Mental Flip-Flop: My All or Nothing Tendencies

Mental Flip-Flop: My All or Nothing Tendencies

Reading Time: 8 Minutes

In previous posts I touched upon what I refer to as my All or Nothing patterns of thought and/or behavior. An alternative title I give to this pattern is flip-flopping – when something doesn’t seem to be working one way for me, or even if something is not going well, I have the tendency to then throw all of my weight behind whatever the opposite is of that. When using this term, I also include such instances in which I severely restrict or purposely block certain aspects of my life, simply because I think that by cutting them off, this will be a sure fire way to end up at the destination I visualize for myself in the future.

Typically this All or Nothing pattern has shown up in my romantic relationships or more generally, my attitude towards romance and/or dating. The more I thought about this pattern, though, I began to realize that it actually shows up in other areas of my life.

One instance would be my views on dating. I previously wrote of how my experience with dating men had gone so poorly, having allowed myself to interact with such low-vibrational men, that I flip-flopped to the complete opposite end of the spectrum – I swore off men altogether. No man I was dating was good, therefore the majority of men probably also stunk. Therein and of itself was reasonable enough logic to pluck myself out of the dating pool/game/whatever it is you want to call it for the remainder of my days.

Not reasonable logic at all, as I now recognize and feel confident in pointing out – quite irrational, and restricting if you think about it.

One other notable instance, which I have confided in my therapist about, is that I don’t feel I should enter another relationship until I have “all of my shit figured out”. Coming from a place of being in a relationship and realizing the extent of what I had to work on emotionally, meant that once I was out of that relationship, I swore off striking up a new relationship until I had worked out the kinks, ruts and by-products of my detrimental thinking and emotional immaturity.

I told Karla (my therapist) that I didn’t want to date until I was sure I was prepared to handle my emotions, the reactions that are a result of my emotions, and emotional by-products such as abandonment issues, irrational feelings of guilt and making myself emotionally smaller (all of which I have previously discussed on this site). I told her I was almost afraid to enter another relationship because I knew select emotional reactions and patterns of thinking that have a tendency to emerge when I’m in a romantic relationship, would certainly arise. My logic was, why should I subject someone else to them, if i’m ill-equipped or unprepared to handle them myself? It didn’t seem fair to a potential partner.

While All or Nothing patterns of thought and behavior could be deemed unhealthy, unpredictable or irrational, I think at the core of my own behavior and thinking is a defense mechanism – a wall I put up as a result of someone else’s behavior hurting me (keeping others out) or my own detrimental behavior towards someone else (keeping myself closed in). I don’t wish to be bamboozled by immature men but I also don’t wish for my emotional immaturity to hurt or cause injury to the men I date.

I have always been the type of person when once I have made a mistake or done something wrong, i’ll remember not to do it again. Of course, you could simply label me as a fast learner, as obedient, as quick to try to make amends. However, I would classify this as a form of All or Nothing behavior – a mistake is an error and therefore, I must wholesomely try my best to never make the same mistake again. I muse as to if my logic for not wanting to enter another relationship (I like how I make it sound as easy as walking to the grocery store or going to a doctor’s appointment) is unconsciously because my patterns of behavior are something which I haven’t learned how not to do, or have the ability to stop.

Look – I know there is power in recognizing what you can and cannot control and you can only control what you can, but it’s truly SO much easier said than done. I’m not there yet in terms of knowing how or being able to curve my emotional immaturity which pops up in my relationships. I certainly think i’m on the right path, in terms of acquiring the mental tools and skills to be able to do so. But at this point in time, they are not something I can promise i’ll never do again. So it’s possible, in the back of my mind, I think it’s best to just eliminate a situation in which they may potentially occur, altogether.

