If you ever feel like you operate on auto pilot a lot of the time or live your life in some sort of fog – then I am with you – and this piece might hit home a little too.
I think, for a good many years now, (around 10) that 95% of the time I have been living my life in a fog. Well actually if I am honest – 3 different fogs – each one denser than the last. I have been fighting as hard as I can to live through these and it takes up so much of my energy. It is really not sustainable. Many times over the last 10 years I have struggled badly and on a couple of occasions in particular things were really difficult. At times where the fog is set in, it is hard to navigate my way out and I yearn for some clear sky and some fresh air. Pure Morning – is a song that I turn to in those times. Or even when I am not feeling on top form – it is a song that helps me detach myself from the situation and navigate to that clear sky. Now, Pure Morning is a song that is about coming down from a high and watching the world around you go about a normal day whilst you feel detached from everything. Take the drugs or the high out of the equation and that is certainly a feeling I know well – I often feel completely detached from the world – and see everyone else being way more successful at living life than I am.
Over the last 12-18 months I have tried numerous tactics to try and combat the fogs that I battle. I believe I have made a lot of progress – but I also know there is a long road ahead. I have done counselling (wasn’t for me), CBT (was pretty good and helped me combat some challenges I was facing), my GP wanted me to go on a variety of drugs (no thank you – just don’t want to go down that road until I have exhausted every other angle – doesn’t mean they are bad / don’t work – it is just a fear I have) and I tried a different type of coaching (had a negative experience with the coach). However, I have also read some good books (thanks to friends suggestions), I have found a coach that works very well for me, I have started to understand more about my brain and I have really become wise to the affect people have on me – so increased my filters to ensure only the right people are involved in my life. I think it takes that. It takes a lot of trial and error to find the right methods for you – as not everything works for everyone. I also identified the fogs that were affecting me and broke them down as they each have their own nuances.
Myself. This is by far the biggest battle for me. This is a thick fog situation. I have, over the years, lost confidence in who I am. I regain it from time to time when I have a Pure Morning, but most of the time I just don’t know. If I had to stand up and explain myself and my character I wouldn’t know what to say. I think, over time, I have just let negativity make me question everything about me to the point where I don’t believe anything positive existed in the first place. I also really hate how I look. I am overweight – but I see myself as the biggest ugliest person to have existed – and I avoid photos and mirrors as much as I can. It is an extreme reaction and probably not helpful but that is how I feel.
That is the situation. So what is the goal. The goal is to restore some self belief. I think, deep down, I know what I am capable of – and I know what my personality can do for me – and where it can get me. I just need to release it. I also need to find a way of unlinking my mental frailties and my struggles to lose weight. They are directly linked. Food is my comfort and an ally – and I don’t see myself combatting that challenge until my mental side is addressed and in a more positive place.
I do know I am making progress here. I see green shoots of recovery. I see my personality coming out in certain circumstances but I am not sure I believe it enough to really let it out fully. I think people close to me want me to let it out – I think they like me and what I bring – I think I have some desirable qualities – but I do not quite have the belief to exist like that at this stage. But I am further forward than I was a few months ago – so that is good news – and it will also be a work in progress.
“Friends” The ” says a lot. This is the fog where I have made most progress but I still need to be wary. This is a slightly foggy day but the sun is burning it off. Because I am overloaded with empathy and because I have limited self belief, I allow myself to be taken advantage of. Over the years, this has probably happened at least 50 times with different people. I don’t mean someone not meeting up when they said they would or anything like that – I mean people taking me for money, calling in big favours that end up costing me time and money or not pulling through for me when they assured me they would be there. Now, this is an area that has been worked on a significant amount. I have reduced my circle of trust and only a few people are in it. I have also realised that I don’t need hundreds of friends – that different people should be allowed different levels of access to me and what I bring to the equation as a friend. I have the people close to me to thank for that – they have led me on a positive journey that I am very grateful for.
The goal for this fog. Fairly simple. Reduce the number of days where I feel vulnerable to being taken for a ride. Instead of being conscious about people and being on guard, make that an unconscious skill so I don’t waste too much energy on it anymore.
“Professional Skills” This one is thick fog in patches with some clear areas. Again some progress has been made but I have crippling doubts about my abilities and what I bring to the table – to the point where there are days where I cannot face getting on simple calls. The strange thing here – is that all of these doubts are not on the most stressful side of my work – dealing with clients. That is where the patches are clear – where I am at my most comfortable – and I thrive. The last 18 months have been so hard for me because I cannot do what I do best – get in front of my clients and build rapport and opportunities. The fog exists where it shouldn’t. I don’t fit in with a large % of my peers and colleagues – I feel like an outsider and that I am constantly singing from a different hymn sheet – and what’s more – I feel like that hymn sheet is the wrong hymn sheet so then I get embarrassed and withdraw even more into myself. Again, I feel this is linked to my confusion about myself – who I am and what I am capable of. I do not connect with any positives that are said about me – in fact when something positive is said I get a weird sensation, a physical feeling like an electric shock travelling down the centre of my body. I seem to have created such a harsh filter that I do not let anything positive through – even when they are there – yet the slightest negative hits me hard and stays with me for a long period of time.
The goal here is to figure out how to stop that filter having such an impact and getting my mojo back – so the feeling I get with my client work – is replicated internally.
I think the 3 fogs can all be linked to self esteem and how I see myself on some level. I know that is a real problem – but is unfortunately where my head sits at the moment. It is a huge burden – but it has become a little lighter over the months. That work needs to continue and I need to make sure I retain the level of consciousness that I have developed over the last few months.
In the endless battle of person versus brain over the last few weeks – I would say no one has won – let’s call it a draw. Which in itself is progress because the brain always wins.
Onwards with my fight for more of those Pure Mornings.