold, but perhaps my goals are wrong. As this Happiness Institue blog post implies, perhaps I need to take a step back and figure out not just what I want and work hard to be the type of person who can achieve that, but what actually suits me and change my goals and my demands to suit the type of person I am now. I may admire and be inspired by highly-successful people, but I actually envy people who live a simpler life. If someone lives a stereotypical surfer lifestyle, for instance, I think that they’ve found a hobby (or career) they love and a lifestyle that seems idyllic…so why do I run around trying to be like Richard Branson or Nelson Mandela? I never get even close to being that type of person and I don’t enjoy the effort required.
Even though I still love psychology and find it interesting, I’ve always been nervous about what I will do with my degree and how hard I may have to work – how bold I may have to be – to really do something with it. I’m not afraid of hard work if it’s the right type of work, I don’t at all regret going back to uni, because I wasn’t on a happy path being a full-time teacher, and I have gained a lot from returning to study. I just wonder if it’s now time to think differently about how I measure success in my life and reassess my goals. I’m still pondering this very new idea and trying to figure out what it means for me.