Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Closing post

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
Winston Churchill

After much pondering, I’ve decided to close the Insightings blog for now. The main reason is that if I don’t, I’ll keep expending energy on thinking I should write something, and I’m trying to get rid of any unnecessary shoulds in my life. Because, to be honest, it’s not like I’ve been putting a lot of energy into actually writing the blog during the past few months or years.

This blog has served an important purpose, though. For the few years when I did post regularly, I had a platform to wonder at the world from a perspective that was purely my own. I had a chance to hone my blogging voice and work on feeling all right with sharing things about my life and my thoughts.

I also had a chance to figure out why I write in the first place: is it for my own benefit or that of someone else. I’ve had the good fortune of having some wonderful people comment on my posts, although the majority of my posts have gone uncommented. I’ve done major internal work on the whole “how could I ever have something original to say when everything has already been said so many times” issue, and that work is far from over. For now, though, the Insightings blog has run its course as the platform for that work.

That’s because another reason to close this blog is that I’ve finally gathered enough courage to start blogging in my native Finnish. Having done my high school and most of my university studies in English, there was a time when I’d only ever write in Finnish if I was journaling. I still use English daily when I read books and blogs, do releasing work with the Sedona method, or talk with my friends. However, the barrier of writing in Finnish has been steadily lowering.

I suppose writing in a foreign, albeit familiar, language has served as a way to distance myself from my text and my readers. Now, with enough practice under my belt from this blog, I finally feel secure enough to write about the internal workings of my mind and soul in a language anyone from my social circle can understand. Furthermore, I’ve admitted to myself that even though I’m still fascinated by learning, communication, Shiva Nata and all that jazz, my current interests revolve around personal growth and self-work. And if I want to blog about those topics and my personal process, writing in Finnish creates a sense of authenticity and honesty (see: years of journaling in Finnish) that benefits both me and anyone who might find my texts helpful.

Another reason to switch to writing in Finnish is that the personal growth blogging scene in Finnish is, shall we say, underdeveloped when compared to the English one. I genuinely want to help people see that yes, there are people who struggle with these issues and yes, there are ways to get around the hard parts. I want to help people feel more at home with themselves – the name of my blog, Lupa olla minä, translates to “Permission to be me.” By making that process visible in Finnish, I might be able to help someone who doesn’t read English but needs to find concepts and resources for self-work.

I will leave the archives of my blog online for as long as WordPress will allow them there. For now, though, I won’t be posting any new content. Feel free to comment on the posts, however, and if you want to contact me about the topics I’ve covered you can do that through the comments as well.

Thank you ever so much for being with me on this part of the journey. This will forever be my first blog, and you guys will forever be my first audience. Thank you. ❤

Wishing you all a lifetime of spectacular insightings,

Sari

Advertisements

To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.
Leonard Bernstein

So it’s been, what, a bit more than a year since the last post? Okay, let’s bring you up to speed. We bought a new home, we sold our old home, we renovated the new place while living at my parents’ house. Just as we were packing our stuff to move them into storage from the old place, we found out to our delight that we were expecting a second baby. I finished my MA thesis and graduated before Christmas, just in time to take a breather for a few months before the new guy arrived in late February. Oh, and our daughter turned two, so there is a lot of drama going on around, as she tries to figure out what are things she can and cannot control.

So it feels kind of silly to call it a Tidbit Insightings post, since the past year has brought more than just tidbit changes. On the other hand, as a mom to a two-year-old and a three-month-old, most of my thoughts come in tidbit complexity, so it’s sort of appropriate.

Here goes. 🙂

Writer’s Block Galore

The most obvious thing from the Insightings perspective is that the blog didn’t get any love. But it wasn’t just the blog. I was really struggling with all writing, except with my thesis (fortunately enough). My journal has maybe four entries from the second half of 2011. My online journal on my favorite message board was equally deserted. I couldn’t finish a song lyric I had started in the spring, despite the fact that we had band practice nearly every week.

I’m guessing part of it was due to the pregnancy. I had the same kind of phenomenon happen when I was expecting our first child, but this time it was more pronounced. During the first few months I was so wiped out from needing to sleep all the time, and to top it off there was the whole hiding-the-news-until-the-biggest-risk-of-miscarriage-is-over thing. Doesn’t really foster an atmosphere of sharing.

There was something about the whole time frame, though, that blocked me off from any kind of self reflection, written or otherwise. I didn’t really talk about my feelings or thoughts with anyone except my husband. And since he was struggling with a burnout himself, it was not like he was the best person to figure out if something was wrong.

I don’t know if it’s a symptom of some form of prenatal depression or the cause, but both my pregnancies have been marked by withdrawing from social contact and keeping to myself. The good thing is that the second time around, I was aware of the possibility and could be on the lookout for any symptoms. I did get the phone number for the health center psychologist, in case I wanted to go and chat, but I never went. You know, since I didn’t want to talk to anyone about my personal stuff.

