Temporarily out of order

IMG_20170704_112140My right arm is in a sling and to be considered out of order. I will share here my experiences of living with a physical limitation. It will be for a while, but nobody knows for how long exactly.

While during the first couple of days I was living through the aftermath of the accident as a new experience, I am now entering a phase where the situation I am in starts looking less compelling. I know the best and most constructive way to move on is to slow myself down and focus on doing everything that is beneficial to the healing of my body.

So, I mainly focus on slowing myself down by living my moments breath by breath. I realise while doing simple things like peeling a banana or scooping a spoonful of yoghurt from a bowl, that until now I’ve been doing these movements on an automatic pilot, barely aware of what I was actually doing, just focusing on the goal, the result.

Although it might sound strange, I am glad to have this opportunity happening to me, as it kind of forces me to slow down and be more conscious of the things I do in my everyday life. I’ve said to myself that we should not take everything for granted, but never actually lived that statement. Now, on a small and personal scale, I am living this statement. When I struggle to put on my t-shirt and when finally done I find out I’ve put it on backwards, I take a breath, check how my physical is doing and start the process of taking  my t-shirt off and on again with focus and consideration for my limitations, pushing myself to be creative in finding the best way to do what I am doing.

I might have allowed myself to get frustrated and with that I might have compromised the whole situation for myself. But I could not imagine myself pushing through movements that would jeopardise the healing process, nor I could see myself waiting half dressed, as a victim of the situation, until someone came home to help me.

By taking a simple breath and allowing myself to slow down in that very moment I allowed myself to consider all aspects of the situation and define the best way to proceed without compromises. This approach that is simple and also quite challenging from a mind perspective, will contribute to me healing swiftly and will leave no room for possible regrets on actions that in a moment of frustration might have influenced my healing.

In general, being in a condition where some activities are just not possible to perform, the biggest challenge is not to be tempted to do them anyway. The temptations might seem very legitimate. I decided to bake pancakes for lunch the day after the accident. I managed but I was exhausted and did movements I should have avoided. The reason I decided to do it was driven by a feeling of guilt towards my partner who is the primary person to compensate for the tasks I am not able to perform. But the reason my partner was already very busy and tired should never be a reason for me to jeopardise my own situation. The best way to approach these situations is to discuss together the limitations and the possibilities and so agree on the priorities. This prevents unwanted consequences and frustrations that might escalate and lead to more unwanted situations.

My goal for the next days is to take it day by day, checking my healing process and do whatever I can to contribute to my healing. I am in the luxury position I can focus on myself and by doing so I make sure I will be available to do my tasks and contribute normally again soon.

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It happened again!

dishwasher-clipart-free-clip-art-images-SsODq5-clipartIt happened again, and I am happy it did. Why? Well, since I’ve posted the The dishwasher challenge blog post I became aware of a lot of things related to the point of forgetting to close the lid of the dishwasher.

When yesterday morning my partner just informed me she just turned on the dishwasher I did not experience the same f**k moment as usual. True, the situation is slightly different as it was not me to find out that I did not close the lid. I actually was surprised by the neutrality of the tone my partner communicated this fact. As a normal household communication, no emotions attached.

My partner also could see what caused me not to finish this task as we had a small emergency where we found out the dog had peed on the floor just before I was to finish my routine.

Still to investigate is my reactions to this specific situation of not having closed the lid. I felt a quick but noticeable relief when my partner was apparently not upset when she found out and she concluded that she also did not check if the dishwasher was running before going to bed. So the questions I see here are:

Why do I feel a relief when I open the lid in the morning and I hear the reassuring click of the soap dispenser lid flipping open?

Feeling a relief implies I had a fear related to the act of opening the lid of the dishwasher. What kind of fear? Fear of being judged and being seen as incompetent, not fit for the simple task, not accountable, not to be taken seriously. A lot of self blame and self judgement going on here.

Why do I wait to close the dishwasher lid in the first place? Am I afraid I am forgetting to put in a last glass or cup?

