When I started DO/AO, one of my first challenges was to drop negativity. This wasn’t very successful, but I did learn a few things. I learned that it’s good to have a plan for new thoughts to focus on instead of the negatives and I learned that changing negative thought patterns is tricky.
So I didn’t go into last week expecting to cure myself of the “Poor Me”s. What I hoped was that I could catch myself thinking this way and focus more on appreciating the moment in particular and the good things about my life in general. In this way, I think the week was mostly successful. I was actually surprised at how often I was feeling sorry for myself, even in little ways. I found that, even when I was doing exactly what I wanted, there was always a part of me feeling sorry for how unfortunate I was. I’m struggling to explain exactly what I feel, as this isn’t exactly a conscious thought process.
It’s like right now. I slept moderately well, I got up early, I have already done some exercise, I have had some healthy snacks and I’ve done a bit of tidying. I’m now enjoying a little bit of peace alone in the house while I sit down and blog. So far, this is my perfect day. Yet I have been feeling that all sorts of things are wrong – I’m dependent on other people going out for some peace, I haven’t been out of the house today, my back is a bit painful, I’m not doing anything important with my day, I am too poor and worry about affording the more expensive healthy food, I don’t like enough healthy food etc. etc. Poor me, my life is such a struggle. I only caught myself doing this about a paragraph into this blog entry. Of course my life has challenges, stresses and pains and of course I have goals for my life that I have not yet achieved, but it is actually not a bad life right now.
So I spent the week trying to catch myself out thinking “Poor Me”. I managed to increase my awareness of the negative thoughts and pause to appreciate a little more. It is a beginning. (Of course, everything did come crashing down around me on the weekend. But I at least made a start and now have something to build on.)
Allowing myself to do things whenever I felt like it was a big risk. I’ve been working very hard to sustain some habits over the past month or so, particularly with regular exercise, and I was honestly quite worried that I’d just sink into a slump again because I wouldn’t feel like ever doing anything.
I think I was right to be worried about that. There were definitely a few days when I did nothing despite some lovely opportunities. I think this knowledge that I was still shirking despite all my focus and efforts recently contributed my mini-crisis on the weekend. To merely let myself wait until I feel like doing something is clearly not the most effective way for me to do things.
Yet I think I was also right to take the risk for the week. I discovered that maintaining a genuine intention to do something without trying to force myself to get it done straight away was often just enough. Knowing that I was going to something – a chore, exercise, a shopping trip, post a letter – meant that a part of me was on the lookout for a good, comfortabe time to do it. It meants I was ready to go when the feeling finally came around. For once, I didn’t spend every day last week feeling bad because I’d spent the first four hours of the day doing anything but the thing I’d planned to do. I didn’t feel bad for doing my relaxing first because I had the intention to do the chore and no longer felt pressure to get it done by a certain time of the morning. In fact, I realised that I had been putting a deadline on my chores that meant I had just given up if they weren’t done by a certain time.
So, I need more than just the a loose “I’ll do it when I feel like it”. I need to be prepared to do whatever it is I intend. I need to have things ready and to still arrange my day to give myself the best chance to do it. What I don’t need to do is to always tie myself down to a certain time and feel guilty and discouraged for not getting it done as early as possible.