poem: late night thoughts

Late night thoughts. Creeping up, taking over,

On the edge of the day.

Getting in my head and giving me nothing good to say.

What’d I do to deserve this?

Have you even heard this?

“You’re not good enough. You’re not perfect.”

“You’re a bad person – and you know it.”

For those messed-up thoughts you had one time,

Now they’re rising to the surface.

If anyone knew, what’d they think?

You’d probably be thrown in the furnace.

Red-hot pain. You deserve this.

But wait, my therapist told me there’s nothing wrong with me.

These thoughts don’t belong to me.

They’ve just attached to me.

But actually,

I’m attached to them. What’s the difference?

Does anyone know what happens in this instance?

I feel tired, I feel drowsy,

But I can’t stop myself from browsing,

On those sites that don’t do good for me,

They ain’t good for me.

Can’t you see?

Just like those thoughts I get which aren’t me.

I know what Selena meant when she sang “It Ain’t Me”.

If it was up to me,

I’d lock them away.

Never to be opened again – no way,

Making no appearance on another day.

Self-doubt. Criticism. Anxiety. Looks and body.

Throw them all away,

Replace ‘em with a new hobby.

These bad thoughts, they just aren’t me.

I don’t deserve ‘em, I don’t think.

Lived a good life without any chinks,

And I don’t mean to kick up no stink,

But I’m replacing these thoughts with new ones I like,

Ones that serve me better,

Ones that are helpful to write.

You are good. You are strong,

You’re good-looking and you do belong.

You’re not strange, or insincere.

You have no fear.

The type that stops you in your tracks,

Doesn’t let you relax,

Stresses you out to the max.

These are the facts.

Good vibes attract,

The girls you once lacked.

(And the ones you still lack – but no one needs to know that).

In those clubs that were packed,

Guys somehow grinding on their backs,

Whites, Asians and Blacks,

They got the knack,

Dunno how they do that.

But really, I don’t want that.

Getting with a girl I don’t even know yet.

Tryna seduce her for some stupid bro’s bet.

I’d rather get,

A girl that knows me,

Knows who I am and digs me,

Has seen the good, the bad and the ugly.

Wants to be with me, grow with me,

Wants to show me,

How not to be lonely and be comfortable in each other’s company.

At the same time giving us time and space,

To still be each other.

Living our lives well and with each other,

Don’t always have to be near each other.

But will forgive each other,

Dig each other,

Kiss each other and miss each other.

There’ll be no other woman I love so much,

Except for my mother.

This girl will get along with her and my brother,

That’s all I want. That’s what I desire.

Why does it feel like my heart’s on fire?

I don’t wanna be a crier.

I wanna inspire. Reach higher, be better,

Don’t have to be a famous jet-setter.

I think I’ll put all this in a letter,

And send it to the girl I want,

And then hopefully we can be together,

Forever.

– – – – –

Written by,

Jas

✏ Saturday, 31 March 2018 @ 3.22pm

👀 Read more poetry here.

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Living as a highly sensitive person (HSP)

Some time after I came across Susan Cain’s infamous TED Talk and realised I was an introvert, the notion of ‘high sensitivity’ came to my attention. Hmm, this sounds like me too, I thought. I think I came across some articles and blogs online which alluded to this ‘highly sensitive’ thing, before I stumbled across Dr. Elaine Aron, who is credited with beginning the study of the inate temperament trait of high sensitivity (in 1991).

 

HSP
credit: Zaimful

 

She also developed a test for high sensitivity, which seemed to confirm my hunch that I was, indeed, a highly sensitive person. You can find the test here.

I had always known that I was a pretty sensitive guy, to some extent. However, it seems that I’m learning more and more about this as time goes on. I’ve always been highly empathetic, can relate to anyone and know how to connect and put them at ease, and generally read people well. I get this hunch or intuitive feeling about people which I can’t logically explain.

During a family trip to rural Sweden, for about a week we were on the road visiting various places. This meant a lot of time spent together in close quarters in the car. Coupled with this, and the fact that the same couple of CDs were playing on loop the whole time (even when I mixed it up a little with my iPod), it just got too much for me. I think I yelled out or erupted or something, I can’t quite remember. My family lovingly refer to this incident as “the time Jas had a meltdown in Sweden”. Turns out I was just over-stimulated; it had been building and then couldn’t be held in any more.

I’ve also realised how my high sensitivity can come into play when I’m out and about in public. For example at the gym, where I go most days. Even after having gone for about 10 years, I still find myself constantly looking around me at the other guys and girls in my vicinity. Whether it’s comparing myself to other guys, or checking out other girls (hopefully with subtlety!), or just wanting to know who’s around. I’ve certainly gotten better at this, and just being present in my own space and focusing on my own workout. But it feels like I’m constantly alert. (I think my social anxiety and body-related issues also come into play here).

In some ways, perhaps this is quite a usual thing. To be on the treadmill or whatever machine, and just glance around. However, it can be exhausting and certainly isn’t always ideal to say the least.

(Also: look out for a ‘the people I avoid in the gym’ post which I should be uploading soon).

One of the things I’m aware of, and working on, is the judgement of others and the assumed judgement of others (i.e. the thoughts about myself that I project onto others, and therefore they think they have of me). Recently (at time of writing), for example, I’ve realised that I’ve been avoiding speaking to friends and family, for the fear that the ‘work question’ will come up in conversation, and that I will feel embarrassed and judged and sh*tty.

e.g. I spoke to one of my best friends on the phone last night, and I spent the whole call trying to be funny and entertaining, all the while trying to keep the conversation going and dictating it. I’ve felt bad at ignoring calls / not responding to his messages in the past (I’m actually supposed to be giving him a call as I write this!), and we had to cut the call short (which I was kinda pleased with),  I sent him a website link soon after and made a joke about it. It’s like I’m constantly trying to keep this facade up, and not direct any unwanted attention towards me.

