Progress Report

Shared experiences of life, and the path that has led you to where you are.

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Lil Welby
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2019 12:33 pm

Progress Report

Postby Lil Welby » Thu Nov 07, 2019 1:41 pm

Hey Everyone,

Hope the day is all treating you well and you're continuing to fight the good fight. I've been having a lot of trouble taking action lately, but I felt like I could manage a general post, so here we are.

It's been a mission of mine to try and get out with my daughter and socialize. Over the last few weeks I've reached out to several different organizations and have received a wealth of helpful information that is currently sitting in the inbox of my email, unread. I can't seem to bring myself to start to review this information to put the next steps of my plan into action, it is just too overwhelming. That little tidbit aside, I've got a personal story from yesterday that I would like to share.

I live in a pretty small town with a population of about 15,000 people. I've been trying to find things to do locally with my daughter because I feel like a sense of community is key to overcoming my depression and anxiety. I was delighted to find out that the local library has a story time every Wednesday morning, so we went yesterday, and I can say overall it was of benefit and I will continue to take her. In the moment though, this was not the case.

My anxiety kicked in really early in the morning, just dreading the thought of the experience. My daughter has been waking up around 5am since the time change, so I had about 4.5 solid hours of dread that I was just trying to keep in check. I didn't let me talk myself out of it, we showed up. It continued to be a very uncomfortable experience though. It's almost like I have forgotten how to socialize, I spent most of my time trying to not look on the outside how I felt on the inside. To compound the problem, I was the only male there aside from a grandfather/granddaughter duo. I see the mothers socializing and discussing their little ones, and I can't get over this sense of being an outcast, of being different and unaccepted. I know that is probably not the reality of the situation, but that is the battle going on inside my mind.
We refuse to recognize that everything better is purchased at the price of something worse. -Carl Jung-

Spleefy
Posts: 241
Joined: Sat Sep 09, 2017 6:54 am

Re: Progress Report

Postby Spleefy » Fri Nov 08, 2019 7:46 am

Hi Welby,

Thank you so much for keeping us updated.

From what I can tell, you are doing all the right things.

The fact that you felt uncomfortable is actually a good thing, in my opinion. This means that you stepped out of your comfort zone. After all, we can’t make progress by always staying in our comfort zones. It’s like building muscles or becoming fitter… we need to go past what is comfortable and push those limits. It's like when I was lifting weights... man it hurt! But it's because my muscles were growing. Or when I ran further than I felt I was ready for. This hurt and I wanted to collapse, but I became stronger because of it. Or when we study, speaking for myself anyway, my brain hurt lol. Studying and learning new things literally hurts lol. This is because our brain creates new neurons and makes stronger connections between each other. No wonder learning hurts! But it's fantastic and necessary.

Right now you are doing that. You are pushing past your comfort zone. It may not feel like it at times, but you are making progress.

You should be proud yourself for all the effort you making. Not only are you stepping up to the plate and becoming a good leader to yourself, but you are also being a fantastic role model for your family, especially your daughter. She doesn’t understand any of this now, but she will in the future. She has one heck of dad!

I can relate to how you felt in the social situation you faced.

What I found helped was to allow myself to experience these feelings. I gave myself the space to feel and process both positive and negative experiences or feelings. I think it’s important to give ourselves permission to have bad days or to feel bad.

The more you keep doing this, the easier it will become. My anxiety was so severe that I couldn’t even check my letterbox.

The way I overcame it was to do what you are doing—to take action. Anxiety paralysed me. It took me hours just to step out of my house and into the public domain. But I forced it, over and over. I kept slowly pushing out of my comfort zone in manageable chunks.

Today, I am comfortable in virtually any social setting. Back then, I used to overthink and feel self-conscious in public. Now, I just go out and do whatever I need to do, chat with people, smile, and have a great time. I enjoy going out. I enjoy meeting new people, despite being a loner and introverted by nature.

I owe this not to changing my thinking, but to changing my behavior. In other words, I behaved my way to success, so to speak. I “faked it till I made it”. Often we will change our thinking and hope our behavior will follow. But I find it more effective to change my behavior and let my thinking follow.

I used to try to give myself a motivational speech before taking action. It did work some of the time, but at the end of the day, I knew I had to just get dressed and walk out the door before I even think about it.

By trying to change our thoughts first, we have more chance of talking ourselves out of it. So acting first will bypass that. Once we do something and gain momentum, our thought processes will naturally correspond to our actions and behavior.

A lot of people will say to “think positive”. However, I would say a more effective approach is to act positive. Think positive, yes, but also do positive things.

An illustration is when I train my puppy. I first lure and shape. I use a treat to lure him into the positions I want (sit, stand, down, etc.). After I shape the behavior, I then add the command to the behavior and keep repeating this until he gets it. Then I remove the lure and say the command only. He gets it, I reward him with a jackpot (handful of treats and praise). Then I will practice this with him to perfect it and keep it fresh.

So when training him I always get the behavior and shape biomechanics first, well before I add the commands. And we always practice, practice, practice.

This is no different to us humans. We must first lure and shape ourselves into the right behavior. Then we start to add positive words and thoughts to our actions to form positive associations. In this case, you may think of your daughter as the “lure”. She was an incentive to make you socialize. We need an incentive or “lure” to make us want to do something just as a treat is a lure and reward for dogs. And the stronger the lure or incentive, the more willing and motivated we are to work for it.

And, just as training my puppy, we need to always keep doing it over and over to make it a part of every fibre of our being and it becomes second nature. I always make sure training is fun for him. And after training, we have big rewards such as going for an adventure in the wilderness or down to the beach or a play. This is also good for us. When I do something positive or accomplish something, I will reward myself for it. It not only keeps you motivated, but it is a way to give yourself appreciation.

So keep working on yourself. Keep taking responsibility for your own life and well-being. You are doing fantastic, Welby!!! I actually found your post encouraging, even for me in my current position. You are setting a great example for us all to follow.
Jehovah is close to the brokenhearted; he saves those who are crushed in spirit.—Psalm 34:18


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