Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Am I thinking too much??

These are some pics from our last day in Ireland. we take the ferry from Dun Laoghaire near Dublin across to Holyhead in Wales and always stop for a walk around to stretch the dogs' legs before getting on the ferry. It's lovely there, always plenty of birds to watch and dogs love jumping exploring the rocks and getting fooled by the seaweed (they think it's solid ground so end up falling into the drink!).

Minty looks very purposeful here.

Cormorants dry their wings on the rocks in front of the sea shore.

Dun Laoghaire is a prosperous and handsome satellite town to Dublin, used to be called Kingstown in the Victorian era but the name was changed back on independence in 1920 for obvious reasons!! A lot of the architecture though is quite British in feel, a mix of Georgian and Victorian.
He's quite a salty old seadog after all his years on the rigs!

There's a nice lighthouse and marina and a lovely harbour walk/run.

We like it too Mum..

A large but somewhat unco-operative heron, (it flew just as I got within range). Gorgeous colouring on those wings though and a very efficient fisherman, we saw him catch several minnows (or something) from the rock pools.

I did manage to catch up with him (or her) later but didn't get the focus quite right.

These guys were perfectly camouflaged against the seaweed but obligingly stepped out onto the rock for a brief moment so I could snap them.

These were taken on the other side in Wales when we stopped in Anglesey to let the girls out. Luckily there was a fence here or I doubt we would have seen the dogs again....there were hundreds of bunnies in this field!

I was over in Manchester yesterday evening for another session filming for the TV programme. It was very illuminating. We started with a general chat with the 4 of us and the Psych guy catching up with how we're all getting on and discussing some of the issues which have been thrown up by the programme thus far. The Psych guy is, as you might expect, very concerned to be sure that we're making progress on the mental side of our work. While the weight and fitness elements are important and easily verifiable, the mental side is less clear cut but he thinks it is the most important.

I tend to agree. After all, we've all lost weight and got fit before but the trick is learning how to stay slim and fit - well, duh!

So, this was a good time to revisit our goals, go over how we plan to achieve them and work through any problems we are encountering on the way. I should just say that the goals are not necessarily weight and fitness related. The idea being that, if we sort out a personal issue which is bothering us, it will remove a source of stress from our lives and inevitably help us stay on top of the weight and fitness stuff. If you're stressed out, your chimp will become anxious and offer you choices of how to react. Her palate of choices tends towards the anxiety, panic, anger, depression, eat, freeze, flight end of the spectrum rather than the tackle the underlying issue, talk it out, be rational, do the work end!!

So, what were my personal development goals? And, more importantly, now that I've been following this programe for few weeks, are they still the things I want to address? Are they really my big issues??

1. Stop procrastinating/get organised

Apparently this is a common problem, particular for women and it stems from our female chimps' in-built insecurity. She is worried that she won't be able to do the task so she offers you options of freezing (essentially doing nothing) or flight (hiding from the task). She also, cleverly, pretends that she is not doing this by conning you into doing other, more palatable tasks. How many times have you been meaning to sit down to your tax return/big report/exam revision/paperwork etc etc and found yourself instead loading the dishwasher or hoovering the living room? Or, at work, doing a task which is not nearly as urgent or important as the one you are avoiding but is a lot nicer to tackle?? It's not you - it's your chimp!!

So, yes, I do still want to tackle this one. Procrastination leads to disorganisation, stress and guilt, none of which are nice things and all of which contribute to weight gain and infrequent exercise.

How am I to do this?
Well, firstly acknowedge it for what it is. That helps straight off. It is not me being the coward and hiding from the job but my chimp who can hardly be expected to be an expert property solicitor after all. This removes one source of stress immediately, ie. guilt and shame. Also, make it your goal to break the habit of procrastination so that you have chosen to work on this and know what you aiming at.

Secondly, initiate and practise anti-avoidance techniques (you'll have heard of loads of these): just jump in ("if you have to eat a frog, don't play with it first!"); break it down into mini tasks and tackle these individually rather than having to do the whole lot; set yourself a limited period of time (say 10 minutes) which your chimp can stand and stick to that period until your chimp no longer fears the task and can tolerate more; set your chimp a challenge, say doing as much of the task you're avoiding as possibly in 20 minutes; set yourself a hard deadline by telling someone important that you're going to deliver something by a specific time (a high-risk option!). There are others.

Thirdly, make tackling tasks "normal" for you. Tell yourself that you are the sort of person who just dives in and does stuff. Don't over-congratulate yourself for doing this task or it reinforces the notion that you have done something extraordinary. This way you are reassuring your chimp that this behaviour is not difficult or scary, it's just what we do!
It occurs to me as I set this out that it all sounds very standard CBT/Beck stuff. But, for me at least, it has more resonance because I understand what is going on in my head now rather than just applying the techniques because the book says so. I've got some answer now.

2. Stop seeking approval from others for your happiness/self-worth.

This one is a bit more complicated now that I dig down. I think I need more input from the Psych guy on this one. We have spoken about approval/validation/compliments and how important they are. Apparently all chimps, being social creatures, want peer approval and compliments are very important to us as humans. It is, therefore, unfeasible to stop needing this. It's a basic part of us and we shouldn't deny ourselves, if only because it won't work. I think the trick is to work out what type of approval we need and go to the right places for it. It is a really complicated topic though, tied up as it is with self-esteem; the potential for miscommunication; and the fact that the need for approval can result in a reluctance to ask for help.

I definitely think it is something I want to work on but my ideas are too muddled to commit to writing just yet. This has been a useful exercise already then as I have identified something I need to work on and an area I need more input on from the Psych guy.

One question is why I think it is a problem for me? I know most people would put me down as pretty confident (I dont mean "put me down" as in good with words, very...) and not lacking in self-esteem but I must feel it to be an issue or I wouldn't have chosen that as a goal at the outset.

Right, I'll come back to this one.

To be honest, I'm going to have to come back to everything as I'm tired out now and have still to get on the bike even though I suspect it will be a short blast this evening. Night night and thanks for listening to the navel gazing.


Ameythist said...

Fabulous post as always Lesley, I am enthralled with your updates. You still have not said when it is being aired?

Luv Amxx

Peridot said...

You and your chimp - I have this image of you like Nicole Kidman in The Golden Compass film with her evil orangutan!

Peridot x

Dee said...

I agree with Peridot. I picture you as Nicole Kidman and the evil orangutan as your chimp. Funny. Keep up the good work. You are so encouraging to me. I appreciate it very much.