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Picking at the scab….

So I was trying to think of a nicer title for this week’s blog but all I could think about is this phrase and it really does clearly describe what it feels like when something you have done doesn’t quite go to plan and you just keep going over it again and again in your mind.

Maybe you justify the part you had in the ‘thing’ or play out how things would have been different if you didn’t say that thing or do that thing or if you had taken a different approach, maybe you even have that whole conversation out loud with yourself (no? just me then....)

But, as I'm pretty sure you know, the thing with scabs is if you keep picking at them they take a really long time to heal and often leave a bit of scar tissue that can hang around for years, if not forever.

In essence, when we keep playing over the thing that happened, we are at risk of creating a metaphorical scab that can easily spiral into stress and anxiety 'why did I say that?' and a longer term fear of putting ourselves in the same situation and repeating that 'thing' again as our learnt experience becomes 'when we do that thing, it doesn't work out well for me'.

This can also sometimes result in us overcompensating to try to make things better by being super helpful, super friendly, super blah blah blah... Do you recognise this feeling? If so, we really need to figure out a way to stop feeding that wolf, because it's insatiable.

First thing to say is, let's put it into context. Quite rightly you should be the star of your own show, but we forget that that means for most other people we are just bit part players in their lives (significant others are an exception to this of course). But, what does that mean I hear you say...

Well, what this really means is that we think a lot about what we do, say and how we interact with the world of course, that's completely natural. But it also means that what feels like a really big 'thing' for you, most other people will not really be thinking about it and even if they do at the time, they will probably have moved on and be thinking about something else pretty quickly. As we start to recognise this, we can rationalise our thoughts a little more and start to starve that wolf.

When all of these thoughts are swarming around in our heads, it can feel like there is no way out and I have worked with people who were genuinely considering leaving their job for fear that their relationship with someone was terminally effected by that 'thing' that didn't quite come out the way they intended. In a few, very rare, cases that may be the right thing to do but more often when we get that 'thing' and all its associated feelings and thoughts out of our head, we can see it for what it often is, which is not much really and very unlikely to be the event of life changing proportions that we have imagined.

So how do we get it out of our head... Kylie? (sorry)

One pretty effective way is to write it down, sounds simple enough right? It might even feel a bit counter-intuitive e.g. if we write it down it makes it more real doesn't it? Well.... no not really. What it does is allow you to free up the space in your head that it's consuming and when it's on paper it's also much easier to rationalise.

I like to use a nice notebook, but I am quite stationery motivated, and then open the book and just start writing about the 'thing' that happened.

I find it helps if I write about it in the following way:

  • What actually happened?

  • What impact did it really have?

  • Who should you talk to about this?

  • What would be gained by doing that?

  • What is one positive learning you can take from it?

Once it's out of my head, I can clearly see that 'thing' for what it is and then decide what I am going to with it, because how we choose to respond to any given situation is up to us, right?.

So why not decide to take the learning from it and just move on? Another experience, another part of life and just imagine what you could be thinking about, when you free up all that thinking space that these thoughts take up.... grand plans await and the right wolf thrives!

and in case you haven't read it the story of the two wolves, here is the link:


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