Monthly Archives: December 2016

when is enough…enough?

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Unknown-1.pngWinnicott talks about the concept of being ‘good enough’. This originally was in the context of the relationship between mother and baby. The child needs a mother who is ‘good enough’. But it is a principle that I try and apply to many different areas of my life- work, rest and play.

But when is ‘enough’, ‘enough’?

I have my first essay to submit. Deadline is 2nd January- (not the kindest of submission dates me thinks!)

My Masters course is either a pass or a fail. (the essays get graded but final degree classification is pass or fail).

I am a recovering perfectionist and I am choosing (against every fibre of my being screaming in protest) to submit an essay that is just ‘good enough’. It doesn’t have to be all singing-all dancing, it just needs to be good enough to pass.  Wowzers, I’m finding that hard! Because I genuinely do not know when ‘enough is enough!’.

At the moment, I am tired and a little churned up emotionally…so I really do not want to spend between now and January 2nd, slogging on an essay unnecessarily. I have thoroughly enjoyed the reading and I’ve learnt a lot in the process, but I’m ready for a break.

Unknown.pngSo how do I approach this? and can I actually do this in practice? More importantly, how on earth do I manage this shouting internal voice screaming ‘failure’ at me? And how will I manage myself when a) my peers start talking about how much they have done and b) can I cope when I get the mark returned- knowing I could have done better, if I’d put more effort in? (Gosh, I am finding this ridiculously hard!)

So plan of action thus far… with my internal dialogue shouting

  1. The word count is between 4000-5000. 4000 words is enough.
  2. Get to 4000 and then STOP. 
  3. Refer to theory
  4. Give both sides of the argument
  5. Structure it in some kind of coherent order
  6. Reference accurately
  7. Proof read it
  8. SUBMIT and MOVE ON.

Surely, if I do these, it should pass? (I need to accept the uncomfortable truth that ultimately until this one is marked, I won’t entirely know- so I will need to manage my anxiety and add a little bit of ‘fingers crossed’.

Unusually, I will now allow my inner critic a space… usually I just try to squash it down, but pretending it isn’t there is really quite a stupid strategy (for me).

“If you stop at 4000, it will be rubbish. Usually, you write well over the word limit and in that process of editing, it gets better. You are basically suggesting handing in your first draft…ARE YOU MAD! It will never be good enough. You will fail. The tutor will think you are thick. You talk a good talk but can’t write an essay. You will lose all credibility. Everyone will ask what you’ve got and not believe you when you say you were trying to just do ‘enough’. ‘Enough’- what a load of bullshit. Who thought of that?!? Why? Why do the course unless you are going to put 100% in to it? Just because its a pass or fail- you don’t have to lower your standards… bit weak isn’t it. Sometimes Hepzibah, you are just a light weight- not very committed, lazy and quite frankly not very impressive.”

Gosh, it’s good to write. That is what I’m carrying at the moment- no wonder I’m feeling crap! So what do I do about it? Well I think I need to counteract the inner critic to move forward.

“Yep, I am planning to do this differently. Yes, I am planning to hand in effect, my first draft. And yes, it may not be as good as previous essays. I think it is really unlikely that it will fail. I think if I do the points 1-7 listed above, it should be ok. I can’t guarantee that until I get the mark back- but I think, it should be enough. The tutor will think what he thinks- I can’t control what he thinks and most probably I will never know what he really thinks. I can write essays- in fact I can write quite eloquently. It may not be the most refined thing I have ever written- but I can write. And I can write well. Yep, my peers will ask what I’ve got and I can either choose not to tell them, or I can celebrate what I get- knowing my own internal motivation. ‘good enough’-has caught a very big following in fact… I am totally committed to this course. I have worked hard. But I’m also totally committed to my family, my friends, my dogs, my work and my self. I’m not lowering my standards I am trying to do things differently and stay well- both physically and mentally. I am many things but I am not a lightweight. I am totally committed to all I do. I’m not lazy- I just want a break. Impressive is in the eye of the beholder…”

And as I write my response, I know that I don’t believe a word of it. BOTHER. I know its true- but I don’t know its true about me. SHIT. So, that’s why, I have to stick to the plan. I have to hand in a ‘good enough’ essay and deal with it. I remember handing in an essay for my bible course diploma- it ‘only’ got 89%. I had a TOTAL meltdown. My tutor agreed to a re-mark and the mark did get increased however, I still remember what he said to me… ‘Hepzibah, this is a warning. The mark has been raised, but you know as well as I do, that the mark isn’t the issue. Your response is.” 20 years later, I have to put that advice in to practice. Sometimes you just have to prioritise, Hepzibah, get over yourself.

images.jpegSo, I am going to grit my teeth. Do points 1-7. Have fun with my family. Enjoy my time away with some of the most wonderful people I know. Walk the pups lots. Watch films. Read novels. Crochet and colour. Make and bake. Sleep. Eat. (maybe drink the odd baileys) and replenish the reserves ready for the next bit.

