I’ve been considering recently my tendency for “overthinking”. Generally I consider my ability for hyperfocus and attention to detail to be one of my talents. However I have to watch out for when it becomes aimless, pointless, unproductive obsessing. I become stuck on a loop going nowhere. I can’t pull away, although I’m irritated by it. It’s compulsive; scrolling through Facebook, or conducting an in depth analysis of the price of folding chairs. Obsessing about a decision to the extent that I’m paralysed by choices. It’s so easy to lose hours of my life. The difference in quality is striking compared to when I’m driven to learn or to create. Words write themselves, streaming out faster than I can get them down. I have to jump on the train while it’s moving and can’t stop until it’s complete. Or I spend hours studying and researching something to understand it so deeply I’m inside it. It’s not the extent of thought and focus that’s the issue, but the purpose and meaning that makes the difference.

Raw motivation fluttering free
Scrabbling around for identity
Looking for a hook, sinking into line
Looking for a meaning that’s truly mine

Words drift around with Brownian motion
Flounder like small fry in the ocean
Darting like tadpoles frying my brain
Got to get it down or go insane

© Janey Colbourne 2015

Criticism and Personal Growth

It’s sometimes the case that people who come across as arrogant are actually pretty insecure inside. They have built this edifice, this armour of protection, to hide how they see themselves as inadequate. They cannot bear criticism, it smashes down the wall of pretence and leaves them raw. They believe that they have been spotted for the inadequate, waste of space they think they are. What they don’t realise is that we are none of us perfect and we don’t have to be, or to pretend that we are. Criticism can be taken as a personal attack on our whole being, a judgement that we are not good enough and never will be, or it can be taken as a useful reflection. We can consider it with some courage and honesty with ourselves and decide whether it is accurate, whether it resonates in us. There is a world of difference between constructive criticism of our actions or attitudes that may be harmful to ourselves or others and the destructive type of criticism that is a subtle form of abuse, that wears down our sense of self and our confidence. It is important to distinguish between the two before we decide what action to take. We are not helpless and unable to change. One of the most significant characteristics that has made humanity such a successful species is our ability to adapt and change. One could almost say it defines us. Being able to make changes and grow is a natural and positive skill. It does not have to threaten our identity, in fact it can enhance it. We can grow into ourselves and be happier than ever.

© Janey Colbourne 2015

Holding Space

Oftentimes when we are struggling with life what we really need is someone to “hold the space”. What this means is someone being there and listening attentively and non-judgementally, allowing us to be ourselves and talk through our problems. This may allow us to come to a solution ourselves, or at least to not feel alone, to feel supported, understood and accepted. It is clear that the listener can cope, emotions are not a threat. We have confidence in them and trust that we can be open. Reflecting and paraphrasing what we say and putting words to our emotions shows that they have understood and can allow us to see our issues more clearly. In an ideal world our parents do this for us as we grow up. We feel validated, we learn in an environment that fosters self-esteem because we are loved. True active listening makes us feel supported while allowing us to work through issues ourselves. Finding our own solutions makes us feel empowered and capable. This is a skill we can carry into adult life. We feel confident that we can solve our problems. When our parents have not been able to do this enough for us we have to adapt and we may seek support in other forms or from other people, sometimes in destructive or unhealthy ways. It may be difficult for us to be confident and independent in a healthy way and develop self managing skills. We may find support from some friends or other family members who are skilled in this way. Person-centred counselling is a way that people can receive this type of support, although it takes effort and courage to work through the effects the lack of support has had on our worldview and achievements in life. Spiritual practices such as meditation or yoga can help us to find our inner resources to develop our coping skills. We can create a safe space within ourselves. When we have this need met we are able to hold space for others.