Tag Archives: guilt

Bell Let’s Talk: How Therapy Helped Me

A few months ago, I published a blog post about my anxiety and the signs that it was time to reach out for help. I knew that by speaking with a therapist, someone outside of my immediate circle, I wouldn’t feel like I was dumping or oversharing. In addition, I thought that a professional might be better able to suggest solutions to problems that seemed to come back again and again.

Little did I know how much better I would feel one year later:

I always knew I was a sensitive guy, but I didn’t quite understand to what extent. I learned to strike a happy medium in allowing myself to be the sensitive guy that I am without feeling that I was out of sync with everyone else.

As much as my triggers for anxiety seemed random and unrelated, they really do stem from a few specific events in the distant past. With the help of my therapist, I am working through those and trying to curb the anxiety response.

A pattern of lack of assertiveness emerged. Now that I know, I have been gently nudging myself into being more assertive in specific circumstances.

I learned that saying no (politely, firmly and without getting emotional) was a valid response that should not be feared when I really want to say no.

I learned that setting boundaries and calmly enforcing boundaries that were not respected, are an essential part of living and survival.

Even in the last few weeks, I find myself proactively drawing lines in the sand because once the boundaries are articulated, out in the open and agreed upon, life is a lot easier when uncertainty is removed from the equation.

There have been circumstances that in being a people-pleaser, I have been more considerate of others than I was of myself, and then paid the price later in feeling short-changed.

I also learned that as much as I like to think of myself as a good communicator, my reflex for tact and diplomacy to spare others’ feelings can sometimes obscure the clarity in the messaging when setting boundaries. I am working on that too.

The irony is that I really don’t care what people think about me. They can judge and criticize and it bounces off me like I’m Teflon coated. But for some strange reason, I still feel responsible for the happiness of others.

I recognized a pattern of self-inflicted guilt trips after asserting myself even when I was justified in stating my position.

I learned that worry, racing thoughts and rumination are a call to action. Letting things fester contributed to the escalation of my anxiety responses.

It’s a little late, but better late than never: I learned exactly why some work assignments over the span of my career were ideally suited for me, and why some others were not. In a nutshell, a proactive guy in a highly reactive job is not a good fit.

I learned that my decision-making process is dependent on a harmonious connection between mind, body and spirit. Even if intellectually, I believe something is right, if it doesn’t feel right in my gut, I either need to give it time to sink in or re-evaluate the decision. Otherwise, I will likely be stressing about the decision long after it was taken.

I was able to connect the dots (metaphorically speaking) between the events that pushed me to the limit, stressed me to the max, and my body fought back when presenting me with a bad case of shingles in 2014. Clearly I didn’t deal well with my stress.

With the help of the therapist, I revisited past scenarios that triggered anxiety responses and developed ideas for what I would have done differently to deal with those situations better.

I also learned that despite having the best tool kit for dealing with boundary issues, assertiveness issues, stress and anxiety, situations don’t always get resolved as neatly as we would like them to. Sometimes, I just need to let go and move on rather than channeling huge amounts of energy into something that might not be meant to be.

In doing so, I find myself gradually returning to the calm, cool and collected dude I always was deep inside, but that got lost in the shuffle of unfortunate circumstances, people who were toxic in my world and the hunt for the right tools to deal with them.

With less time spent ruminating or stewing over issues, I am finding more head space for more fun, more creativity, and the opportunity to be more present and in the moment.

As I find my natural positive energy returning, therapy helped me get in touch with the authentic me again.

 

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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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Filed under Health and Wellness, mental health

How Doing Nothing Takes Work and Discipline

Not too long ago, I booked off a day in the middle of the week, with my mind racing as to all the things I could get accomplished and how much I could get ahead in my to-do list.

Weekends can get pretty busy between social engagements and with the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping, the laundry and trying to find a few minutes to recharge for the week ahead.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change a thing about my routine. It’s just that after a busy work week with all of its trappings and weekends that are bustling with activity, the prospect of a day off in the middle of the week is an offer with limitless possibilities.

