I've written about being a people pleaser before, or I think I have but don't have the time or inclination to go back and look. Which makes me feel bad because I'm not making it easy for whoever is reading this, so i'm not pleasing you, so I'm sorry.
It's bloody hard work being a people pleaser. It dominates my life. Although it might not seem obvious sometimes, like in yesterday's meeting where I tried to stand up for myself and not back down. I felt like I didn't please a colleague and upset them, I hadn't coz i checked today.
When you try and please people it can make it hard in the moment, and make it doubly hard after the moment when you're reflecting on what happened.
I'm trying to take a break from people pleasing at the moment which means taking space from some relationships / friendships in my life.
This is really hard. It is my natural in built DNA to try and people please. I'm used to it and others are used to it to. It makes it even harder to say no, even if that no is to myself.
If i don't feel like (regardless of whether I have any evidence) I have pleased people I feel like a failure, like i have less worth and that I need to try even harder,
Bloody people, always wanting (in my mind) to be pleased
Justin Bieber once sang
"if you like the way you look that much then maybe you should go and love yourself"
He's a wise man Bieber.
But what do we do if we don't like the way we look that much, or the way we act, or the way we are, basically if we don't love ourselves?
Vitamin D comes from the sunshine.
Vitamin Sea comes from the seaside.
Where does Vitamin L(ove) come from?
For many people it comes from within. They believe in themselves. They can look in the mirror and focus on the good things they see. They can find the positive in a situation. They answer 'how are you' with 'good' instead of 'not bad'.
For me I'm still working on loving myself (that always sounds smutty) and giving myself some Vitamin L.
But it's hard, and I'm currently in a real low, and when I am I need others to help me out of it, to give me encouragement, to lend me a hand, to help me believe in myself, to tell me 'you can do it' to say the right thing.
The trouble is I don't want to ask, because I already feel shit about myself and super needy, and to ask for some Vitamin L from others just makes me feel more shit and more needy.
So what's the solution? We unfortunately, it depends on others spotting that I'm down and in need of some Vitamin L and coming to me, making the steps to fill the space where I have withdrawn. If I've gone quiet it's because I'm struggling. If i've withdrawn it's because I'm struggling.
What I really need is someone to tell me I'm valued.
Someone to tell me I have worth.
Someone to tell me I'm loved,
And ideally, this to be a face to face conversation, and include a hug.
Take Care, and don't be afraid to step into that space if someone has withdrawn from it
Last Friday on my way to the Climate Strike with my boys I bumped into Maff on the train who is another dad from the school.
I'm not sure we've ever chatted before, but just done that 'i recognise you' nod when our paths crossed. Anyway, amongst playing the jelly bean challenge we got talking about what he was up to and he told me about Camerados. I told him about my blogging. We had an immediate connection, life's funny like that.
In essence a Camerado is halfway between a stranger and a friend, people just alongside each other, no fixing, no agenda, just there. It's a movement of people who look out for each other, in daily life or in Public Living Rooms (pop up spaces) where people can go to relax, chat and look out for each other.
These are their principles
I really like this idea. I like the idea of having people to chat to who will listen. I like the idea of being one of those people who someone can chat to and I will listen.
Being kind, and human is the most important thing we can do.
I beat myself up quite a lot that I feel like I give more than I receive, that I care too much. But this is not something I should do, I should be proud that I care, I should care less about what other people are like, I should not compare, I should not need others attention or gratitude, I should be confident in my own value.
I should just try and be a camerado.
I am currently mid wobble, or maybe not mid, but definitely within one. It feels horrible.
My anxiety is spiking regularly, I can't keep off social media on my phone, i'm drinking too much and my mind is stuck on a constant thought loop about whether things I have done are the right things or the wrong things.
I know exactly what has triggered it.
Anxiety is much like a drug addiction, you can wean yourself off the thing(s) that make you anxious and work on being more resilient, but if you catch sight of your drug, touch it and don't necessarily actually have to taste it then it can set you spiking.
I'm sat at a desk on my own, no one sits within 10m of me. That doesn't help.
I havent spoken to anyone today.
I feel like I'm on the verge of tears.................................................
Round and round and round life feels confused
Like Kylie in her hot pants feeling they’ve been overused
Carrying your bags, holding umbrellas in the rain
Every smile electric, every word orchestral refrain
When the best thing ever also just may be the worst
Can instant connections, deep understanding ever be reversed
To touch, to feel to shake like a winged Papillon
Moonlit sonatas silhouetted in their song
Dawn glimpses over the water, glistens on the main
Simple pleasures, conversation, heart versus the brain
Your favourite song acoustic, stripped back to the core
Never give up hoping, encore encore encore
I support my mental health by taking Anti-Depressants, 200mg a day of Sertraline.
I've spent the last month cutting these down to 150mg. It may not sound much of a cut but you have to wean yourself off these things otherwise your head hurts (too much).
Last week I went to Glastonbury, and accidentally weaned myself off coffee too (£3 a cup!) so my head is definitely hurting today.
But you know what I'm actually pretty proud of myself. It was a huge step to start taking tablets to balance my mind up a bit, and its been a huge(r) step to decrease my dose, because that means I have to reply on my natural self more and not the chemicals. I'm not saying that my mind is sorted, and it probably never will be, but to have the confidence and will to take less of something which helps is a major major step.
Still a long way to go, but one step, or 50mg at a time....
Confidence and work.
Confidence and love.
Confidence and life.
Why is confidence at the heart of so many things, and why is confidence so hard.
You can be the best worker but without confidence you may not progress.
You could be the best partner but without confidence not find a partner.
You could have so much to offer in life but without confidence not achieve or indeed enjoy.
