Acknowledging your growth

If you’re a naturally pessimistic person like me, it’s easy to be stuck in your ways and only look at the bad days. I’ve had a pretty rough week. Our boiler died, I had to work long days unexpectedly and my health problems had been acting up. (although those were slowly improving as the week went on.)
When you have a week like that, where nothing seems to go right, it can be easy to focus on those negative emotions and forget how much growth you went through to get to this point.

When I was teaching in special education last year, I tried helping one of my students with some advice my psychologist tried to impart on me, but I never really followed up on it properly. He wasn’t coming to school often, and whenever something different was going on (PE, some event, a different teacher), he’d get anxious and stay home ill. I remember doing similar things as a child, but to a much lesser extent. The advice I gave him, which he started following, was to get a journal. Write down everything that went well in that journal. It seems silly, which is why I never really did it, but now that I’m older it’s easy to acknowledge that the good gets forgotten while the bad gets held on to. So he would write down that he came to school, his classes went fine, he passed a test, he didn’t stay home, he went to PE that one time, and slowly but surely things seemed to go a bit easier. Things don’t always improve in a straight line, which makes relapsing so easy.
So let’s take a look at last week and acknowledge my growth that I presented during this week.

For starters, work. I was supposed to work three hours on Wednesday. While I had an appointment on Tuesday I was assigned extra work for Wednesday and by the time I read my voicemail, the planning people had gone home already and I could technically still decline the work, but it would have been a whole thing. So I decided to just suck it up and work extra. I wasn’t happy about it, and it definitely ruined my mood, but when I was done I went home, played some games and calmed down again. No severe anxiety, no panic attacks, just a bad day that ended. 

When the boiler maintenance guy came I opened the door and answered the questions he had. I used to ask my dad to stay home for these things since I’m an extremely anxious person and I don’t know anything about the state of our boiler. I’m a lot more confident in situations where I know my stuff, but if I need to talk about something I don’t know I start sweating waterfalls. But I didn’t ask my dad to stay home for this, and instead dealt with it on my own. Unfortunately the boiler broke during maintenance, since it’s super old, and they had to order a new part for the next day. I didn’t freak out but properly communicated with the guy, and then with my dad, to make sure everything would be sorted. I took a cold shower after work and instead of getting sad and anxious about it I just laughed it off and warmed up at the small space heater.

And lastly my physical health. There’s not much to say about it really. I just told myself it would be okay and eventually it got okay. I still don’t feel well per se, but I feel a lot better. Last time I had these problems it took me months to recover and I have countless sleepless nights. This time I just trusted my doctor, chugged some ibuprofen and played some games to distract myself. I still slept poorly because pain doesn’t magically go away if you don’t think about it, but it was infinitely worse last time.

And the important thing about all of this is that I couldn’t have done this in the past. It may have been a bad week, and my responses may not have been perfect, but I recovered, and I’m not taking a moment to acknowledge my growth. If you’re like me, and you have many issues, stress and anxieties in your life, take a moment to acknowledge those improvements. They can be small, they can be large, but I can say with confidence that everyone who acknowledges their own shortcomings will become a better person over time. You just have to keep going at it. There’s no shame in being weak, just take your time and grow at your own pace. Life isn’t a race, it’s about you and what you want to accomplish. Bring happiness to yourself and bring happiness to others. That way you’ll always be stronger than you think. Thanks for reading.

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