But the question is: do I really NEED to do anything?

As much as I can be an extrovert who likes to be around people, if my environment delivers a steady stream of stimulating activities (even fun ones), I know that I need a break to balance things out to not get overwhelmed.

It is probably no accident that my hobbies have leaned toward quieter, more introspective moments, like writing, reading, nature photography, painting and running. The trick is to ensure I spend enough time on those recharging activities, to build up the energy reserves for the more extroverted side of me to come through in busier times.

But I think part of the problem is that I have been programmed for productivity. Having been brought up in a climate of “make hay while the sun shines”, “the early bird catches the worm” and “idle hands are the devil’s tools”, sitting still does not come naturally. As I hinted in my blog post “Being Bored Was Not an Option”, when I was young, if I ever thought to myself that I was bored, somehow, magically, my dad would show up with a broom or a rake in hand and a list of chores. That being the case, I never allowed myself to get bored. Continue reading

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Filed under Humour, Inspiring, Misc blogs

Am I a Hoarder If I Still Have a Trophy From 1979?

TrophiesAs I mentally prepare for this year’s round of spring cleaning, I already dread opening that same box I open every year: the box of trophies and awards. Every year I am stumped with the same questions: keep them, toss them, donate them or repurpose them?

… And then they go back into the box as I defer the decision to the next year, and the next one, and the next one.

What makes the decision so difficult is that behind every trophy is a great deal of hard work, dedication, discipline, and blood, sweat and tears on my part. Of course the latter are just metaphorically speaking; Grade 8 in suburbia was far from “The Hunger Games”.

At the same time, behind every trophy is a judge or a panel of judges, who took time out of their busy schedules to consider my work and to so generously bestow this symbol of recognition.

To me, the trophy represents an act of extreme kindness and generosity, which still humbles me today, still elicits a great deal of gratitude and frankly, “guilts” me into hanging on to this symbol.

And then I consider the possibility that there may be a colleague who worked harder than I did, yet did not receive recognition for their accomplishment. They could possibly be thinking that I am an ungrateful brat for even considering tossing a trophy I received …37 years ago.

But the big question is this: at the time of the recognition, did the judge or panel of judges truly expect me to hang on to the trophy until I am pushing daisies? Continue reading

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Filed under Humour, Misc blogs, Running

The Guilt Of Not Running

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESShortly after the major milestone of running my first half-marathon last fall, I have to admit I really enjoyed the month that followed. With training on the back burner, I fully enjoyed the free time I reclaimed: more time for writing, more time for staying on top of errands and housekeeping, and of course eating anything and everything as my metabolism was still cranked up high and quickly burning up anything I consumed.

Then the post-run party is over, replaced by holiday parties and more “fun food”!

Then when the holidays are over… Winter! Ugh!

When it comes to winter I am not a sports enthusiast:

– Despite many lessons in my pre-teens, I skate about as gracefully as Bambi on ice. Sorry, Rideau Canal.

– When I was a kid, my dad was in the ski patrol. We were out on the slopes at the crack of dawn every Sunday. You could say that before age 12, I did enough skiing to last me a lifetime and it would be true, especially given that I was not a fan of the cold and snowy part.

– Contrary to popular belief, Canadian kids are not born with hockey sticks in their hands. Besides, I was always picked last for team sports like that, so I sublimate that lifetime of trauma, by attending as many cheery musical theatre performances and uplifting operas as I can afford.

– I tried curling, I understand the game and really enjoy the wardrobe options (Google: “Norwegian curling pants” and click on the “images” tab) but I prefer my exercise in short spurts.

So what about my first love in sports, running?

In theory, if properly dressed for it, running can be performed in almost any kind of weather. I say in theory because I know my limit is around -20 degrees Celsius. Below that, my lungs are not happy in the days that follow, but that’s just me. The fact is that I have enjoyed running on sunny and bright but less “crisp” wintery days. Continue reading

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Filed under Humour, Running