I know that for many who read my blog, Christmas is a painful time. Hanker down.You’ve got this far. You can do it.

Thanks for listening.

 

 

 

Emotional Resilience?

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images.jpegOver the Summer, my emotional resilience was questioned. Some people who didn’t know me, made judgements on my emotional capacity to deal with potentially stressful situations- and they decided that I wasn’t up to the task.

That decision hurt and I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

And it hurt because it was wrong. It hurt because the decision was made on incomplete evidence and that felt very unfair.

Being a psychiatric patient has meant that for years my ’emotions’ have been subject to other people’s judgements, decisions and prejudices. Not just from professionals but also from amateur psychs who often feel they have the right to comment on ‘how well I’m coping’.

I am regularly encouraged by those who tell me how much I’ve ‘improved’- which in my mind of course implies that my previous state of being was ‘weak’ or ‘failing’. ‘You’re coping so much better’ is of course not only hugely patronising but also an indication that my previous responses were not ‘quite up to socially acceptable standards’.

To be honest, I’m so accustomed to it that usually I don’t even notice and certainly never comment. But this particular judgement had real implications for my future. Wonderfully the decision has now been reversed and I have now been deemed ’emotionally resilient enough’… but in the months between the two decisions I’ve made some good realisations…


images-1.jpegI am beginning to realise that I am one of the most emotionally resilient people I know.
Based on the definition that emotional resilience is the ability to pick yourself up after negative events… I could be a world champion! I challenge any one that sees my ‘mental issues’ as weakness to live in my shoes for a week sometimes and see how well you do. Yep- I’m feeling cross. Bloody cheek. I’m cross that people feel they can make judgements about me but also I’m cross because most people have absolutely no idea what Ive been through in my life or what I face on a daily basis sometimes.

So actually, the original decision did me a favour. It enabled me to step back and say ‘really?’ What does anyone else actually know about me… Why do we assume that seeing a therapist is a sign of weakness/ needing support… let me tell you DBT is not for the faint hearted- most weeks, I come out feeling like I’ve done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson…

Unknown-1.jpegIf I cry… so what… if I laugh… so what… sometimes my reactions may even surprise me- but one thing I do know, is that I will pick myself up and get back on track. Sometimes it takes me longer than at other times. Sometimes I’m not always sure how I will be able to recover- but up until now, I always have.

Today is the first anniversary of my brother passing away. I have felt physically really poorly the last few days so that always impacts my emotions, but I’ve survived the year. I remember the day after his funeral I cried and cried with my beautiful friend Carol, and I could not imagine how I could keep going. Things looked really bleak. But I’ve done it. I’m sad today, I’m writing with tears in my eyes- but I’ve done it. My brother died- but I have managed to stay alive.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, for me, is Emotional Resilience in Action. 

Sparking Joy

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I recently read ‘The Magic of Tidying’ by Marie Kondo. Wow, I absolutely loved it! For those interested in decluttering and simplifying I highly recommend it.

Unknown.jpegOne of the criteria Kondo applies is keeping those things that ‘spark joy’- clothes, things, people… it can be applied to anything… and I have been applying the principle across the board and the results have been interesting!

I realised that I have lots of things that spark joy in my home. Lots of things. Little things that I look at and smile. And those things that don’t spark joy have gone. New homes and charity shops will enjoy them no doubt.

But I also realised that as I swept through my clothes that I have extremely few clothes that spark joy. I could count on one hand (perhaps two at a push) those clothes that I enjoy wearing and feel good in. (One of those outfits I am wearing today and both were wonderful hand me downs from the gorgeous Sally :))

Ive been wondering whether that is to do with my clothes or my body… not sure… but I joy has been sparked in my top today 🙂

images-1.jpegSo I’m on mission spark joy. I’m not talking about never doing the mundane things that just have to be done… but I am talking about those optional extras that take up a lot of time that ultimately I am choosing to do… I’m also on a mission to re-think my wardrobe. I have been thinking recently that my clothes and shoes are far too sedate… so perhaps vintage, a bit of retro or even bespoke might be in order… watch this space!