This All or Nothing pattern of thinking and behaving also applies to my goals and dreams. In recent years, I have wanted to experience living in another country. A while back I had my sights set on going on an African safari for my 30th birthday. Now I have shifted back to wanting to live in another country – more specifically, my plan is to move elsewhere in 2022. I can visit Africa on vacation anytime (well … within reason). I feel like living in another country for an extended period of time, becomes a bit more difficult when you add a partner and/or kids into the mix. I’d rather do it while I am not tied down.

Initially I didn’t want to date anyone between now and then because I didn’t want a potential relationship to interfere with my goal – a goal which I am 100% certain I will regret not doing when I am older.Once again, you could say I am engaging in flip-flopping behavior – completely cutting out one part of my life for the sake of breathing life into another to ensure that it happens (or at least in my mind, ensure that it happens). Knowing my younger self as it is in this moment, I know that my older self will pine for a time when I was young, able-bodied, free of a partner or children, reliant on my own wealth and self and was able to do what I wanted.

That being said, amidst my own self-exploration and in conversations with others, I realized I can’t live in the future – nor can I place certain aspects of my life on hold for the sake of guaranteeing other aspects. If the goal is meant to be, and if it’s something I really, truly want, it will happen, regardless of if I block out certain parts of my life or not. Might as well enjoy all that life has to offer in the meantime.

I find it interesting to be writing this post about shutting myself out of dating and/or a relationship, considering the amount I talk of “entering a relationship” on this site. You would think based upon the amount of energy I focus on writing about said topic, that must be the very thing I want. This is not entirely the case. While technically we are still in the midst of a pandemic, and as such, dating is a bit of a question mark, it’s been a great time to explore my single self and habits, and learning to be more flexible (and less flip-floppy) in my attitude and perspective towards dating.

Case in point, I went on a date last Monday. It completely tanked. Within the first 5 minutes of being on it, I wanted it to end. Not only was he not at all what I expected but he was 15 minutes late, leaving me to awkwardly stand outside the ice cream shop we were due to meet at, squinting at random men through my sunglasses. He also didn’t eat his ice cream fast enough, to the point it was melting all over his hand – I thought it was gross, but whatever.

Karla helped me realize that I can, in fact, date people, while still working on myself. It’s more important to continue the process of learning, failing, getting back up again and carrying on, than to full stop altogether (which is what I thought I should do). I went on a date – I tried, it failed. But that doesn’t mean I should stop dating cold turkey because that one guy was icky or because in a year and a half I’ll be saying sayonara to Canada. Therapy has helped me (and continues to help me) in terms of dispelling and breaking down irrational patterns of thought and/or behavior, compounded by other irrational patterns of thought and/or behavior. Not only that, but it’s helped me to realize, a truly understanding, kind and helpful partner, will be there through the tough times, when I can’t seem to get a grip on my emotional concerns. They will also understand that they don’t expect me to be perfect, but understand I am doing my best to be the best version of myself for them.

Thank you for reading as always. If you liked what you read, give my post a like, hit the Follow button on the top right-hand corner of this post, and turn on post-notifications, so you never miss an LE blog post! Don’t forget to join my monthly email list by signing up below, for updates, bonus content, and recommendations from yours truly!

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Mid Year Self Check-In

Mid Year Self Check-In

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Today i’m taking a break from scraping the bottom of the barrel of my emotional flaws to do a mid year self check in. On Wednesday it is July 1st – over halfway through the year already. Wednesday also marks the ever so celebratory Canada Day – a day to mark when our beautiful country became … well … a country.

Canada only became a country in 1867. When you look at the timeline of the entire history of the world/(wo)mankind/non-binarykind, Canada’s timeline is incredibly recent, especially when compared to most European and African countries. We are still relatively new. We have come very far in our short time span and are known for diverse and talented people, majestic landscapes and a myriad of progressive ideas – working towards a more inclusive and equal society for all (heck we changed our national anthem for the sake of it), the legalization of cannabis, as well as a bang-up job of managing the coronavirus pandemic in comparison to our Southern neighbors.

Also inventing basketball. You’re welcome.