Interesting point I am not really able to answer. Something deep inside cautious me to wait until I am very sure EVERYTHING that needs to be in the dishwasher is IN the dishwasher. But what is everything and what happens if something is left out because a family member forgot to bring it to the kitchen? NOTHING! The worst case might be I or someone else has to clean it by hand.

Why is the possibility I will forget to close the lid higher when I am distracted from my routine? Am I too much on an automatic pilot and not really ‘here’?

Another question that requires me to observe myself. Ever tried to observe yourself when you are semi awake and doing your routine on an automatic pilot? I wish you luck! So, if I start observing myself, implicitly making sure I am monitoring thus aware of what I am doing, I am solving this part of the problem. Voilá!

Why do I feel I need to come up with excuses when it happens? Am I ashamed I let it happen (again)? Do I want to hide the fact I might not have done all I could? Did I fail on taking my responsibility on this simple task?

Tricky one. It requires me to be really self-honest. And yes, I am ashamed of myself, at least that is what I am creating as an image in my mind. Ashamed because I failed. I, the caretaker and father figure of a family, the strong foundation of the whole system, I FAILED! “Don’t be so hard on yourself” I hear myself saying. But that is what happens in my mind. I am using this very thing to have an excuse to judge myself and to tell myself I am worth nothing as I am not even able to perform this very simple task in a constant and reliable way. What a mind f**k!

So, wrapping up, I am good in self-judgement and telling myself how bad I am where the whole issue can be solved by accepting this happens and taking my responsibilities by making sure I am always aware of what I am doing in every moment. Actually I am asking myself to be the best I can in any given moment. Sound as mission impossible? To me it kind of does, yes. But I know what I have to do. Find out why I see it as impossible to be the best in any given moment as this should be the norm, that what I   should be able to do all the time without any extra effort.

The truth is I am creating all kind of mental restrictions that limit my ability to live my full potential. Memories, experiences, thoughts, feeling and emotions, all are part of an intricate system that is compromising the real me and waits to be unravelled and debunked in a process of learning to know myself and my origins. This is my process to freedom.

The dishwasher challenge

dishwasher-clipart-dishwasher.jpgDamn! It happened again! It is a pattern that I have problems with breaking. Something apparently very simple… turn on the dishwasher before going to bed.

This morning I woke up because of our male cat making a lot of noise. He does this when he really wants to get outside. As it was almost time to get out anyway I decided to go downstairs and open the front door to leave him out. I then started the morning routine. It is in this routine of ranging all clean dishes, pots and pans that I am to find out if the dishwasher has been turned on or not.

Actually, when looking at it, I kind of have a brief moment of relief when I open the dishwasher and while doing so I hear the click of the soap dispenser cover clicking back in its open position. That sound is very reassuring and allows me to continue my routine with a just very tiny sigh of relief. Apparently I am kind of aware there is a possibility the dishwasher had not been running and I kind of anticipate the f**k moment when I grab the handle to open the dishwasher.

So, why does this happen, and why so often. On average once a week I do everything needed to have the dishwasher running except for one thing… close the lid until the click. Why do it wait? Why do I hesitate and not close it fully when I am done putting in all the things? What Am I waiting for?

Let me walk back to the situation of last evening to see if I can find out what is really going on. After dinner I started rinsing dishes and pans, filled the dishwasher and washed every other item that does not go in the dishwasher. The items I wash by hand like big pots and knives I leave drying on a dripping board. The routine was as any evening except for the fact there was a fresh loaf of bread that had to be cut in slices. As this is producing crumbs and a knife and cutting board to clean I knew I had to do this just before going to bed.

Bed time. I went to the kitchen collecting the last cups and items for the dishwasher, put them in the dishwasher, added the soap and turned it on. I did not fully close the lid and I started doing the cutting board and knife. This is the crucial point. For some reason I decided not to fully close the lid until it clicks causing the dishwasher to start. This is the very moment that I hesitate, almost unconsciously, to start the machine. Why? Because there might be another item I want to put in it before it starts running?

