Trauma is not the event(s) that happened to you, it’s how you are affected by those events.
Every noise, every touch, the stones beneath my feet, the splash of fountains from a window, crept evilly upon my senses. The air had a stinging weight like ocean waves. I felt myself a stranger to the world.
The traditional way of creating a vision board is to create one that contains images and affirmations for your future self. If, however, your Inner Critic is likely to beat you up for not doing the things on your vision board, or even tell you you’ll never do those things, it might be better to create a different kind of vision board. In this article, I’ll show you the one I made and I’ll share some different ways of using vision boards.
Unlike New Year Resolutions, a year review can make you feel good about yourself and give you a stable base for what you’d like to have happen in the coming year. Resolutions can trigger your Inner Critic, especially if you don’t fulfil them, for whatever reason. Feeling crap about not doing your resolutions can spiral into negative self-talk about other areas of your life. You could end up feeling unmotivated or worse, depressed. So, here’s a way to feel great about 2019 and build a solid base for what you’d like for 2020!
I’m being swept along in a fast flowing river. When my head is above the river I feel afraid and I grab at things. If I stop struggling and let myself go with it, what happens? It feels better, less tiring than struggling. I can look around for rocks and try to avoid them using my hands. I can take deep breaths and put my head under to see what it’s like. When my head is below, in the river it’s easier to go around obstacles. I can swim. If only I could breathe under the river so I didn’t have to stick my head above so often.
There are big bubbles under the river. I swim over to one and stick my nose in it; there is air in there! I suck it in and slowly let it out until I see the next bubble. Now I notice there are different kinds of flows, like streams within the river; some are faster, some slower. I experiment by moving from one to another. The faster one is exhilarating and the slower one feels gentle.
Fish swim by me and look surprised by my presence; I wave at them and they scurry away. Then one stays close and watches me. It mirrors me. Soon we are laughing together, going fast, then slow, over and over again. The fish asks my name and tells me his is Simon. He’s never met one of whatever I am before and is really enjoying the experience. Me too.
How we talk to ourselves has a direct relationship to how we feel and what we do. This has been documented in psychological research (see references below) and there is a correlation between self criticism and feeling crap. You can see for yourself how true this is by paying attention to your inner voice. If your inner voice is hard to notice at first in daily life, you could pick an activity that you’d like to be able to do well, but haven’t clocked up the hours yet to be able to do well in it. It could be drawing or painting or parkour, for example.
To not conform to social expectation and norms can generate a profound sense of isolation and alienation
Rebecca Greenslade (2018)
Not Conforming to Social Norms Can Also Feel Free and Refreshing
The first year (2009) I didn’t buy Christmas presents for friends and family it felt kind of Grinch-like, but also refreshing. I was free from the expectation that had been laid on me by my ancestors. The funny thing was my Grandma hated Christmas but continued to buy presents, decorate a tree and cook incredibly large amounts of food for the festivities. When I asked her why she did it, she grimaced and said something about just getting on with it. Yes, social norms can be incredibly powerful but I wasn’t with my family that first year, so I rejoiced in my new found freedom. I had more time and energy without the worry of what to get for each person.
This time last year I was working on converting my van into a camper at my fab friend, Margaret’s, house. We’d already been eating our way through the vegan mince pie stock from the Sainsbury’s Local nearby since October. I love Christmas food! It’s one of the few things about Christmas I love. My favourite food is a yummy vegan nut roast with all the trimmings. This year we’ve been boycotting Sainsbury’s mince pies because they use palm oil but I still need my early Christmas food fix.
Last night was the anniversary of my dad’s suicide in 1980. Most years I just ignored it and tried to carry on, but this year I decided to do a letter writing ritual. My ‘letter’ turned out to be a piece of expressive art as I followed my intuition and did what I needed to do throughout the process.