But we still have a lot to learn, in terms of our education and ability to handle and address such issues as those related to poverty, including our rampantly rising homelessness population, especially in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Also issues related to race – we tout ourselves for being progressive in our commitment to equality – yet still have Indigenous reserves in Canada without access to clean drinking water. Does that spell out equality to you? To me it doesn’t. Or even the fact we celebrate the beginnings of when our country was first marked a country according to colonization, despite the fact that Indigenous peoples of Canada were here for thousands of years prior to our official confederation written down in the history books.

By bringing these aspects up, it’s not meant to take a jab at an otherwise celebratory day, but to make you stop and think about how far we’ve come and where we’ve got to go. That’s the theme of today’s post for myself amidst my self-check in, as well: What have I accomplished so far, and what I wish to accomplish over the remaining half of this year.

I have a “My Vision” page in my day planner. When January 2020 first rolled around, I spent one bored day at work, scribbling down what I wanted to make time for, and what I wanted to work on/eliminate. On the corresponding page I wrote down a list of goals for myself for this year. I also wrote down dreams, both short term and long term, for myself. Today i’m going to share them with you.

Take note, I wrote a lot of these pre-COVID, so many I haven’t done simply due to the fact that I have been stuck in my house since March. So there yee be.

My Vision for the Year – Making Time for
  • Self Care
  • Exercise
  • Time with Friends
  • Meditation
  • New Experiences
My Vision for the Year – Working On/Eliminating
  • Overthinking
  • Negative Self-Talk
  • Insecurities
  • Stress
  • Word Vomit
My Vision for the Year – Goals
  • Learn to play piano – I have learned one and a half songs (lol – half? Yes half)
  • Learn to play the cello – hoping to take a socially distanced workshop in the fall for 18+
  • Speak my opinion more – working on it – ya girl hates conflict remember?
  • Recognize and train myself not to stress – I think I am getting better at this – mindfulness has been wonderful in doing so
  • Take a cooking class – not yet
  • Throw mom an awesome 60th birthday – yes! A surprise one – went off without a hitch!
  • Celebrate Corey & Danielle’s wedding (go a few days before) – will be attending in a few short weeks
  • Practice mindfulness at least once a week – yes, actually now I try to practice every day if I can
  • Go whale-watching – will be doing so when I got to the wedding listed above
  • Go to Whistler – not yet
  • Learn to Dance – …. not yet – I continue to dance like one of those inflatable flailing men they often place out front of car dealerships
  • Learn about Essential Oils (and buy more!) – not yet
  • Go to the sunflower and tulip festival – canceled this year – maybe next year
  • Lose 5 to 10 pounds – working on it!
  • Eat vegan more – Definitely – I have significantly cut down my red meat and chicken consumption – I eat a lot more tofu and I like it
  • Visit more vegan restaurants – not yet
  • Take a painting or pottery class – not yet
  • JOB CHANGE (PUT IN ALL CAPS) – NOT YET BUT ACTIVELY WORKING ON IT
  • Read 10 books (maybe more??) – I have read 5 so far, working on a 6th and listening to 2 audio books
  • Buy new furniture – I’ve bought all new deck furniture – makes my heart happy
  • Think before I speak more – not yet – work in progress
  • Cook yummy meals – yesssss
  • Take better care of my skin – yes! Up until March when everything shut down, I was going for monthly facials. I also no longer skimp on skincare products or go back and forth about spending the money. If I want it, and it’s rated well, I consider it an investment for my face down the road.
  • Love better, love deeper – I think I sort of have – the pandemic has held me back from doing so but has definitely made me realize the importance of doing so
  • Make margaritas – no but I have my mum’s lime margarita recipe and it is KILLER. Might have to make a batch for Canada Day, despite trying to be healthy. I wonder if margaritas are on Weight Watchers LOL
  • Not kill a plant! – I have killed some … but have also managed to KEEP SOME ALIVE
  • Get photos of friends developed – not yet
  • Travel – Washington, D.C., Grand Canyon, Yellowstone. International? Argentina, Croatia, Austria/Switzerland – nope – grounded
  • Go bowling – not yet
  • Say ‘sorry’ less – 100% have curved this – my sorries are sacred, you don’t get one unless I really truly mean it
  • Go to the Rugby 7’s – not this year
  • Pet and hold a piglet – apparently piglets don’t like to be held – my family makes fun of me for this goal but piglets are CUTE AS SHIT AND NOBODY CAN TELL ME OTHERWISE
  • Complete more puzzles! – SO MANY PUZZLES IN QUARANTINE
Short-Term & Long-Term Dreams
  • Spend New Year’s Eve in Scotland – Hogmanay
  • Go to Mardi Gras
  • Spend St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland
  • Go on a meditation retreat
  • Learn a new language
  • Swim once a week
  • Be well-read
  • Buy a vacation home (not sure where yet)
  • Be financially stable to never work another desk job again
  • Become a meditation teacher
  • Teach people how to meditate
  • Run meditation retreats
  • Live in another country
  • Run a successful blog (I defined success as 10k followers by the time I was 30)
  • Get married
  • Have kids
  • Hold a baby sloth
  • To speak at my own TEDxTalk
  • Go on an African safari for my 30th birthday
  • Be able to do the splits
  • Be able to do crow pose
  • Consistently continue going to therapy

