Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Don't Feed the Negativity Conclusion

I spent a wonderful 4 days in London this month. The trip was filled with highs, like getting to see St Paul's Cathedral, The Natural History Museum, the Globe Theatre and so many other places form my bucket list. But I had my moments of negativity as well. When travelling, these thing are to be expected. It’s not plain sailing, you are navigating a foreign country (even if that country is your next-door neighbour), and it is naturally stressful to be away from home comforts.
With my favourite part of London
But I often overreact in stressful environments. I find it difficult to deal with failure and mistakes at home; but when overseas I ended up having panic attacks when things didn't go my way. When I took a wrong turn in my quest to find Victoria Street and ended up in I-don’t-even-now-where in the middle of London I was consumed by fear, anger and disgust (at myself).
Or when I bought the wrong rail tickets to the airport from a self-service machine, I felt like the world’s biggest failure.

I called myself stupid and an idiot. I described the events as inevitable when you’re someone like me. I ticked off three or four of Dr David Burns’ negative thought patterns as I internally and externally attacked myself.

Everything I had been writing about for the previous few weeks, tips for identifying, managing and eradicating negative thoughts had been erased from my mind.
Reading the books, learning the actions, putting them into practice – they don’t fix you. They don’t stop the negative thoughts. All that we rehearse is often forgotten in that moment of fear and anxiety.
I saw this month’s resolution as a way of solving my problem with negativity. But there is no quick-fix.

Negativity isn’t just a thought or a feeling or a belief. When it comes with mental illness, negativity is often a way of life. I see the world through a negativity filter.

Having anxiety means I live with negative thoughts every single day. I feel negatively about myself and I fear that others always feel and think negatively towards me. 

My self-perception has been so low at times this month. I’ve spent evenings this month staring at myself in the mirror wishing I wasn’t me. I was consumed by the belief that I was fat – replaying comments over and over again in my head, critiquing photos. I begged to be thinner, but felt merely depressed at the thought of actually doing any exercise.
I had nightmare after nightmare, endlessly for a week as I struggled with the fear of making a mistake in work. Situations played over in my head and I would wake up exhausted and unsure if what I had just experienced was real or a dream.

I am my own harshest critic. Each error, real or imagined, is an apocalyptical disaster for me. At least, that is how it feels.

Dedicating a month to defeating negativity did not change this for me. But how often does one month change a person's entire way of thinking?
Perhaps the tools I've practiced won't always be effective. I need to find other ways to learn to live with my negative thoughts and feelings. And that's a challenge I'm committed to.

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