A WALKING REFLECTION

Self-reflection is a powerful tool for personal growth. For me, self-reflection has become an important part of my life journey and mental health. The practice allows my brain the opportunity to press pause on the hustle and bustle of life, to unravel and shift through interactions and experiences, and to consider my actions and words. By doing so, I can examine and learn from them and therefore, challenge myself to be a better person. In saying this, self-reflection is not always an easy practice.

Self-reflection can bring forth uncomfortable truths. For some, it’s your ego that helps to protect you from unwanted feelings and thoughts and keeps your fragile identity intact. It makes peeling back those layers of yourself difficult, especially if you don’t like what you find. It can feel unpleaseant and vulnerable to open yourself up for self-critism, but increasing self-awareness and achieving personal development and growth is a worthwhile goal.

I started the practice of consciously considering and analysing my actions and emotions when I began this blog. In essence, this blog is my journal where I reflect on the past week’s events and express my feelings and thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, self-reflection sometimes feels like I’m beating myself up over something I said or did. But once I get over the initial feelings and look deeper into the whys and hows, I get to a point where I can begin to understand and learn. And I believe self-awareness is a gift worth giving to myself.

So… I’ll give you an example of some recent self-reflection that I did. 

On the weekend, I took the children to see their uncle at the park for a picnic for the first time since this sixth lockdown started almost two months ago. I think we’ve been under lockdown for 270 days since this pandemic began back in 2020. With easing of restrictions and because my brother lives within 10 KM of us, we were legally allowed to meet up. 

My younger brother reminds me a lot of what I was like in my younger years – a bit rash, brimming with confidence, and somewhat temperamental. He’s also incredibly fit. Remember how I wrote about him being my personal trainer for a while? Anyway, lockdown has changed him. He’s not as fit as he used to be. In fact, he suggested, like it was a great idea, for us to drive the car 100 metres down the street so that we would be nearer to the cafe where we were going to get hot drinks. He wanted to save us 100 metres from the 500 metre walk. Obviously, I told him that he was being a ninny and to walk it.  

Later when I relayed the story of my brother being so lazy that he wanted to save 100 metres of walking to my husband, he gave me a look of disbelief.

He replied with, “Who does that remind you of?”

Our 8-year-old daughter chimed in with, “You always want Daddy to park close to the shops!”

Our 4-year-old son reiterated with, “Yeah Mummy!”

Upon a bit of FORCED self-reflection, I admitted to them and myself that I probably couldn’t really laugh at my brother seeing as I do the same thing. You see, sometimes it’s not easy to see your limitations and it can be even harder to admit there are parts of you that could be improved. 

So next time, when my husband parks really, REALLY, far away from where we should be, I’ll endeavour to remember the time I ridiculed my brother, and bite my tongue because a bit of walking never hurt anyone. 

Copyright © 2021, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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SETBACK IS NOT FAILURE

I’ve been off social media and blogging since mid June. I took a short break after I felt my mental health suffer from the constant negative news of COVID-19 and the re-emergence of a second wave of the virus where I live. Many things have happened during my sabbatical – some funny, some embarrassing and a few not so great. I’ll start at the beginning; the moment that prompted my temporary absence.


Reflection from 26/06/20 – prior to the second wave of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown.

For the last six months, I’ve been feeling happy and mentally healthy. I’ve worked on improving social connections, reducing social anxiety and negativity, and lessening the need for control. ‘Let It Go’ has become my new mantra. In fact, not long ago, I suggested to my doctor that perhaps I had reached the stages of maintenance or recovery. Yesterday, I had a humbling reminder that achieving good mental health is an ongoing journey and setbacks can happen. In actuality, setbacks are part of the recovery.

Late in the afternoon, seemingly out of nowhere, I started experiencing shortness of breath, coughing and tightness in my chest. It felt like an elephant had nestled down on my sternum. My immediate thought was ‘grab the puffer, it’s an asthma attack’. If I hadn’t panicked and had taken a moment to think, I would have concluded that a random asthma attack while playing a Nintendo game was improbable.

Frantic to alleviate the shortness of breath, I puffed Ventolin like it was going out of fashion. It did nothing but gave me the shakes and dizziness. You’d think being an ex-pharmacist, I’d be a tad more informed but no, gasping for air must have killed all rational brain cells. My husband suggested I sought medical attention and question possible COVID-19 infection.

I was promptly seen at the medical clinic with the doctor checking all of my vitals, including oxygen saturation. When asked what triggered the symptoms, I was at a loss. In the morning, my three-year-old son and I had watched trains past at the nearby train station, played at the local park and had babychinos.

At the time of the attack, we were playing Animal Crossing, making ‘money’ through the sale of harvested fruit. It’s a big loan, two and a half million ‘dollars’ to be exact, so there could be some causality. It’s not completely outside the realm of possibility.

The most likely trigger was the discussion I had with my husband, which had taken place an hour prior to the onset of symptoms. We were deciding whether or not it was in everyone’s best interest to travel almost seven hours to stay with the in-laws amidst the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 infections. It was a mutual agreement to can the trip.

The doctor gave me two options; go to the emergency department for oxygen nebulisation and get checked for COVID-19, blood clots and asthma or stay in the clinic’s treatment room for observation after taking a Valium for a suspected panic attack. I countered with ‘I think I’ll just walk it off. Uh… or go home and rest.’ In the end, I reluctantly took the Valium and waited in the treatment room for the dizziness, pins and needles, tremors and chest tightness to dissipate.

As I sat on the treatment bed, several nurses came in and out of the room to gather medical supplies and asked why I was there. I felt embarrassed having to repeatedly admit that I had suffered a panic attack and as a result, hyperventilated. I also felt ashamed for occupying a treatment room and wasting the doctor’s time, who could have attended to patients with ‘real’ problems. Stupid, right?

Instead of accepting it for what it was – a panic attack, I let the experience colour my interpretation of my self-worth. I failed. Therefore, I am a failure. I allowed myself to believe that falsehood.

That internal dialogue of mine can be cruel and critical, making me proficient at self-sabotage. I’m quite the high-achiever in that regard. I have such a negative perception of myself that every time I am faced with challenges or a setback, I am quick to accept defeat.

Ironically, I am fast to point out to others the importance of being kind to yourself and owning and valuing your truth. It’s high time I heed my own advice.

Copyright © 2020, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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