Even with my training and experience of helping others I recently had an experience that led to an emotional meltdown. Comfortingly it was a reminder that I am human. And I am not perfect. But I’ve spent the last few days examining (and over-thinking) my meltdown. I’ve felt the need to justify and excuse my rant. ‘I’m having a stressful week. I was feeling anxious and I was being treated unfairly.’ I am on the Autistic spectrum and I can become overwhelmed, resulting in meltdowns or shutdowns. But then I beat myself up for not coping, for embarrassing myself and this leads to more anxiety and constant replaying of the situation and wishing I could erase it. Damning myself as a poor therapist for not being the shining example of a perfect, got-it-all-together human being. But the truth is, the perfect human being is imperfect. The perfect therapist has experienced difficulties themselves. What is important is how we deal with these.
Firstly, beating yourself up with your thoughts really isn’t helpful. I don’t beat my friends up for their mistakes, so why do I beat myself up? Kindness to ourselves is one of the most important things we can do. Be kind in your thoughts, be kind by giving yourself quality time to relax and do the things that make you feel content. Be kind by giving yourself a healthy diet and the good meals you serve your guests. Accept your mistakes and meltdowns as you would a small child, with understanding and patience. You won’t learn and grow by beating yourself up, you will only add to your anxiety.
Our thoughts affect our bodies and when these are negative this can cause all sorts of problems. Watch what happens to your body when you are anxious. Try this for a moment.
Close your eyes and think about the biggest mistake you have done or the most embarrassing moment you have had. Live through that memory.
Notice what has happened to your body, perhaps your shoulders have hunched up, your stomach or glutes tightened, perhaps you feel a weight on your chest. Perhaps your breathing changed. All this happened from a memory! This demonstrates how our thoughts impact on our physical bodies, the two are connected. We are not separate entities. A healthy mind will benefit your body and vice versa.
So, what do we do? Your body can be the first indicator that your thoughts are running wild and you are beating yourself up. Sadly, we are so used to doing this that we rarely even notice. But if we watch and listen to our bodies this can be the first alarm that something isn’t right. Once every hour, take a minute to scan your body. Are you tense anywhere? If so, release it. If you are tense, try to pay attention to your thoughts and put the brakes on the negative commentary of yourself. You might be making mistakes or struggling with your workload or life, but this won’t get better by beating yourself up. Be kind. Take a moment out. This way you allow yourself thinking space and in turn this will open up brain space to find the solutions you need.
Remember, we are not robots. We are not perfect. And that is okay!