OK here is todays post as promised. Firstly I want to express how much setbacks are all part of recovery. Again there will never be a post saying ‘How to make sure you don’t have a setback’ You almost certainly will, the post is to tell you how to deal with them.
Setbacks for me were the hardest things to work out
‘I thought I had cracked it, why do I feel so bad again?’
‘Oh I hate this feeling, I thought it had gone forever’
‘Last week was so good and now I am back to square one, this will be me forever’
These were just a few of the statements that I came out with when I first started to recover. What did these statements do? Well they filled me with self pity, filled me with thoughts of ‘maybe I am doing something wrong, this is not working’, I began to fight again, to try and figure out why this had happened, worried about ever getting better. I did everything wrong basically.
I eventually changed this way of thinking and said’ I have been through so much, do I really expect to be better overnight?’ No of course I am going to have a few setbacks. I felt bloody awful for months on end, with no good days, this up and down affair tells me things are improving, I am finally getting somewhere’. And that’s the hardest part, feeling great and then when we feel bad again, it seems even worse, as we enjoyed some good days and now its back.
Setbacks come because suffering is still raw, we have suffered and been through so much, our bodies and minds do take time to regain their balance, a stressful event or memory can trigger a setback. Sometimes we may just feel bad for no reason. Well we feel happy some days and sad on others, but don’t feel the need to work out why. And this brings me to the whole point, there is no need to go too deep into why they come, as it does not matter, that is not important, its how you deal with them that is.
And trust me the more you go through setbacks, the easier it becomes, as you begin to realise they always pass and become an expert in letting them, they don’t feel as important when they come in the future. They just become a little nusiance and that’s fine. Don’t ever try and scramble your way back to how you were last week, just accept it as part of recovery, another chance to not care, to let it do its worse. Here is something Clare mentioned last week.
My only concern is that I never want to go back to the way I was a few months ago and I’m trying to make some changes in my life to solve that, like more exercise, eating better, relaxing more and talking about things rather than bottle them up. But unfortunately life deals you some knocks every so often and I’d like to think I could handle these knocks and not crumble with anxiety like I have done in the past. Thanks to your book Paul I have more confidence to get through the bad times, but I’d like to know if there were any changes you made to help you keep a positive outlook in life and not let stress get on top of you.
The changes Clare are very good, I can’t express how much making changes to my lifestyle made a difference. But do them for yourself, don’t do them with the attitude of keeping anxiety at bay, as then if you do have a setback you will begin to question everything again and also don’t live your life trying to keep anxiety at bay. Remember it is always, ‘It does not matter how I feel, if I feel anxiety then so be it’ Do you see the difference. I actually welcomed a setback, I stopped caring how I felt, so it was not an issue. I did all the ‘Must do everything to stop it coming’ and got nowhere. This is why people go around searching for medical cures, therapists, internet searches, forums…All to stop it coming or to get rid of it. And this is the reason most of the time they get nowhere, as the opposite is true, allow it to be there, welcome it, don’t care if it is or not and this goes for setbacks. It is hard and very tempting to fight or try and push it away, to try and ‘Do something about it’ but it gets you nowhere.
My attitude and what I teach others is welcome the good days and don’t get too down about the bad. Don’t try and scramble back to how you were. Don’t waste an ounce of energy on why you feel bad again, it passes, it always does. But setbacks can pass a lot quicker depending on your attitude towards them and then come with less force in the future. I once helped a lady who used to get very frustrated about having bad days out of the blue. With some advice she emailed me and said her new attitude on a bad days was ‘Well my anxiety is high today, but so what’ she knew she could not control it, so she might as well get on with her day and not care even though the feelings were not too good. She still disliked the feelings, but she had stopped getting so frustrated, stopped the self pity, the need to figure out why and her setback did not seem as bad.
I hope the above helps, I am not asking you to like a setback, just try and change your attitude towards them, they do come less frequent and with less power in time, just remember that they are part of of the recovery process, it is a mind and body healing in its own way, in its own way and time, it can’t be controlled or rushed. But they always pass, so don’t let them get you down or pay them too much respect. Tomorrow could be the best day yet.