Saturday, 10 March 2012
me and my shadow
I haven't written for a while. Probably a combination of reasons from being very busy at work after our week up North, to not really having anything very much to say. But I think there are two main reasons. One because I've been feeling a bit flat and two because I suddenly felt a bit uncomfortable about the whole blog thing, and I think the two are linked.
This is a blog called 'chattinghappy'. It is, generally speaking, about the pursuit of happiness. But there's a lot more to it than that.
Happiness is a sliding scale, or in fact a slippery slope, in that whilst it's possible to progress up it, it's all very easy to slip back down it again too. Obviously over time, with hard work and the right equipment it becomes easier to get to and then stay at the top. But like any other climb, you only really have any sense of where the top is if you start from somewhere near the bottom.
And that's also a big part of where this blog is coming from.
The blog is really about me and my climb up said slope. Not necessarily from the very bottom, but maybe from somewhere around a sort of happiness base camp. Maybe from a place just below the happiness base camp actually. A place where I'd pitched my own tent and made myself quite comfortable until, over time it felt like home. And then one day the wind blew away both my cosy tent but also the swirling clouds and I spotted the real base camp up ahead and realised I'd been in the wrong place for far too long.
This realisation is both uncomfortable and exciting. Full of both uncertainty and opportunity.
So far I've focused my posts on the exciting and the opportunity. But it isn't all like that.
There is a flip side. The unnerving, uncomfortable, uncertainty bit is hard work. And scary.
As I push further and further up the slope, back towards base camp and then beyond, I'm getting a new perspective on things. I'm seeing things I hadn't seen before. Mostly this is great. But there are also things I'm discovering about myself that aren't so great....my shadow side you could say. Every step of the way is a fantastic opportunity to find new ways, thoughts, behaviours and patterns. But only by challenging and breaking down the old ones. And you can only challenge the old habits by first discovering what they are, and examining them. This is the unraveling I have referred to on occasion, and it's actually a tricky and at times painful process to put everything about yourself under the microscope like this. You're bound to find things you don't like. And I have, plenty of them. I am clingy and needy, for example. I have low self esteem, I don't trust my own decisions and I find it hard to shake this underlying feeling of unidentified anxiety, to name a few. I've also worked out that in the past I've used things like food and shopping to numb these feelings rather than acknowledging them. But the point of this process is that now having realised what these feelings are I'm supposed to allow myself to really fully experience them, face them head on as opposed to drown them in pizza, really own and accept them, take back control of them and move on...in a sort of "feel the fear and do it anyway" type way. It's a fine line though, it's hard to resist slipping into old habits and obsessing over these bits, as if in peeling back the layers like this, newly formed scabs have appeared and now I just can't resist picking them! Plus there are also days when the cloud swirls back in and I wander off path a bit, there are days when I cant be bothered to try and purposefully let myself slip back a bit.
But mostly, I'm getting there, and even when I'm not, I know it's just part of the journey. And anyway, nobody said it would be easy.
There are 3 things that keep me vaguely heading in the right direction, and I can now recognise when I've gone off course because at least one of these things goes out the window:
1. Don't waste energy on things I cant change. That doesn't mean giving up, that just means accepting and letting go where relevant...accepting both that things are the way they are and that I feel the way I feel and not trying to change anything about what is, but instead taking control and choosing what to do next.
2. Keep going. Be determined. Persevere. Trust the process. The crappy bits are part of it. They're there for a reason. They're really just opportunities to put in place and practice new habits, as long as I can stay strong enough to see them as such.
3. Be honest, especially with myself. Don't bottle things up or put on a brave face. Don't ignore feelings. Speak up, even when it's uncomfortable to do so....this post being a good example.
This last one is the most important for me and has also been (nay still is) the hardest work. It's also the reason I think the blog had started to make me feel uncomfortable, because so far it wasn't necessarily wholly honest. It wasn't dishonest as such either though, it just wasn't necessarily the whole picture. I was speaking up, but only selectively. It was the smooth without the rough, the slope without the slippery bit. It was me but with no real mention of my shadow. Ok, so there's been the odd mention of a gremlin or moaning or whatever, but really, were it not for all the crappy bits, the downs and my shadow revealing all the bits that need work, none of this would be happening. There would be no need to steadily find my way back up the slope in the first place, and there would be no blog. So I think it's about time I let my shadow in on the act a little bit more.
So here's to the next chapter of 'chattinghappy', with a dash of 'chattingcrappy' thrown in for good measure!