Saturday, November 23, 2013

In spite of fear

Let's talk fear of failure. We all have it to a degree, but it's how we deal with it that counts.

A few years ago, I went to a counsellor to discuss how I was feeling generally unproductive and unmotivated in my life. I was genuinely concerned about having attention deficit disorder or another similar issue that was holding me back. After a little diagnostic test, it was shown that I don't. The test did show that I am a type A personality and very hellbent on perfectionism.

This was a surprise to me because I don't like to work very hard. It's not easy for me to admit that on a public forum like this, but it's true. As much as I love to be seen as a hard working, intelligent, high achieving individual, I only work as much as I have to in order to give that outward appearance to others.  This is not because I don't want to be a hard worker, but there is always something - something just out of my mind's reach - that is holding me back from all those things that I truly want to achieve.

But, the counsellor said fear of failure is a very strong restraining force for many perfectionists. We are so afraid that whatever we put our hand to might not come out to our standards or to the high standards of others, that we don't even try.

Lately I've been heavily reflecting on my inner self. I've been thinking of my true inner values, my desired outcomes, all my goals and aspirations, and contrasting it with my behaviours. I've been struggling for years now with the disconnect between what I want from myself and what I actually *do*. It's been difficult.

This morning it clicked, though. It was like jumping into a very deep, very cold pool.

I am so afraid of failure, so afraid of looking bad in the eyes of others, and so deeply afraid of letting myself down. 

I'm also very heavily extrinsically motivated. I'm a people pleaser. I get my sense of value from others telling me I have value.

Right now, I'm not sure exactly where this leaves me. I'm not sure if it's possible to change where I get my self of self-worth from externally to internally. But I do know this: It's time to say a big old fuck you to fear. It's time to say that it's okay to be afraid of failing but to go ahead and try anyway. It's time to realize that nobody will judge me on my outcomes as long as they see I am trying.

And I will always try. I'm too young to lay down and play dead and accept the status quo. I must move forward and live without fear.

Monday, November 18, 2013

How do you keep yourself mentally healthy?

I have long struggled with mild mental health issues. Of late, it has become very easy to let my self care fall by the way-side, which of course is going to result in a decline in my mental health. One thing I have certainly learned since becoming a mother is that to take of everyone else, I need to take care of myself.

This is what my personal mental health self-care regime looks like at its best:

  • I take vitamin D (2000-4000iu a day, depending on the time of year)
  • I limit caffeine to 1-2 cups of coffee, early in the day
  • I limit refined sugars
  • I get exercise daily. Even a short walk with Bird daily is so helpful. Outdoor exercise is best for me.
  • I take time each day to recognize what I have accomplished and what I feel grateful for. This is usually a list of five items under each heading. Even on days that are barely productive, recognizing small accomplishments keeps me from having negative thoughts about my worth. I write these out in my journal.
  • I often have to limit my social networking time.
  • When negative self-talk becomes overwhelming to me, I take time to write out the most common negative thoughts and then I craft rebuttals to each one. Then, when the thought pops into my head, I already have a planned way to shut it down. This is surprisingly effective. For example, if I routinely find myself thinking, "I don't understand why anyone likes me" I can rebut with "I am a kind person, a good listener, and I deserve to have the respect and love of others".
  • When negative thoughts pass into my mind, I acknowledge the thought and give myself permission to have the thought - but then tell myself that just because I am thinking a certain way does not mean that it is true or that it reflects my true self.
  • I spend time actively pursuing positivity.
  • When I feel like I am having more bad days than good, I re-examine my progress on all these points. If I am routinely doing these things and they are not helping, I know I need to seek additional support or help.
Tell me how you keep your mental health at its peak?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hello? Is there anyone home?

Of course I am speaking to my brain. I envision a hollow, echo-y sound because lately it feels like there's not a lot going on upstairs. Occupational hazard of being a stay at home mom.

First, an update on our dear sweet Bird.

Bird is an unbelievable 20 months old (well, in two days). This utterly blows my mind. It means he's going to be TWO in four short months.

He has become the happiest, funniest child.


  • chores - sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, laundry. These are things he actually begs me to do each day. It is so much easier to get these things done when your child is enthusiastic about just watching you do them. He has his mini-mop and regularly parades around with the full-size broom, saying, "'weep! 'weep! 'weep!"
  • Talking. Honey child never stops talking. He's mostly using one word statements, but due to his enormous vocabulary, there is very little he can't get across.
  • Going for walks, either to the neighbourhood playground or to see the duckies at the stream behind our hours.
  • Shuh-shies (french fries). He gets them every couple weeks and LOVES them. Mom of the year over here.
  • SuperWhy and Sesame Street. Hey, his father was away for 7 weeks. Don't judge. We watched a bit of TV twice a day - when we were waking up before breakfast, and when I was cooking supper.
  • When he is done eating and the food is still in front of him. He pushes it away and if it doesn't disappear he'll  dump the plate on the table or throw it.
  • When I don't let him mess with the washing machine buttons or dishwasher buttons.
  • Honestly, there's very little he just objects to.

Our favourite fall memories so far have been walks "at the speed of toddler," basically meaning walks led by Bird, a glorious trip to a corn maze, the costume party at a local play cafe, and Daddy's first few days back home in mid-October.

An update on me

Well, being a stay home mom is wonderful. And not so wonderful at times. We had 7 weeks where it was just Bird and I. During that time, there was a sleep regression, several teeth, and lots of idle days. Bird's nap falls right when most of the free playgroups and activities happen because although most toddlers nap in the early afternoon,Bird naps from 10-1ish. So we often have a hard time filling our days with things to keep Bird engaged and socialized. And, as a result, I have a hard time keeping myself socialized as well.  While K. was away, I started feeling very isolated and lonely because Bird goes to bed at 7. My friends all seemed to be busy with their families and day to day lives. I had a lot of help from family and a few friends did venture over to visit, which was so wonderful.

The theme of isolation and loneliness seems to be continuing, though. I have not gotten back into the swing of having a social life yet, although it's been a month since K. has been home. I honestly really miss having outside interests such as ballet, outings with friends, my Career Development Practitioner program, and even work. We have discussed the possibility of me returning to a part-time career, but I haven't put much effort into finding one that suits my needs so far. We even discussed me returning to a full time career, but concluded that it is not what either of us prefer for Bird.

I am never sorry I chose to stay at home with Bird. Never. But I do lament that it really doesn't seem possible for a mother to have it all without feeling some sort of role conflict.  I know many men face this as well, but it honestly seems that women have this inborn need to do all of the things and that it can very difficult to be personally fulfilled and the mother we want to be all at once - no matter what path you chose : working, working at home, or staying at home.

Anyway, my upcoming challenge for myself is to find some way to have a little adult interaction on a weekly basis and use my brain. The challenge will be to keep my anxiety from holding me back.