All the other episodes of me not closing the lid properly, meaning not doing the very last step to have the dishwasher start its program, are alike. There is a  slight change in the routine, something that causes the unconscious me to put this step on hold.

So, what to do about it? I have to become more aware of the steps I do in this routine, not on an automatic pilot, but aware of the actual situation. And I have to face the deeper layers to find out why I am hesitating in taking that last step. Looking at it in common sense tells me that there is no reason for not doing that last step. If I consciously had checked the situation I could have seen there were no items left to put in the dishwasher. But, especially when doing things in a routine, there is no reality check. I am doing my things on an automatic pilot. Why? Is it because I kind of consider the tasks as being boring or a nuisance?  Of course I will immediately deny that it is, but if I look at this self-honestly I see that there is a history here of not enjoying the fact I have to do some tasks in the evening, just before going to bed when I usually are more than ready to go to sleep.

So, something futile like the fact of not closing the lid of a dishwasher is actually an opportunity to investigate underlying patterns that eventually lead to better know myself and allow myself to break these patterns and better myself, to create a better version of myself. The process is not simple and requires me to be thorough and especially honest with myself. How futile or seemingly unimportant the point I am investigating might be, the first reaction is to come up with excuses and explanations on why this happens. I’ve done this regularly, for months, to myself and to my partner. Why? Because I feel bad when it happens. It causes me to express a loud F**K charged with frustration when I find out that AGAIN I FAILED. I self-judge myself as being whatever and immediately start to come up with reasons and excuses to explain myself why it happened again in an attempt to tell myself I am not a failure. In other words, I am attempting to compensate for the failure feeling by repairing it and thus causing a polarity.

The only way to solve this pattern effectively is to stop the reason why this pattern exists. This requires me to dig into deeper layers of myself to find out why I act in a specific way. What is the trigger and what is the memory connected to it. Not an easy task. To enable myself to effectively work through the steps that will eventually lead to breaking this pattern and many other related patterns, I use the tools and the buddy support of my DIP course.

In the following posts I will start digging and share how I am walking this process.

Moment of sadness

d5932-20170113This evening while standing in the kitchen and cooking my meal I felt sadness after I was confronted with a sink full of pots and pans while cooking my meal.

For a while now we cook different meals during the weekend in our family as we follow the blood type diet. My partner and kids have the same blood type, I have a different one and therefore follow a partially different diet. Cooking two dinners is quite challenging in one kitchen that is the size of an average European house kitchen. We often decide to wait for one other and sometimes we manage to eat dinner at the same time.

Tonight that was not the case. The sadness I experiences was preceded by frustration on small things. The first trigger for frustration was when I found that my partner hadn’t been able to read my handwriting on the grocery list and bought one piece where she was supposed to buy two. After deciding it was not a big deal I asked my partner to let me know when I could start cutting my vegetables and sat down to go through some YouTube videos.

A while later my partner said that she almost forgot to warn me being focussed on preparing her meal, but that I could start cutting my stuff. The “Mmmm” reaction I felt for a second was quickly suppressed and I started my cooking.

While cutting I realized that even if I would have wanted to put a pan on the stove there was no space available in that moment. I decided to go on cutting carrots, peeling and cutting onions and garlic.

A short while later I was able to put a pan on the stove and went for the fridge to get my sausages. On the grocery list I wrote 8 sausages, did I? I hoped so. The hope did not last long… Only two sausages to be found. I asked my partner who was sure to have read 2 and not 8. As I was not fully sure myself I retrieved the list from the trash bin and checked. I could read 8 but my daughter agreed with my partner that it was a weird 8 and that it could be read as 2. Difficult to argue on points as readability, will need to find a way to have ourselves check the list before one of us goes shopping. As I was making a dinner for 4 and only needed a portion for tonight the problem can be solved by adding the sausages later to the other portions.

