It is suddenly Sunday evening and I’ve spent the last few hours finishing my homework, slightly nauseous from wearing glasses for the first time in my life. Unlike Titania’s, my first week has been far from smooth. For various reasons I haven’t had the time or focus to keep up with my habits very well. I’ll try my best to get properly started with the project next week. However, the obstructive events of this week really made me see how important some areas of this project will be for me, especially the next two months, when I will focus on Confidence and Love. Swindling on the edge of disaster a few days ago, I truly realised how much my boyfriend and our relationship means to me, and how great an effort I am willing to make to improve it. I have also come up with a strategy that I think will be especially useful during these next two months.
When I was 17 years old, I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. I had cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for some time, until my therapist finally decided it didn’t help enough and prescribed antidepressants instead, which I never took (which I am tremendously thankful for today). I graduated from high school shortly afterwards, and since my biggest problem was related to classrooms, I managed to break the worst of my vicious circles on my own. The last few years I have developed a lot as a person, and I’m not even sure my social problems would count as a disorder anymore. Although I’m still scared of social situations I don’t run away from most of them anymore.
But this doesn’t mean I’m done working with my behaviour and myself. Two nights ago, I think I had the worst row of my life, and it was to a large extent caused by my insecurity. It came down to an ultimatum. Or well, I managed to play down his “leave and never come back” and promised to pull myself together, to quit being scared and insecure, to quit over-analysing things, and to let him be himself. Easy to say, hard to do, but for his, ours, and perhaps especially my own sake, I really must do this. Yesterday, I took a long walk with my mother and figured out a strategy to help me focus and remember what I need to do to work this out.
I believe the most difficult aspect of personal development in general is remembering all the things you need to remember to be able to change. When behaviours don’t come naturally you have to start doing them consciously, and when there is a heap of different behaviours you need to learn, it gets complicated. Take a conversation with a person you’re not totally comfortable with yet, for example. To have a normal conversation I would need to keep telling myself to keep eye contact, ask follow-up questions, say more than yes or no, stop picking at my nails instead of listening, and so on…
In the case of my relationship there are a lot of things I need to remember in order to change my behaviour for the better. To make things simpler, I have identified five things that affect my relationship badly, and that I really need to work with: fear, anxiety, jealousy, sulkiness and insecurity. When I’m scared I avoid things, like being myself at a party or telling my boyfriend what the matter is. When I’m anxious I try to keep control of everything (read: him). When I’m jealous I get sulky and feel anxious and insecure, when I’m sulky I ruin the mood, and when I’m insecure, being myself becomes even harder. It’s a vicious circle of destructive feelings that lead to no good at all. The good thing about these five feelings is that they are all quite easily recognisable. So what I need to do, to prevent these feelings from choking our relationship, is recognise them, pause, breathe and then deal with them.
If I can learn to follow this strategy, I think I will be able to deal with a large amount of different difficult situations by just remembering these four feelings and the right ways to deal with them. And which the right ways could be, I will figure out and write about in another post, because now it’s time to step away from the computer and do my back exercises. And tomorrow I’ll go running. The times they are a-changing, but I’m honestly happy, even in the middle of this chaos.