1 May 2019

WHO ARE YOU?



I wanted to use todays post to share an exercise with you that I had to do this week which, when I first heard it, I admit thinking it was a load of crap, but then as I got more into it I suddenly had great clarity and perspective on things.

I am referring to an exercise that I did  this week whilst at a mental health appointment, which involved exploring three different parts of your emotional self, in order to see clearly what you are like in each of those stages; there is a lot more to it than this, but I wanted to get you to think about the same thing and unpack a bit more as we go. Grab a sheet of paper and a pen and let's start with the questions...

The first thing I want you to consider is the following:

'What do you look like when your are having a good day?'

This is the easier one to consider I think; for me it is super smiley, laughing and quick-witted (in my opinion if no one elses!). I like to have loud music on and sing and bop around the house. I am always inspired and creative when I am happy and have this lust for life which I can't really pin down at any point; I could stay awake writing late into the night because ideas come flooding in, I am sociable and feel more comfortable in my own skin. I definitely have more confidence and don't let things get on top of me as easily. My goals and dreams are clear and my path is unobstructed by anything.

What about you? Jot down how you look when you are having your good days. Write down anything that comes to mind because it is all relevant (plus no one but you will be seeing it!).

Onto the second question:

'What are you like when you are experiencing really bad days (or if you suffer with mental health, what are the bad days like for you)?'

As much as this may seem like a depressing or negative thing to get you to list, just try and dig deep into yourself and identify all the things that make up a really bad day; you know the ones, where you just want to shove your head under the duvet and stay there? Yep, we all have them. If you are a fellow mental health sufferer, these days could be any range of emotions; addictive behaviours could become dominant, you may have urges to harm yourself or worse. List everything. You don't have to have a mental health issue to do this, whatever your bad day looks like for you is totally valid in context to your life.

Done that? Let's move on...

'What do you look like before a bad day comes along?'

For some people this will be a build up over several days, for others not so much. As an example, when I am cruising towards a bit of a 'meh' time, I can become a bit withdrawn, very, very tired and drained emotionally, I will continue to push and push and push because I feel like I am not doing enough (even though my body is telling me otherwise). I will crave sugar as a quick fix. I can be a bit snappy and irritable (usually because I am getting frustrated with myself for not being able to do the things I usually can). I lose focus and creativity dips.

They are a few of my alarm bells... list yours (be honest about them and what may trigger you to cycle downhill too).

Before we move onto the last bit, have a think about your answers to the three things above and consider where you spend most of your time? This was interesting for me. There may be a blurry edge to that of course. You may be mostly in 'on your way to a bad day' with a sprinkle of good, but it may be interesting to realise that you are more in the bad than the good.

Once you realise that you can start to lift yourself out, and that is where the good stuff happens. Without spending a little bit of time on exercises like this one, you can be a bit lost in your own mood. What will seem totally normal to you could be someones really bad day. So take a good hard look at yourself and consider where you're at!

Lastly, have a think about these three points:

 1. What can you do to help lift your spirits when you are starting to feel less upbeat? 

List some things that will make you feel better! Examples could be: take a bath, watch a funny movie, put on a favourite song, have a nap, go for a walk, phone a friend etc.

2. What do you need from those close to you in order to help you get back on track?

This can be harder than it looks to answer and everyone is different so there is no 'right' answer here!

3. What have you found unhelpful in the past?

This could be something you have tried and realised it only makes matters worse, but also consider some of the things that others do to help you that you find have the opposite affect. 

It is interesting to consider all these things and then have a deeper understanding of who you are, what makes you tick and what doesn't! After I completed this exercise (I have more to do in three weeks...yikes!) I found myself mentally categorising things that are in my life and seeing where they sit in terms of the three areas too. So maybe this is an additional thing you can explore: What activities do you do on a regular basis and how do they make you feel? What people do you spend time with? Do they give you energy or take it away from you? How does your work make you feel, etc etc.

What we are doing here is a kind of mind mapping everything out and by doing so, no matter how messy and no matter how you do it, you can get a clear visual on it all. For me, this is a really useful tool to see where I spend most of my head-space.

I hope you found this useful! I highly recommend giving it a shot; just make sure you are 100% honest with yourself throughout the whole thing. Give yourself some quiet time to do it and then some time to journal or reflect on whatever comes up. This exercise can act as an amazingly helpful prompt to open up to some of the deep-rooted things we have shelved in our heads.

Let me know what you think!
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1 comment

  1. First off I want to say superb blog! I had
    a quick question that I'd like to ask if you don't mind.
    I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your
    mind prior to writing. I have had difficulty clearing my mind in getting my ideas out there.
    I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the
    first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips?
    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete

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