I feel that all of this links in some way to my high sensitivity. Don’t get me wrong, I feel that there are benefits, too. The ability to feel deeply and connect so well/so much with others can be a wonderful gift, and I also feels it translates to my writing, too.

Also, I know that my body is also sensitive to things like gluten and alcohol. In a way I’m glad that I get/feel a response to these things, as it means I’m aware of my body trying to tell me something, rather than abusing my body slowly over time without my realising it.

Understand my sensitivity, and continuing to do so, has been key in learning how best to look after myself and be kinder towards myself. Thinking about it, I’m sure it also contributed to my actions/hyperactivity that I felt when I went a little crazy that weekend

What about you? 🤷🏽‍♂️
Are you a highly sensitive person, or do you suspect you might be ‘on the scale’? I’d love to hear how HSP-living is for you… 💙

My inner critic

 

critical voice
credit: johnhain

The ‘inner critic’. I’d heard about it a lot, and read about it in articles on the internet, as well as in books like Steven Pressfield’s, The War of Art. For a long time I have been aware of my lack of self-belief and my self-doubt, and just thought that this must be how it is for all of us.

As it turns out, my inner critic casts a stronger shadow than I was aware of. My therapist, who I’ve now had 8 sessions with (at time of writing), is an integrative psychotherapist who likes to use art and creativity in her practice. Her room is warm, bright and accommodating, and scattered around the place are all sorts of weird and wonderful objects, from cuddly animals through to pine cones, lego figures and different coloured feathers and shells.

In one of my first sessions with her, I was asked to pick out an object that best represented this critical voice of mine. I chose this cute little monkey with a kinda sad/awkward/uncertain expression on its face.

At the start of each session, there he is in that same spot on the sofa, looking my way. Sometimes, I forget he’s there.

She then asks me questions like “What does this (the critical voice) sound like?” I’ll be honest, it doesn’t even appear to have a distinct voice, as such. It seems to be just ‘my’ voice, and that’s even if you can even describe it was a voice. It’s just in my head, merged with my thoughts.

Apparently, over time, such negative chatter can become more entrenched, and I expect that this is what must have happened. That’s my guess, anyhow.

Now this voice means well, it worries about me and it cares about me, but it doesn’t always act in my best interests. It can be stifling, overwhelming, overbearing, causing me to question e-ver-y-thing.

Am I doing the right thing here? Is this what I’m supposed to be doing? Will this just be another thing I start and don’t complete? Am I capable of this? Do I deserve to be happy? That last one is especially potent, and I find it can slowly creep up on me as this intrusive, paranoid though that emerges and sees me question whether I am a good, decent human being who deserves happiness, a life that I enjoy, and things to just “work out”. This can sometimes happen after I’ve had a good day or something good in my life has happened, as if it’s attempting to counteract and sabotage this – and a sense of “Is this good experience I’m having too good to be true?” can arise?

For example, the whole ‘work’ situation feels like it’s weighed on me for a significant portion of my adult life; when I was choosing a course for university, when I then picked another…only to dropout. And then re-apply, and drop-out again. And then falling into a job, and then 5 years later going back to study, and then trying my own thing, and then taking a year out, and now attempting to get into book publishing after a lot of considered thought and reflection.

Starting over, again. It feels like this pattern of constant worry/anxiety, jumping into something – and then failing or it otherwise not working out. Rinse, repeat. My 5-year sales career (can you even call it that?) was the closest I’ve had to any consistency when it comes to work, even though I knew from the outset that that wouldn’t be “it”.

On some level, I am afraid that I won’t ever find something I am truly content in. That I’ll continue to be pained by this constant state of fear, and doubt, and yearning for more.

I am already aware that I am a people-pleaser, and that I care about how others perceive. That said – I have come in leaps and bounds in this area of my life of late #proudofme. I’ve left social media several times due to it becoming all-consuming, overwhelming, and even feeling paranoid that people I know are watching my every move and seeing me fail out in the open. That I left my job and have since crashed and burned. That I’m almost 29, living at home, and feel like an irresponsible adult who sometimes can’t look after himself properly and has a lot of growing up to do.

There it is again, loud and clear. That critical voice. It’s amazing how, a lot of the time, I don’t even realise that he’s there, the b*stard. Unaware of what he’s even saying and the impact he’s having on me. Like I said before, it doesn’t feel like a voice, rather just my thoughts.

By getting to know him better, by facing him head-on, and talking and writing about him, I hope to recognise him even more and – in the process – reduce the hold he has over me. I acknowledge that he is there, but realise how much him to take at face value.

After all, I am not my critical voice, just like I am not my thoughts. He does not control me. Not if I don’t let him. And, with time, my own voice will be heard above his. And that will be the very opposite of critical. It will be loving, and kind, and compassionate, and resolute.

And courageous.

✏ Written: Wednesday, 7th March 2018 @ 1.24pm

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What about you? 🤷🏽‍♂️
Do you have a critical voice, or an ‘inner critic’? Does it sound like a voice, or something else? What impact does he/she/it have on you? It’s always so lovely to hear your perspectives 💙