As I write this, I must admit that for a variety of reasons October and November are difficult months for me. It’s the same each year as I find that everything drops like a stone, my energy levels, confidence and motivation. These are the months when I’m most likely to feel like sh*t and can barely be arsed. Though to be fair this usually disappears once Christmas has passed and normally I am content to wait it out. But this year I am going to try something different, just to see what happens. Instead of hunkering down in survival mode, I am making the decision to thrive, despite how I feel.
So, this month’s post is all about what it means to thrive and I’m going to use this simple statement:
I am choosing to thrive, despite how I feel.
Which I suppose is all very well and good, but how far will that get me if I wake up each morning still feeling like sh*t? Well, perhaps thriving doesn’t have to feel great every day, and maybe that’s the point. My feelings are not necessarily telling me the whole story.
So, what does it mean to thrive rather than just survive? A quick Google search threw up the following:
To survive as a verb is defined in the Oxford dictionary as, ‘to continue to live or exist, especially in spite of danger or hardship.’ This immediately conjures up for me an image of someone trudging, head down through a vat of treacle. With little energy or inclination to lift their head, look around and seek out new opportunities. Everything is focused on getting through on a day by day, step by step basis.
On the other hand, thrive as a verb is defined as, ‘to grow or develop well or vigorously (generally used for humans, animals or plants). To prosper or flourish.’ Painting a completely different picture for me, one with light and movement. And there’s quite a bit of blue in there too.
But if the fact remains, that I still don’t feel like I am thriving, perhaps I need to look more closely at those feelings and where they are coming from. And to do this I probably need to get my head around my emotions too.
So, to remind myself it was back to Google:
‘Essentially emotions are physical and instinctive. They have been programmed into our genes over many, many years of evolution and are hard-wired. Feelings, on the other hand play out in our heads. They are mental associations and reactions to an emotion that are personal and acquired through experience. ‘
Feelings are mental experiences of body states which arise as the brain interprets emotions, themselves physical states arising from the body’s responses to external stimuli. (The order of such events is: I am threatened, experience fear, and feel horror.)
Antonio D’Amasio quoted on the site: https://www.thebestbrainpossible.com/whats-the-difference-between-feelings-and-emotions/
Hence, our Feelings are in our minds and our emotions in our bodies, which might seem counterintuitive, always has done to me. But I know this to be the theoretical basis for CBT, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which is described as being:
‘… a type of talking treatment which focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems.’
So, this month’s post is more of a pep talk to me. A reminder that my feelings are not in sole charge, they are not necessarily the final arbiter of what I choose to do.
- Motivation — I’ll do the work when I feel more motivated. Will you though?
- Confidence — I don’t feel confident enough to go for that promotion. When then?
- Thriving — I feel like ‘sh*t, how can I talk about thriving? Why not?
- Happiness — I’ll only feel happy when I’ve achieved, XYZ. Is this true, really?
Do any of the above seem familiar to you? Perhaps I’m being a little tough, so here is how I think it might be possible to move forward with the statement:
I am choosing to thrive, despite how I feel.
Be prepared to stay as open and curious about the possibilities and opportunities as you can. If this is your starting point, what needs to happen next? Face up to what is happening, without beating yourself up. I may not feel great, but there will be steps big or small that I can take now.
As far as possible, assemble around you your ‘A’ team, dream team, call them what you will. The people who can and are willing to help. No one that I can see is thriving in isolation. This is precisely what I will be doing, going forward into 2019. Making contact with the six or so people I believe can help me move forward both personally and professionally. Interestingly, I’ve only met three of them in person. The others I have been following for a while on different social media platforms.
Check in with yourself, do you need professional support? Do you need to be talking to a counsellor or therapist? I’ll be keeping a close eye on myself to make sure I don’t miss the obvious.
Remember this is the life you have now. Thriving isn’t about having a perfect life, it’s about using what you have now to the best of your ability. It’s about being grateful for the things you do have. Perhaps it’s also about accepting and moving on from those things that you cannot change and letting go of the things that no longer serve you.
Be mindful, not judgemental of the language you are using with yourself. I will need to be aware of my own language, curious even, but I don’t need to beat myself about the head with it.
Think that’s enough to be going on with.
Until next time
Word count 986
Originally published at careerresilience.wordpress.com on December 7, 2018.