Confidence is made up of many things. Genetic and life experience / ability to learn / change.
I don't think mine is naturally very high (my uncontrollable factors). But I'm going to try and have more faith in my own abilities and do a little assessment, trying to err on the positive side and see myself in a positive light.
It's now 15 mins later and the table below was really uncomfortable to complete. Natural low self confidence makes me challenge every time i write something positive and make me think 'people will think you're arrogant, you're a dick', but I'm not doing this for them, I'm doing it for me, so here it is......
So (being positive and confident) I'm actually in good shape, I have a lot going for me.
The really interesting one was self trust, 80% of confidence is made up of these uncontrollable components and mine is a lot better than I would naturally think. I have not had a terrible time, my upbringing was not terrible, I can do lots of things and learn. So why don't I trust myself more?
I think that comes down to the other part of the table, the controllable factors.
Here (after another 15mins) is my honest, and positive assessment of those
So I think all of my controllable is in a pretty good place and I could:
- stand taller every day
- get back to the gym and eat more healthily
- smile more
- invest more time in training my mind
- record, revisit and believe my achievements, no matter how small
and crucially, give myself a break, look at the positive bits and be thankful for that.
Self harm has many forms.
It can include the physical, like cutting and burning or punching walls, all things that I have done before when my self love has been low and my self loathing high.
It can include the mental, self doubting talk for example. A regular occurance.
It also can include other things that don't do you any good, such as not exercising, not eating or not eating healthily and engaging in other things that do you harm, such as drugs or drink.
Some signs of self harm are easier to spot than others.
Self harm can also be a sign of stress (and of course depression / other MH conditions). I've written before about how stress affects the decision making part of your brain, this bit that may convince me that instead of a healthy balanced diet that will make me feel better and feel my body what it needs that instead I should eat junk food, white magnums and drink too much.
When you are stressed and making bad decisions, or not thinking straight you need to realise it, or you need help from others to help you realise it and help you through the tough patch.
With some bits of self harm like not eating, that might be making sure your friend eats. Taking them to lunch. Sometimes it's as simple as that to help.
Ah bank holiday, the crack of leather on willow, the sound of birdsong, the laughter at the bbq and the tippy tap of fingers on a keyboard.
I've been working this morning. It's my choice I suppose but my emotional / mental bank account needs some reassurance that I have things at work in hand, that the plan is a good one and that I'm going to deliver it, hence the last 2 hours of tippy tap.
As well as the double trouble of anxiety and depression I suffer from presenteeism as well. Or more accurately because of anxiety and depression (and also having a lot of work to do) I suffer from presenteeism. This means I check my phone a lot when i'm not at work, i log on on a bank holiday and sort things out that can't wait to get ahead of the game and i find it very hard to switch off. This means my brain and body are regularly in flight or flight mode, thinking about what's happened, worrying about what might and struggling to be very present.
When i go back to work I might get asked if I had a nice weekend (I might not of course) and whether it was nice to have a three day break from work. I'll lie and say yes, but the reality is that when you think like I do you don't often get a break, you can come back from time away from work more exhausted.
People will tell you that work can wait but in this instance I don't believe it can. I have a huge deadline in 3 weeks that has to be delivered, it can't move, it needs to be high quality, it is reputationally very important and I have to make sure it's delivered. I have a team to support (who are also struggling) countless internal and external customers to keep happy and am delivering with the sword of damocles of uncertainty hanging over my head of what my job will be in 6 weeks time.
So why am I working all hours, why am I pushing myself?
It's because I am massively passionate about what I do. I want things to be perfect (another curse), I want to please people (another one) and I also want to make sure that anything I am associated with goes well and that I get a job at the end of it doing what I'm good at.
Q. Am i working too much and suffering from presenteeism?
Q. Why's that?
A. Well it's complicated, but uncertainty over future role, massive work pressure and brain wiring all play a part
Q. Am I ok?
A. Just about. But sustained working like this with uncertainty is not healthy.
Q. Am I coping / resilient?
A. Yep. Come and spend a week in my shoes and see how you do. I am amazingly resilient
Q. Why did I do this Q&A
A. Not sure, it seemed like a good idea at the time
Anyway, ramble over. I need to do some more work.....
I was with my team earlier this week and we had a really good constructive meeting.
We start our meetings with check ins, to see how we all are, at work, at home, physically and mentally. This is really important because we probably only see each other once a month at most and whilst a virtual hug is nice, nothing beats the real thing....
Going round the table listening to how people are, hearing a colleague talk about how they'd been wearing a mask quite a bit recently (i assume this is where the expression 'putting on a brave face' really comes from) and admiring the openness with which people are able to and can share is inspiring.
One thing that was evident was that everyone has some chips, some have some cracks, some have been repaired or pieced back together, but i described myself as broken.
I'd never used that word to describe how I felt before. I broke a rib once. I broke my nose on a bouncy castle, but never have I 'felt' broken.
I'm not in pieces, I just feel like who I am has taken a real bashing recently and that relentless pressure combined with not enough time to maintain or build resilience has resulted in this feeling, And the feeling is pretty horrible. On the outside I'm still whole, still working, still delivering, still caring, still dading but on the inside, the inside of my head I'm not really sure who I am.
Challenges to the core of who I am are really hard to take and have affected me a lot. I don't want to feel broken, I'm just not really sure how to fix myself or at least put all the pieces of the jigsaw the right way up so that I can see the picture.
We looked at this picture in the meeting.
A lot of us were on the right hand side.
I'm not really sure where broken fits, maybe it's fuzzy mind. But it's kind of like your own belief in who you are and what you are good at and why you add value has been smashed. And when that gets smashed and is broken it's hard to feel anything apart from confused and empty and alone.
Mr Paul Wyse