‘Adulting’ is the word on the street – time to take responsibility
There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you – J K Rowling
Moan, moan, moan, whinge, whine and finally blame! We’ve all been there right? And if you are struggling to see that in yourself because your level of self-awareness is limiting your view then I am sure you can recognise it in other people in your life.
Unconsciously we often handover our state of mind or mood to other people. We find ourselves moving through the day feeling down, frustrated, demotivated or even hurt because of what other people did or didn’t do or for the circumstances that we do or do not find ourselves experiencing.
There is a quote that often pops up on my social media feed that says ‘if you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree’ that makes me laugh every time because it’s so true. If you don’t like where you are or what you are experiencing then take some action and do something about it.
However there is taking action… and there is taking action from a place of conscious awareness. I’m not going all woo woo on you but quite simply we can react or we can pause, check in with what we need and then respond by taking action that is in our best interest.
The question to ask yourself is what do you actually need?
It’s a question that often stops people in their tracks because they have got so hooked in by whatever story they are telling themselves that they have neglected to check in with what they really need to move to a different state. The bigger issue and the purpose of this article is that it true ‘attunement’ is rare. The ability to act as your own tuning fork, to self-regulate with a level of deep awareness is something that we have forgotten or may have never really learnt how to do.
In the 1950’s Douglas Winnicott (a British child psychiatrist) talked about the holding environment that exists and provides children with the physical, emotional and psychological sustenance children needed to grow and thrive. He carried out a number of experiments and created a concept called the ‘Good Enough Mother’. In a nutshell he understood it that children need to be held both physically and emotionally. Young children are unable to make sense of strong emotions and it is the ability of the mother to ‘attune’ to their needs by being loving and attentive. This facilitates a shift from the stress response into the parasympathetic nervous system and the child is then able to regulate.
That’s the theory out of the way!
But what does this mean for us out there in the big wide world that are supposed to be ‘adulting’ every day? Are we supposed to ask co-workers and managers to ‘hold’ us physically and emotionally? Am I suggesting that is what we REALLY need? Is this what is going to shift a blame culture and reduce symptoms of stress?
Can you imagine the scenes in the boardroom even if you could get around that one with HR!
What I am suggesting is that the way through and out of blame, into true levels of responsibility lies within the ability to ‘attune’ to ourselves. Whatever your path of progression is, it will be very difficult to move forward unless you are able to learn how to attune to yourself. It is the underdevelopment of this very skill that often keeps people stuck. They don’t know how to take responsibility for what next because they have never really learnt how to recognise what they need. Even if they do they often do it whilst self-berating and with criticism as the undercurrent. Or react and make choices that are really just sticking a plaster on top of what doesn’t feel good only to find the same patterns keep repeating. To truly attune we need to find a way of being loving and attentive towards ourselves, mimicking the way that a mother would to her child.
If not now when? If not me who? Anon
If you are now creating unhelpful visuals of giving yourself a hug in the corner of a meeting room and saying “there there” before you give the presentation of your life then fear not there are more practical and accessible ways to learn and refine this skill!
Sometimes it just begins with that one degree of change. That one action that allows you to take a baby step and practice treating yourself with loving kindness. Our inner critic can take centre stage so often and now is the time to ask it to take a seat in the audience whilst your inner mother/ best friend/ favourite mentor takes the lead role.
Here are some practical ways that you can start to create a better relationship with the most important person in your life right now – yourself:
- Notice the times that you are prioritising the needs of others over your own. Is there are particular trigger and what could you do to start to shift this? It could be as simple as stopping saying the obligatory yes to certain events and declining with a ‘no thank you, not this time’
- Notice the amount of times that you ‘don’t have time’ to take a proper lunch break, cook something nutritious for your dinner or sacrifice another gym session for a badly run meeting that is over running – again! Create some boundaries that allow you to get some of the basics in place for your well being
- Evaluate the relationships that you are investing your time in. Do you feel energised and recharged or are you constantly feeling resentful and depleted?
Once you have some awareness and are experimenting with making some changes you can start to practice a deeper level of awareness and move into becoming more emotionally attuned. One of the symptoms of a fast paced society is that we just don’t make ‘space’ to feel. We get a glimpse of something not so good emotionally and then we are off into the story of blame or numbing out by choosing things that distract us from noticing what’s really coming up. Emotions are part of the human experience so let’s use them as the messengers that they can be.
We know how to cultivate an inner holding environment where we are undistracted, available and interested in what’s arising internally. We know how to be curious about how we’re feeling – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. – Sara Avant Stover
Here are three things that you can do to start attuning to yourself at a more profound level:
- Begin by bringing your awareness to whatever is arising and stay with it. Notice the anxiety, or butterflies in your stomach.
- Now allow whatever is arising to be fully present. Do not resist the feeling and spin into reaction. What we resist persists. Allow whatever is arising to be fully expressed within you without judgement. This allows you to create space
- Listen to the message that the emotion is carrying and connect to your inner knowing about what it is you really need now. This is the point at which you can choose how to regulate.
A mother that allows a toddler the space to freely express themselves without judgement, then helps to figure out how to help them regulate creates the container for a child that can thrive not just survive. This the best metaphor to illustrate how you can take back control of your own life day to day, moment to moment. What’s happening outside of you is just the drama of life, what’s inside of you is where the real magic lies.
If you are ready to thrive not just survive then get in touch