Let me tell you, I'm all about a bit of self help. I don't mean I'm light fingered (except for this one time in Sainsburys but I totally thought I'd scanned that Twix at the self serve) no I mean I travel the road less travelled, I can heal my life and I have my very own happiness project on the go. If I know anything about self help it's that you must think positive things, every day, all of the time - preferably whilst looking in a mirror. The problem is that sometimes there doesn't feel like there's anything positive to think about; sure every day is a brand new day but sometimes I don't even have the emotional energy for that. Mission acceptance is not about pretending everything is peachy all the time, it's about accepting everything - the highs and the lows. So this week the plan was to spend some time every evening ruminating on everything crappy.
The first night was easy, I had had a meeting with my son's nursery about his development and whilst the meeting itself was positive, like any parent I experience motherhood as a deep well of anxiety. It was a sad process but it also felt honest and authentic and it was actually sort of calming to face my fears about my son's future. That night I fell into a deep, uninterrupted sleep.
The next evening I was kind of looking forward to my pity party. I really let loose on everything and everyone that I felt was letting me down in that moment. It didn't feel as cathartic as the night before in fact the deeper I dug the more I found; it was like popping a zit, it feels good at first but then it's just a bit gross and wrong and you're always left with the feeling that there's a little something left behind.
It is a truth that the more you practise something the better you get at it and the next day I was quickly able to access the dark recesses of my mind. I found myself focusing on my career and the desperate reality of being a present mother and achieving my dreams. I had this acceptance thing covered and I had accepted that everything was hopeless.
The next day at work it seemed I had carried my moody musings into the office - usually I'm a positive presence, always up for a bit of banter and head cheerleader for teamwork. As a support worker it feels indecent to bring your problems to work but still I shuffled in cloaked in my cloud of gloom. I set about a project that had been assigned to me, having never done it before I felt little confidence I could do it well. I asked one of my seniors if she could go over it for me. She reassured me that I could do it and reminded me that it was my responsibility, 'I wouldn't have given it to you if I didn't believe you could do it.' I snapped back that as she had seniority it was ultimately her responsibility, 'That's not the point,' she reminded me, 'I want to help you develop and we have to work together.' I told her that ultimately if I didn't do it, she would have no choice but to get it done, 'Yes,' she said calmly, 'but that would be really sh*tty'. And then I started to cry. I explained that I had a lot on my mind and I apologised for bringing it to work. She gave me a hug and got me some much needed cake. Just thinking negatively had turned me into a negative person - maybe there was something to this self help stuff.
Determined to complete my mission I went back to my bedtime brooding but I realised that enough was enough, I wasn't willing to leave it there. When I found myself in a 'what's the point' black hole I sat with it for a while and then I got myself a pen. Dark thoughts in isolation are just dark thoughts, dark thoughts followed by action is a plan. I drew up a mind map of the steps I could take to create change, it really helped to put my skittish brain to rest - fear ceases to be fear when you face it. Then the next day I actually put some of the plan to work and productivity feels great, no matter how it originates.
I did the same the next day and it was pretty awesome - thinking negatively when you know you're going to follow up with solutions, ends up feeling like thinking positively - it's like some crazy emotions algebra. Despite this happy revelation, I'm glad the dog days are over - being glum just doesn't suit me. I found that there is some good in owning up and accepting life's little messes but from now on I'll only do it once a month.
Where do you keep your dark thoughts?