Day 48

Some recent readings…

READING

WHAT TO DO

Live a Little!: Breaking the Rules Won’t Break Your Health by Susan M. Love and Alice D. Domar

“Instead of trying to be healthy so that you can enjoy life, you squander your happiness in the pursuit of more health” (5). Softer lines, softer edges (more like a bubble!)
“Pretty Healthy means, first of all, that your health habits contribute to, not distract from, your enjoyment of life.  When you’re Pretty Healthy, you live in such a way that you don’t bring untimely disability or death upon yourself.  You have sufficient supplies of energy, and you’re free from obsession about the state of your body or your mind” (5).
“Spend too much time caring for others while neglecting yourself and you’ll get sick – or maybe just irritable, resentful, and exhausted. … What’s the secret of [people] who give care without suffering excess stress?  Accepting help and having social support” (179). Saying “yes” to tea/drink invitations, asking Mom to make extra soup/leftovers

Overcoming Perfectionism: Finding the Key to Balance and Self-Acceptance by Ann Smith

“I have learned that if I just keep walking in the direction that feels best, things have a way of working out” (3).  
“Indicator of Perfectionism: Avoiding Stillness and Quiet

The negative self-talk we become so accustomed to makes it difficult for us to enjoy moments of peace.  Some have described those critical voices as the ‘committee’.  They tell us we aren’t doing enough or that we are stupid.  The criticism goes on and on; it is an endless cycle.  When we stop our compulsive behaviour, we are haunted with unexplained feelings of guilt, shame, anger, hurt, or fear” (50).

Understanding the feelings of shame are unrelated to the act of sitting and using strategies to keep the voice distracted
“[These] feelings of guilt would grow until they no longer were about his behaviour but were a reflection of his worth as a person.  This stronger, deeper pain is called shame.  At this point [he] would feel bad, worthless, and unlovable” (59).
PAGE 72 ACTIVITY: If I only had one year to live, what would be important to me?

  • Feel peace of mind
  • Give something back
  • Show up for others when it’s important
  • Be a loving person
  • Be physically healthy and at home in my body – a balance
  • SPOUSAL RELATIONSHIP
    • Be interdependent
    • Be comfortable with sexuality in the relationship
    • Validate myself and my partner, acceptance
“Remember that it isn’t the house that’s the problem; it is your own thoughts about the house and the choices you made that created the stress.  When perfectionists are anxious, they begin to fix the world around them to get order in their minds. … Review your values around relationships and work.  See how they measure up to the reality of what is on your mind, how long the to-do list has become, and when you last shared a quiet moment with the people you love” (80). Reminding myself that the to do list isn’t important enough to sacrifice my sanity, ability to find self-worth and my relationship with my wife and friends/family
“With their significant other, the perfectionist feels that a good husband, wife, or lover should always … have sex when the partner wants to, even if one is tired.  [This is] very nice, but [has nothing] to do with intimacy, and holding [this] expectation is a setup for feeling like a failure.  It is simply impossible to be that good. … Intimacy requires that we let go and allow ourselves to be vulnerable, with no idea of the outcome” (92). Communication with regards to this, especially by making it easier, will help me determine which is genuine anxiety and which is fatigue (the former to fight through and the latter not to)
“The difficulty with hiding or suppressing feelings is that you lose the ability to choose which ones to hide, and you lose love and closeness in the process” (92-93). I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE!!!
“Steven Covey has said, ‘Begin with the end in mind.’  In other words, what do you value most when you communicate?  What is the goal?  When we use communication to protect and defend ourselves more than to share who we are, it is no wonder that our relationships and our self-esteem suffer” (97). Remember why we argue/talk = to find a better version of us at the end, so don’t think that someone needs to be right or wrong (because more often than not, I feel right and alone)
“Step One: Identifying the Problem

Memories may start to surface, but they often bring a great deal of confusion.  Everything you once thought you understood has been reframed to look like something else.  Perfectionism felt like an asset; now it’s a defect.  You don’t know if you can trust your own perceptions anymore. … You may trust that the new things you are hearing from your new support system feel right inside, and you may temporarily become dependent on others for a reality check” (132).