Thank you for reading as always. If you liked what you read, give my post a like, hit the Follow button on the top right-hand corner of this post, and turn on post-notifications, so you never miss an LE blog post! Don’t forget to join my monthly email list by signing up below, for updates, bonus content, and recommendations from yours truly!

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The world is my oyster

A really simple Friday affirmation that’s been said to me before, which I needed to hear today.

I’m going to be transparent with you all – I got into the meditation teacher training program which I had applied for a few weeks back. Now I’m not so sure I’m ready to commit to it. Primarily because of choosing what dreams of mine to allocate my money to first. I have a dream to visit Africa when I turn 30, but I also have a dream to become a meditation teacher. Africa came before I dreamed of teaching meditation, so I should go with that right?

I’m at a crossroads. I should start saving for Africa pretty much now, if I intend to save up enough to feel comfortable going by 2022. But now is actually a really great time to learn to meditate while working from home. I don’t want to say it’s a hard decision because it’s really not – I’m making a decision about which dream I want to pursue more – which is hella amazing. Some people don’t even have that. Some people (as I am learning lately) don’t even have the privilege to consider travel or consider advancement or personal growth in the first place. So I acknowledge the privilege I hold, and I respect it. I am at an interesting point in my life – one where I am not tied down to any one location or job. I’m also not tied down by a boyfriend or husband and don’t have any kids. I can essentially do what I want and go where I want.

I think I’ve spent so long not acknowledging my dreams that now that I’m in this head-space where I know what my dreams are, and I’ve breathed life into them, I want to do everything now … and if I don’t then that dream will be forgotten about again.

But dreams take time, and that is also something which I am working to recognize. Perhaps pursuing the longer term dream will be bring me more satisfaction because I worked that much harder for it.

My Mother: 10 Lessons at 60

My Mother: 10 Lessons at 60

[TW: ED]

Reading Time: 10 Minutes

Today my mom turns 60. This past weekend, I asked her to reflect on life as she turns the big 6-0 – looking back on lessons learned, what she’d go back and tell her younger self if she could, and what she plans to do moving forward.

I’ve focused a lot of my energy recently on writing about my dad, about his absence and inconsistency throughout my childhood, and (in the works at the moment) his alcoholism. But throughout this writing, I’ve often thought “What about mom? Why focus so much energy on the invisible parent when the other was so present. She was the real hero of these stories”. She understands that my writing is a way to work through what I’ve lived through, but I thought it was about time that I focus on her – what a perfect week/day to do so.