The event however added to my trigger points for frustration and consequent sadness. The next step in my cooking was to rinse the beans in the sink. And there was the culminating trigger point. A sink full of pots and pans that I had to set aside before being able to continue. I now pointed out the situation to my partner explaining that is it not cool to have to clean up or move away stuff produced by another when cooking a meal. I also explained that I, when being the first to cook, always clean up as much as possible so my partner can do her things normally.

Interestingly this collection of experiences triggered a general sadness mood as I realized it were mostly experiences that could be grouped into a category of giving what you would like to receive and finding that, when I do so I silently hope to get back that exact same thing, up to a kind of longing for it in some cases. To be more specific, I would like to get some collaboration in the kitchen when it comes to cleaning up things during or immediately after cooking to make space for the next.

Looking back at these experiences after a while I can see clearly I am in a blame mode and I need to take this back to (my) self. Although my points are more than valid, there is no reason to go into a feeling of sadness as that is a self-pity situation that is aiming at making me the victim of these situations. Energy wise it might even feel kind of good to feel sorry for yourself, go into a sad mood and blame others for the fact you are pushed into such a mood.

The reality however is that I was allowing myself to get into that sad mood as I was allowing myself to become victim of the situation. So, if facing such situations in the future, I will discuss the situation in that specific moment or at any given moment the other party is able to give me some attention.

What I did was taking care of understanding how I got into this situation of blame and sadness and I also took a moment to discuss the situation with my partner, AFTER I made sure all energy and emotions were taken care of from my side. As a result my partner and I are coordinating our kitchen space needs even better and we also make sure to check the grocery list on readability. Just very practical and commonsensical.

What I learned from this is that if things are not going smoothly and as expected and as a reaction we feel sad and victimized, these feelings tell me something about myself that I need to take care of. Separate from that I can take care of the practical point by exposing the situation on a practical level to any involved and agree on solutions both parties benefit from.

Embarrassed

o-oops-sign-facebookAlthough it might be a coincidence, this morning I had an experience that could connect to the fact it is Blue Monday. As on every regular working day I went to catch a specific train, the 7:39 Intercity to Rotterdam. Due to work on the railway line less trains are running every hour and this Monday I could clearly see the consequences. The platform was crammed with people that usually distribute themselves over three different trains. I was kind of lucky I could still fit in the overcrowded train and had to stand in the pathway without having anywhere to hold myself except the ceiling.

While standing there I was wondering where an annoying beep was coming from. I was looking around and noticed more people were wondering what was producing the noise. As several other people I had my phone in my hand to report I had no seat in this train ride using the railway’s app. The beeping stopped but soon started again and slowly it came to me I could have been the source of the sound…

I started to feel uneasy while frantically looking for an app on my phone that is able to connect to a small device on my key ring. Exactly! The source of the beeping was a tiny Bluetooth device that I can use to track my keys. For some odd reason it had decided to beep as if it was prompted to do so by my phone. I managed to connect and make sure it stopped beeping. A few beeps later it kept quiet but I was still quite embarrassed. I decided to get out a stop earlier and walk 20 minutes to my destination to get over my embarrassment.

But why did I feel so embarrassed? Why heart was beating fast and I almost got lightheaded. Looking back I see it has been a situation where I allowed my mind to play a game with me boosted by the fact I was still recovering from being sick and not yet feeling completely fit. Not feeling well can be extra challenging when having to stay self aware and breath myself through a spinning series of thoughts in order to stop these and focus on the real actions to take in order to solve the problem.

Interesting to see that such a small situation as a device that beeps can lead to quite some stress in a situation where other factors play a role: A overcrowded train, standing uncomfortably without having good support, a stomach that was still not fully cooperating and this beeping device! I was surprised and kind of overwhelmed by the experience. It was a good example of how my mind was able to create an instant moment of anxiety expressed as embarrassment and cause a strong physical reaction. This made it even harder to properly react to the situation and take it just breath by breath, focusing on resolving the cause of the problem in the best way possible.