Ask others to “watch out for me” and while acknowledging the feelings that this is blind trust, that these feelings are centred in the blackness
“It is necessary to begin with what happened to you [when identifying the problem].  This requires a short visit to a painful past, not something to be dwelled upon while blaming and wallowing for months or years.  The goal is to feel it now and move through it.  The ultimate goal is to improve your quality of life” (132). What is the source of this blackness in me???  I wish I understood completely, if only to put it away and move past it; but that inability to know is important to my recovery, to my moving past it.  Ironically enough, to move past it might mean being ok not understanding it completely…
“I have always had to curb my enthusiasm and watch out for my impulsiveness.  Those two traits combined got me into some trouble in the past and could still surface today.  I have always been a talker, and if I don’t think before I talk, I can make a mess of things.  Challenges like this are not character defects.  When things go badly, it is usually the result of a combination of things, such as how much we used our gift, the timing, and the mood we were in at the time. … Everyone has traits that are great and not so great in his or her essence.  Judging your essence as bad can paralyze you with shame.  Accepting that you do not need to change your essence will take the sting out of making mistakes” (148-149). Relates quite well to my volume analogy (everyone is their own stereo with certain fundamentals, but life’s events, joys, interactions and traumas adjust the volume, bass, treble and all those other dials only my father knows how to use), just that I shouldn’t feel anxious or bad about my stereo – it is my stereo, with the dials a little misaligned right at the moment
“As a perfectionist ‘steps down off the chair,’ he or she is flooded with painful thoughts and self-doubt. … Fear says, ‘No one is going to want to be around me, knowing I’m weak and depressed.’ … The shocking reality is that if people love you and really care, they will be happy to see you ‘off the chair.’  They want to know who you are.  It is awkward at first when you begin to let them know that you have needs and feelings as well as a bad day or problem you need help with” (150). Being honest with my wife about the overwhelming nature of the household chores was a start – it can go further into the anxieties I have around my self-worth (needed to feel validation and have positive messages said to me) and sex, the fact that I suppressed wanting head out of perceived selfishness or the doubt that I will be able to perform at the same level the next day, if called upon, or that I owe something out of it (i.e. that I couldn’t say ‘no’ the next day if I actually am tired)
“Shame is sometimes an invisible saboteur in our lives.  It is important to know what your shame feels like and how to identify it quickly.  Once you identify shame as the source of your discomfort, you can do something to intervene and manage it more effectively than you have in the past.  The only alternative to facing it is to relapse into your unwanted patterns to cover it up.  People use words like sick, devastated, bad, crushed or worthless to describe the feeling … not able to identify how it happened or how to get out of it. … The antidote for shame is coming out of the dark: describing your shame to someone who is safe and working it through. … Therapists can be safe supports and guides, but since you have to pay them, the unconditional support of friends and loved ones is meaningful on a deeper level” (150-151). Telling my wife that I am feeling anxious and equipping her with the tools to kick me out of it (as opposed to having her just feel bad for me, which almost gives me a justification for feeling bad or another reason to feel worse about it) or calling Mom and having her talk me off the ledge
“Antidotes for a Shame Attack

  • Identify the shame attack quickly and name it.
  • Come out.  Don’t hide from safe people.  Tell someone who cares about you how you feel.  Talk about the feeling more than the cause.  Knowing why may not help you feel better.
  • Read helpful writings.  Keep handy anything that has helped you before and read or listen over and over, if necessary, instead of obsessing or analyzing what you did wrong or what you are upset about.
  • While you’re in the midst of a shame attack, don’t trust your own thoughts.  They are probably all negative and distorted by the pain.  It is the shame talking, and it will pass.
  • Put energy into self-caring until you feel less vulnerable.  Go outdoors, put your bare feet in the grass, take walks, pray, breathe, exercise, buy yourself flowers, or get a massage.
  • Once the shame has lifted, notice your patterns and your progress [what worked, etc.]” (152-153).
“Letting go encompasses … we let go of the future, striving to live in the moment and looking ahead only to plan our actions, not the outcomes or our feelings” (154-155). Planning ahead isn’t bad, but expecting how to feel afterwards is – living with the uncertainty without letting madness fill my heart and soul
“Paradox of Acceptance

An individual cannot change his or her essence.  People can moderate and try harder to shift their behavior in the direction of your needs, but they may fail or be inconsistent.  [In a relationship], the bottom line is that behaviors like respect, kindness, generosity, honesty, loyalty, and fidelity are good things to expect and cannot be negotiated.  These essentials may even require improvement at times, but they must be there in the first place. … What about legitimate concerns that are bothering you?  Even if you work diligently to be accepting, there will be issues that come up in any relationship in which needs conflict.  Acceptance does not mean that you won’t ever be upset or complain, it just means that you won’t dwell on it daily and criticize regularly.  It is wise to have a talk about the hot topic – for example, the mess that has been in the corner for three months. … Your loved one needs to know how you feel about the issue, and you can hope that this time something might change, but also try not to get obsessed or hung up on it.  If you can let it go, that’s great; if you can’t, and it is making you resentful, take action yourself out of love, not as a way to demonstrate your superiority.  Clean up the corner!” (163-165).

