About two months ago I started writing down the problems I still had with getting things done. I'd done it many times before so this was nothing new - trying to look at them, as a list and a flow diagram - how different parts of the problem interact and cause each other. I think I did this in the car during a work break actually. I have a note book on me all the time and my introspection goes upside-down in the back.
If you look at the picture you can see that I identified 6 different factors. I'd been aware of them for a long time but this time the way they work seemed especially clear
3 of them (1,2 and 6) seem like basal causes - 6. the physiological (tiredness, allergies, migraines etc), 1. the psychological/neurological (something like dyspraxia) and 2. parental/historical/sociological learned stuff - working class pessimism and anxiety etc (sorry the numbers are in the order I worked them out, not in order of importance or origin)
The flow diagram shows (top left) me trying to get going in the morning and the things that get in the way and my reactions to them (4,3 and 5)
4. feeling nagged and resisting
3. compulsion (to finish my things) and procrastination
5. anxiety and judgement - how people look at me doing all this and the unhappiness that causes
5 is about people judging me as lazy and 'can't be bothered'. It was the thing I couldn't shake off - that judgement - that I just wasn't trying hard enough - that I should just force myself. I remember in the car later on asking myself if I was really doing absolutely everything I could to get things done, and the answer was obviously not. There's always more that could be done. I've known this to be true for some time. It was the Damning Fact that prevented me accepting myself.
This was when I remembered my old CBT experiences and the importance of compassion, and in particular a sentence I came up with at the time "Often it's the people that screw up the most that deserve the most compassion."
I had previously always assumed that it's only the people that always do absolutely everything they possibly can to get things right that DESERVE compassion, but the truth is we fail all the time - we keep trying but the same old stupid things happen over and over again - with addiction, with over-eating, with money, with relationships, we keep on trying over and over again and we fail over and over again, but we keep on trying.
And it suddenly seemed very obvious to me that the last thing anyone can say about me is that I can't be bothered - that I just don't care. I've always tried so hard and cared so much - maybe too much. The idea that I'm simply lazy just makes no sense at all.
I’ve spent a very long time going over my early life, my childhood events, my parents and school times - trying to make the story as evidence-based and rational as possible (not simply ‘dwelling’ or ‘wallowing’. This is where the scientific approach comes in.) and that makes me as sure as I can be that this is true - I couldn't be so sure of this if I hadn't done that ground work. Simply assuming or believing that I am a valuable person in some vague spiritual way isn't enough for me. Most if not all of us have messages in our heads (I'm useless, I'm ugly, I'm lazy, I'm horrible, I'm stupid) from early on in life that sound ridiculous to other people but which strike deep in our perceptions of ourselves. There really do seem to be some bad people out there and the fear that we can’t shake off is that we might really be among them.
So I've messed up over and over again, and I still do. I'm never going to be a punctual, organised, energetic, socially adept sort of person. I'm probably always going to have those three things (tiredness, 'dyspraxia' and working class pessimism) But I'm not lazy - I'm not a 'can't be bothered' kind of person - and knowing that, deep down Knowing, is the thing, and I know it's right because I haven't had to keep on telling myself like some sort of confidence-building positive-thinking mantra. It's not a rationalisation or a comforting story (they never work). As soon as I knew it, it fitted, and now it's there in my mind. It fits. It's right. And it works.
I've had epiphanies like this before and I know what it's like when I've found the right form of words that fits the old message that fits the feeling. It just clicks into place and it never goes away.