Do We Recognise Our Need to Recover?

Have you ever said “it’s fine” when things are definitely not fine?  Of course you have!  We all do it don’t we, tell people that we’re OK and that things are going well when they’re not really.  There are different elements to why we do that I think.  Sometimes it depends on who’s asking; do you want to tell your deepest darkest secrets to the new person in the office?  Unlikely.  And do you want to reveal your struggles to the people who believe you to be a tip top, kick ass, effective parent, professional business person, family member and friend?  Hmmm, not always, no.  But do we always admit our struggles and the impact of disappointments, upsets and things that have made us feel hurt or angry to ourselves?  Do we struggle on regardless and try to pretend things are fine when they’re not?  If we don’t recognise and acknowledge the impact of the difficult things that can happen in life, how will we recognise our need to recover?

Who Are We Fooling?

None of us are made of wood and I’ve never met anyone who could shoulder the burden of life’s events without being affected by them.  I’ve met people who’ve said they could do that but further discussions have always revealed an impact, however much that was being denied or suppressed ☹  Life will get to us all at some point and if we’re lucky we have people we love and trust to support us.  But if we’re not acknowledging the impact of things that are happening, we won’t recognise our need to recover and so are unlikely to demonstrate the necessary self care that will help us to heal.

Stress, anxiety and worry can make us poorly.  The list of short term, long term and behavioural effects of stress don’t make happy reading so by saying that things are fine when they’re not, you can affect your physical, mental and emotional health.  Maybe not today but over time the suppression of frustrations, anger, hurt and upset can take their toll, physically, mentally and emotionally.  While it might be right not to share your feelings, thoughts and worries with the new person in the office, it’s right to share them with yourself; to acknowledge when something difficult happens and to recognise the need to recover.

Acknowledge The Impact

After both world wars, people recognised that some never really did recover from their experiences and we now know that condition as post-traumatic stress disorder.  Did the troops receive support and understanding for what they had been through?  I’m sure some of them did but many would have been expected to carry on regardless and to suppress the horrors they had seen.  Many took solace in alcohol and other substances I’m sure as a way of coping and getting through day to day life when their own lives had been changed beyond imagination by what they’d seen and experienced.  We recognise the impact of trauma now and are much more open to support people who are on a path of recovery.  But if we tone down the word ‘trauma’ into hurt, disappointment or upset, are we acknowledging the cumulative impact of those lesser things on our lives?

While we can all like to think that we’re invincible and not affected by difficult events, dopey bosses, mean girl (or boy) colleagues, bullies, disappointments, let downs, failures and defeats, we see those things affect other people but don’t seem to recognise the impact on our own health and wellbeing.  We should just be able to carry on regardless apparently or is that just my internal dialogue?  We’re probably more sympathetic to other people than we are ourselves, giving time for others to talk about how they feel, nodding with empathy and understanding.  Do we do that for ourselves?  It’s MUCH less likely that’ll be the case.

Be Kind To Yourself

The greatest favour I did myself some years ago was to start to recognise the impact of difficult events.  If I perceived that someone had been ‘less than helpful’ to me then I would recognise that I may well feel a bit discombobulated for the next few days.  Previously, I would have been feeling discombobulated but thinking “what the heck’s the matter with me?!”.  By recognising when events would have an impact on me and by being kinder to myself because of it, I would recover more quickly and learn that self care is the best way to find my way back to the road I was looking to travel, before someone pushed me off it!  Just metaphorically of course 😉 

Loss and bereavement are good examples of when we can expect ourselves to be doing better than we are.  Whether we’ve lost a dear person in our lives, a family pet, a job or what might have been a fantastic opportunity, there will be a period of loss during which you might feel low, upset and out of sorts.  I’ve had many stress management clients who said they should be doing better than they were following a loss in their lives but who’s to say how long that period of loss and bereavement should be?  ‘Should’ is a dopey word and no one ‘should’ define how long a period of loss or bereavement will be.  We’re all unique individuals, our life experiences are different and so how we recover will be different too.

A Scale of Impact

In dealing with loss and bereavement we will usually recognise that there will be an impact on us, albeit we can expect to bounce back more quickly than is realistic sometimes.  If we score trauma as 20 on an impact scale and loss as a 14 possibly, depending on that loss of course, how then would we score a disappointment, a let down, the loss of a job, a failed interview or a relationship difficulty?  Because even if you would score those difficulties as a lower number, they will accumulate over time.  Some will hit together and some will hit while you’re recovering from other difficulties.  What’s your score right now? 

Day to day frustrations might only score 0.5 on the impact scale but they’ll still accumulate and for me, any score over a 2 needs some level of acknowledgement to recognise the need to recover.  Even if that’s just a “wow, that was a difficult day”.  That’s still an acknowledgement of the day’s events which will hopefully make you think twice before you rush around like a whirling dervish at home later.  Sit yourself down please!  Let yourself rest and recover, acknowledge the difficulties of the day and make a plan.  One for who else can do the chores and another for your self care and recovery.  By acknowledging difficulties and recognising your need to recover you can negotiate emotional difficulties more easily.  If your impact score is high, accessing support might be a good idea. Emotions can weigh you down and without support it might be difficult to move forward. Asking for help is a sign of strength and a great first step towards recovery, not the failure some people think it is.

I appreciate it’s a leap of faith, to be more open with yourself about when you’re struggling but in my experience it’s definitely worth it and my health and wellbeing have definitely improved as a result of that change. There are still difficult days or course but I navigate them with greater strength and clarity, and when someone tries to push me off my road of progress, I flippin well push them back! Just metaphorically of course! 😉

Take good care please, be honest with yourself and have a great day.

Best wishes, Karen