Mantra of “I love her” could combat this until we can talk about the worthwhile things calmly
“Another paradox of acceptance is that when there is a frequent, plentiful exchange of love, gratitude, compliments, and attachment behaviors in general, we aren’t bothered by the trivia.  Even if nothing changes except that there is more love, we can be happy and laugh about what we don’t like.  We can actually be happy whenever we think loving thoughts about the people in our lives. … Love can return if we are able to catch the critical voice and turn it around” (165-166). This would be amazing…
“Humor has many known benefits for short- and long-term health, happiness, satisfaction with life, work, parenting, and intimate relationships. … Perfectionists have trouble laughing at themselves, and it is a true sign of growth when they can. … Start making a list of things that you know will make you laugh, and use them deliberately as an antidepressant or a stress buster, rather than waiting for humor to come to you” (170-171). Make a “happy list”
“Imperfect Things to Do and Enjoy

  • (With a friend or a partner), take a walk on a rainy day, stepping in puddles along the way.
  • Set the alarm on your phone for a ‘breathing break’ several times a day.  Stand up and take a few deep breaths or do something else you enjoy for a minute.
  • Post specific affirmations you may need where you will see them regularly and easily.  Move them and change them often so they stay relevant and visible to you.  Examples: ‘You have done enough.’  ‘You are important.’  ‘I accept myself as I am today.’  ‘You are good enough.’  ‘Choose love.’
  • Deliberately leave something undone every day.  At the end of the day, reflect on it and tell someone proudly that you were able to let go.
  • Seek out children [or kittens/puppies]” (208-209).
“One final suggestion to assist in your enjoyment of imperfection is to listen to the following meditation each day or whenever you need a reminder of how perfect you are right now.

‘Relax you body and your mind in whatever way is most comfortable for you.  Become conscious of your breathing, letting go of distractions, concerns, and tension.  Let worries and to-do lists float away with every breath.

The critical voices of your own mental “committee” are silent for now.  With each breath, in each moment, you can choose to believe these new positive messages.  A new voice of love and acceptance is developing in you that will soon silence any critical thoughts.  Your essence is seeking the safety, acceptance, and unconditional love that this voice will provide.  Listen now to this new affirming voice:

  • I honor and celebrate my humanness.
  • My only responsibility is to be true to myself – to embrace my essence.  There is no need to be perfect or act perfectly.
  • My greatest assets are…
  • I can enjoy being still.  I am supposed to make mistakes – I was made that way.
  • My humanness makes it easier for others to love me and reach out to me.
  • What I’m doing is just enough.
  • My body is healthy and perfect just the way it is.
  • I can trust my inner voice to tell me what I need.  I am lovable no matter what I do.
  • I accept myself exactly as I am, for today, this moment.

Pause now and breathe in what you have heard with your hand on your heart’” (208-210).

Record this, have my wife record this and/or make my own and do the same (especially where the dot-dot-dots are)

“14 Ways To Create The Best Relationship Of Your Life” on MindBodyGreen

“Every day, try openly reaching out to someone and asking for their attention or affection.  Accept that you are a mammal and that love is an ancient, wired-in survival code. You are happier, healthier, stronger, deal with stress better, and live longer when you foster your bonds with your loved ones. It is OK to need them; they are your greatest resource. We are not designed for self-sufficiency. The strongest among us accept this need for connection and risk reaching for others.”
“The next time you feel uncertain or worried or anxious, try just mentioning this to your partner and taking their hand, or noticing their emotional signals and reaching for their hand.  The bonds of love offer us a safe haven where we can take shelter and regain our emotional balance. The latest study in our lab shows that just holding your loved one’s hand can calm your brain and shut down fear.”
“Take a quiet moment, tune into the emotional channel and see if you can each share with your partner what you need most.  Keep it simple and concrete. Do you need comfort, reassurance, support, and empathy, a clear message of how important you are to him/her? If it’s too hard to share this, share how hard it is to open up and ask.”
“Know that the best recipe for great sex is safe emotional connection and open communication.”
“Tell each other your main goal for the next year and see if you can find one way to support each other to reach it.  It is clear that when we know someone has our back, we are more confidant and more adventurous. We achieve our goals more easily and are less derailed by disappointments.”
“Honor your connection. Create small rituals to recognize your bond.  Maybe it’s a special kind of kiss when you leave in the morning or a special 10-minute bonding time when you first come home. This is sacred time. No business agendas, problem solving or distractions in the form of small electric screens are allowed.”

 

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