I’ve also learned that my first reaction in this and probably any other situation is to blame something outside of me, anything else but myself. And that was also part of the embarrassment. I found out that if there was someone to blame for the beeping sound… it was me! So, stop the blame altogether, I had to face my own blame, and that is not nice. And there was no need for blame of any kind. The next time I will try to be more aware of what is happening in that specific moment and first check myself to make sure I am not the cause.

A Beagle?

beagle-dog-breed-dbe
Today I got a message from my daughter about Beagles looking for a home, dogs that have been used for animal testing and now live in an animal shelter. My reply was: “Is there something I need to read in-between the lines?”.

It is not the first time my daughter brings up the discussion about wanting to have a pet dog added to our household consisting of four humans, 2 cats and eventually a dog. Although I personally do not dislike the idea of a dog, I want my daughter and the rest of the family to consider all aspects of what it means to take care of a dog.

For now the most evident factor against having a dog is a financial aspect. Although, that is from my perspective. If we have to sustain the costs of a dog we will have to cut on other expenses. Next to that we have practical points to take care of like who is going to walk the dog several times a day, how will it work out with the cats, who is going to take care of the dog when we go on holidays, etc.

Funny is the battle that goes on in myself. On one side I like the idea of having a dog and if, on top of that, we can give this being a better life, why not do it. I must admit that the financial part scares me most. As we still have some challenges sometimes to get at the end of the month because every month it seems we have some extra’s to cover, I am not very keen in choosing for an action that will involve some initial costs and systematic extra monthly costs with a very slim but still extra chance that we might run in extra veterinary bills if we consider worst case scenario’s.

So, how to face this situation and keep everybody happy? Since it is a father’s duty to keep family members happy, isn’t it? I’ve already agreed my daughter will look at the real costs of having a dog. The fear or pressure she feels now is that the dogs are available now and nobody knows when a similar situation with the almost ideal dog race will repeat itself.

Important here is not to allow ourselves to be distracted by opinions, emotions and fears. We have to consider all points carefully and sum up all pros and cons to make a final decision at this moment in time. This will be a process all members of our family will have to walk for themselves.

For me the main point is the financial point that, seen purely from a practical aspect, will impact our immediate cash availability for this and maybe next month, and a little extra to consider on a monthly basis. To decide here is if we want and can postpone or change immediate expenses. The easiest way to save money is to spend less on food but that will force us to buy cheaper and unhealthier food.

All the other points are also relevant but a lot easier to consider although they might have a considerable impact, like walking the dog, feeding and cleaning. I also wonder how wise it is to add a dog to the family with two cats of a certain age? Will they go along or will there be constant stress for the cats?

We can do a lot of research on what other people have experienced in similar situations but nevertheless we will only know exactly by walking it. So, if it is really something we all want to give a try we will have to discuss the matter as a family and go through all the points to come to a self-honest decision that is based on what is best for all.

As part of the DIP course I will go through my personal points related to this matter and use self forgiveness to analyse and debunk the layers behind each of these points.

I forgive myself that I accept and allow myself to fear any matter that potentially leads to unwanted and uncontrolled costs.

I forgive myself that I accept and allow myself to consider expenses that are not initiated by basic needs or already established patterns as unwanted and as a threat to stability.

I forgive myself that I accept and allow myself to swing between wanting to be able to say yes to any kind of expenses and holding tight to not spending an extra penny on anything more than absolutely necessary.

I forgive myself that I accept and allow myself to fear uncontrolled expenses just because I label it as uncontrolled where I can take action to make sure there is no thing as uncontrolled expenses and enough buffer to handle unforeseen costs.

I forgive myself that I accept and allow myself to feel being a bad parent when I can not unconditionally approve the desire of my daughter just because it seems the best option to make her happy.

I forgive myself that I accept and allow myself the feeling that I need to make my daughter happy is more important than looking at the idea/proposal/wish in all its aspects and come to a joint decision we reached all together.