A mini breakdown and recovery

Today I had an important test I knew I could ace, and yet I mismanaged my time and wasn’t able to finish. I was so frustrated and angry with myself, and I had a mini breakdown.

I cracked. I cancelled everything planned later in the day and buried myself in bed. I wanted to cry, I wanted to hide, I wanted the relief of sleep. I slept for hours. Constructive, I know.

But then I woke up. And I felt a bit more compassionate towards myself. Yes, I didn’t do as well as I could have, but I had been exhausted from lack of sleep. Also, it is still good practice for other tests and maybe I will do better than I thought. Nothing I can do about it now. Just learn for next time.

And I had a surge of energy and started to tackle a lot of things I’d left half done. I got rid of clothes that didn’t fit, purged clutter in my room and completely organized my closet. It felt so nice as these were things I’d been wanting to do for quite a while and the clutter always weighed on me.

So at the end of the day, I’m feeling more neutral — not upset over the test as that is finished and there is nothing to do but wait for the results, and satisfied with my decluttering progress. I was triggered for the potential of crashing, but managed a bit of compassion to reenergize and inspire myself in other ways.

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A new year, mantras and compassion

Wow, it’s been over a month since my last post! My WordPress 2014¬†Year in Review report shows a definite drop in activity, from posting nearly daily last winter and spring to once month or so in the fall. I’ve missed blogging and this great community so I will try to be more active again. ūüôā

With the new year, it is of course time for resolutions. But instead,¬†I heard about another idea that I would like to try: making new year¬†mantras. I like the idea because it’s not so absolute as a resolution — I will always do this or never do that. Instead it’s like regularly reaffirming an intention — much better for my perfectionist self, who avoids¬†anything with the potential for¬†failure. (And who sees the first small mistake as failure…)

I have yet to create my mantras, but it’s something I intend to put my mind to this week. A year or two ago my therapist recommended I do the same, so I think it will be a good step.

Speaking of perfectionism, I’ve been listening to an interesting e-book while doing some boring tasks. It’s called¬†The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert.¬†I’ll write more on this once I’ve finished it, but it looks at the following:

  • the evolution of the human brain
  • how our brains and bodies are programmed to work and their discord with modern life
  • perfectionism and criticism and how they contribute to anxiety and depression
  • what compassion is and how it can be used in daily life
  • how a compassionate approach can help those with depression and anxiety, anger and other issues.

The section on criticism, perfectionism and anxiety made me realize that I focus a lot¬†on my depression, but not so much on the anxiety that (I think) causes it. Most of what he says really resonates and¬†I’m interested in trying out some of the compassion exercises he recommends in order to develop compassion skills.¬†He says it’s all about practice and exercise, just like with¬†building physical fitness.¬†We’ll see if I can teach this old brain some new tricks!

Have any of you read some interesting thoughts on compassion? Do you have a mantra that really works for you?