In the past, she’d put her own needs aside to raise us offspring, while at the same time, putting up with an immense amount of bullshit from my dad. She’s pushed past the societal stigmas of raising 2 kids as a single parent and the criticism that’s been dished out to her that kids from broken homes end up troubled. My brother and I have not let this stigma define us, shape us, or take hold of us – speak to past teachers, speak to family friends, speak to our places of employment and you will find praise of 2 hardworking, caring individuals. That’s not meant to boost us up, in fact I take it very humbly. What i’m saying is we owe that praise to her.

She often makes enough food to feed a small army and at 60, still hasn’t figured out the correct quota of person to pasta ratio. She found love again at 52, after choosing to stay single for 15 years so she could raise us kids (meanwhile i’m over here lamenting about being single at 30). She has shared her appreciation for older music and movies with my brother and I (a la impromptu Milli Vanilli boogie sessions in the kitchen). She is strong, she is kind and not afraid to speak her opinion. She is helpful and she is loving – happy 60th birthday to my momma. Without further ado, here are 10 lessons at 60 from my mother and 2 lessons she hopes to adapt moving forward.

Accept your partner as they are

“If you find yourself in a relationship, especially when you are younger, accept your partner as they are – do not try to change them. If you find yourself trying and struggling to change aspects of your partner, it may be wise to take a step back, reconsider who you are with and whether that’s the person you’re meant to be with. Reflecting upon my first marriage before your dad, my ex and I grew apart in different ways. I was naggy and didn’t speak for long periods of time (when upset). Looking back now, I recognize he was perfectly fine the way he was – it’s crazy now that I reflect on it.”

I asked her what she thought she was trying to change in him, and she said “all those dumb guy things – the things young guys don’t think about, but you expect them to. Especially when you are younger you think they can read your mind, you don’t communicate. That’s another thing – you should never not speak – even if you fight and yell at each other, it’s better to do that then not talk. Eric (her current partner) says he has nothing to work with when I shut down.”

Your friends can be your family

“My friends are more like my family. I have friends that I connect with more than family members. Just because you’re related to someone doesn’t mean you are automatically close with them. It also doesn’t mean you have to be friends with them. Some people have that (connection with their siblings), but just because you are related, it doesn’t mean you have to work at a relationship that is hard, or try to the point where it’s disturbing in your life – you can give up on it.”

Struggles are what make you stronger

“Every struggle led me to where I am now, which is a very positive place (I commented that it was probably the healthiest place she has ever been). Eric and I allow each other to just be ourselves. Every hurdle that you jump through and come out the other side, leads you to a better place.”

Wisdom with Money

“I would have been way wiser with money way earlier. But it was all about the party. You made the money and you spent the money, and you tried to save it but then took it out of places you shouldn’t have. I often think of Whistler Blackcombe, I could have bought a place for $8,000. Why were we so stupid with money? Why are you so smart?”

I proposed I thought it was because the economy was okay back then (in the 80’s), and the cost of living was cheaper, so there wasn’t as great of a need to save. As I pointed out to her now, I can’t afford to buy a house. “There were also jobs you could get without schooling, which may have also meant more disposable income when I was younger. I was also somewhat behind in money from raising your brother and you. So I would say just be wiser with money.”

Traveling lighter makes for a happier trip.

“Every trip I take I learn to take less with me because the less baggage you take with you, the happier your trip will be. Travel is so much easier with less and you usually don’t end up wearing half of what you take.”

Have Patience.

“Patience is something I have learned. Having patience has benefited me in that I don’t get agitated about little things. Patience also requires me to …”

Slow Down.

“If your pace is slower you have more patience. I’m in no hurry to get things done any longer. Sometimes things irritate me, but very little does anymore. I used to be the Queen of Rushing when I was younger, but I don’t rush anymore, I allow myself down time now. Some people might say it’s wrong, that you should live in the moment, but I don’t live in the moment. I know what I am eating a week and a half from now – that’s who I am. I have always had to be one date ahead, but that’s not something I think I have learned (a lesson from) – that’s something I see as a good thing for me, it’s what I do. It’s not something I would want to change ever.”

I asked her if she wished she lived more in the present over the years – “It was not a possibility as a single parent of 2 kids. But I look back to the summer holidays, that one summer we went to Drumheller – we put Sun In in our hair and you kids went back to school looking healthy and tanned. I look back at those times and I was present. I still knew what we were having for dinner and still knew what we were doing the next day, but I enjoyed it, I was with you kids. At home, when working full time and running from one activity to the next, I always had to be ahead of it. Now, I don’t have to do or be that way (both of us kids have flown the coop) but it’s an organizational thing for me, it’s part of who I am. I would rather be the way I am than at 4:00pm in the afternoon go “hmm what am I going to have for dinner?”. Speeding up to slow down, as I put it, and she agreed.

Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

“I have learned how to laugh at myself. If something is funny, and little things just happen, I don’t take it home with me. I don’t come home and say “oh my god, oh my god”. Instead of beating myself up about things, I can laugh at myself which is important. You don’t care as much about what people think as you get older.”

I told her I looked forward to growing older for that reason.

Eat Healthy, Everything in Moderation

“I think that a diet, like a really restrictive diet is not healthy – I think that the strive to be thin can be all-consuming. I did all kinds of stupid stuff. I took laxatives when I was in my 20’s, I made these muffins that were held together by bran and nothing else. I’ve always had a weight problem. I do love Weight Watchers, I don’t know if you can pump them up on your blog. My mother had me on this diet when I was 8 that was grapefruit, boiled eggs, and Swiss cheese and that’s all I ate for like a week. Those kinds of weird things – doing things to your body that are destructive. I just think healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle are the way to go, but also to live a little once in a while – have that doughnut if you want to, everything in moderation.”

As I pointed out to her, with that sort of diet when you are 8, you are reinforcing the belief that your body is not what it should be, you reinforce the idea of an “other”, like it should be something that it’s not. The second point is that creates such disordered eating when you start so young, in women especially, which is probably why she ended up making bran muffins with nothing to them.

“I would say enjoy life – if people relaxed a little bit more about diets, they would find their weight wouldn’t fluctuate so much and would probably be happier.”

Walk Away From DramaEspecially Workplace Drama

When talking about her previous workplace: “I was seen as not very social or friendly because I wanted to avoid the drama that filled my workplace. When I was younger I may have made more of an effort to be social but as I got older, and especially at the specific location of where I worked, my intent was to come to work, do my job and leave. Nobody there liked their job. They got stuck there because of the money, they were grumpy and hated what they were doing. They were trying to create something out of nothing and trying to make other people unhappy because they were not happy. It’s toxic – they were not happy in their own lives and there was so much talking about everyone else behind their backs. You don’t need it – stay away from it.”

2 Things To Work Towards

Become a Better Listener

“I would like to, in the future, between 60 and 70, to not, while someone is talking, have my brain going in a million different directions in how i’m going to respond to them. To stop my brain and actually listen to somebody. That’s one thing, it’s a big one. It’s always going – when you’re talking to me, I’m thinking of what i’m going to say or something else. And it’s not you, it’s just who I am and my brain has had to do that for years. That’s something I’m going to work on. It’s back to the point earlier about slowing down.”

Express Gratitude on a Daily Basis

“I would like to wake up every morning and think of something I’m grateful for, to take a page from your book. Because sometimes you forget, all the good you have and you need to remind yourself every day.”

Thank you for reading as always. If you liked what you read, give my post a like, hit the Follow button on the top right-hand corner of this post, and turn on post-notifications, so you never miss an LE blog post! Don’t forget to join my monthly email list by signing up below, for updates, bonus content, and recommendations from yours truly!

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