I’ve been rediscovering my writing voice these past few weeks, after the newborn haze has started to lift. And I’m liking it. It’s also a relief to notice that yes, it was a passing thing, and I haven’t completely lost my inclination to write.

Details and distance

Another thing I noticed was that little things in life took on huge meanings. The toddler could drive me nuts in a heartbeat, the hubby would say something wrong and I’d be miserable.

Again, this could be due to pregnancy hormones, fatigue or not reflecting on my life through writing, but somehow things got too close. And things that are closer seem bigger. There was no distance between me and whatever felt like a Huge Deal at the time.

As time has passed, it’s provided me with some of the distance. Writing offers a degree of distance, too, since I have to step back and explain what it was that really happened. Meeting friends and talking to them about stuff might have helped in the moment, but that wasn’t really happening, either (see not-wanting-to-talk-about-my-stuff above).

Finishing things feels great – if there’s something on the other side

Finishing the renovation (almost, since we still don’t have baseboards…) and moving in felt awesome. A beginning of our life in the new home. Finishing the toddler’s room in time for Christmas felt great. A chance for her to transition into her own room.

Finishing the pregnancy and giving birth was great, even though there was the inevitable newborn stage ahead, complete with nights spent soothing a screaming baby and the endless diaper changes. So much easier this time, though, since we already sort of knew what to expect. And babywearing a sleeping newborn might just be the best part of being a new mom.

Graduating, on the other hand, didn’t really feel like anything. It was great to press “PRINT” on the final version of the thesis and take it down to the university, and it felt awesome that my mom and dad got to see me pick up my Master of Arts diploma. But the day-to-day didn’t really change. I was still at home with a toddler, still expecting baby number 2, still not working outside the home.

Maybe the realization will come, at some point, that I’m actually done now. Should I choose to, I can continue with my PhD, but that will have to wait until the kids are old enough for me to work outside the home. Right now, though, it feels like my graduation was the smallest of the endings during the past year, because it was just that. An ending – not a new beginning. And those are rare.

Thank you for reading! I’ll try to reactivate myself here as well, but feel free to browse the archives for some past insightings. And as always, have fun catching your own insightings!

Love,

Sari

On Resistance

Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel towards pursuing it.
Steven Pressfield (The War Of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle)

I just finished reading Steven Pressfield’s The War Of Art that my husband had acquired for our Kindle. (The great thing about having a creative spouse is that I don’t have to get all the here’s-how-to-be-better -literature myself. 😉 ) The book deals with our inner Resistance and gives pointers about how to overcome it.

I didn’t read the book the first time I laid eyes on it because of the whole war analogy in the title. Fortunately, there’s not as much in terms of crushing and beating and violent self-mastery as I was expecting. It’s more along the lines of recognition and necessary precautions. In that sense, it reminds me of Havi’s concept of Monsters, although Havi does have a lot softer approach.

At this moment, the most useful part of the book for me was the insight into recognizing Resistance. Because lemme tell ya, it’s sneaky.

Thesis Resistance

The danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight.
(The War Of Art) 

Come on, you’re practically finished with your analysis. You deserve a break. How about, say, a week? Two weeks? Because you need to let your thoughts percolate before you start writing.

And besides, the categories you are using are pretty inane anyway. See, there are mostly appearances of this one single category. Why would this be interesting to anyone? You’re wasting your time trudging through the analysis, when you could be doing something much more productive and interesting.

You know, there’s really no guarantee that the analysis you’ve done so far is any good. You’re, what, labeling sentences with different categories? How can you be sure that you are using the right criteria for the labels? You really should go back and redo the whole thing, just to be sure. See, another label that you had to change when doing a whole different iteration? How much more proof do you need that you are really not doing this properly?

And even if you do get the labels even ballpark correctly, you still need to find the theory to back it up. Have you been able to do that? No, didn’t think so. It’ll take you hours upon hours of library time, and when will you ever find that, what with the babysitting duties and everything.

You will never. Ever. Ever. Get this done properly. Ever. So why even bother?

Shiva Nata teaching resistance

The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.
(The War Of Art)  

Sure, go ahead, teach Shiva Nata. See if I care. That is, if you can find a single person who wants to learn it. You know how hard it is, and you have trouble keeping up a practice yourself. What are the chances that there are enough people in Finland to warrant one single class of Shiva Nata, let alone a several?

And even if you could find enough people who want to learn it, and enough people who want to sustain the practice, why do you imagine anyone wanting to pay you money for it? There’s a perfectly good DVD they can buy and learn on their own. It’s cheaper, it’s more comprehensive, and it’s done by someone who actually knows what they are talking about.

Where do you come off telling people you know Shiva Nata? It’s not like you’re any good at it, since there’s no such thing as being good at Shiva Nata. You keep picking it up and forgetting all about it – how on earth could you encourage anyone else to sustain the practice?

Because if people do not pick it up after you teach it to them, you have failed. As a teacher, and consequently as a human being. It’s your responsibility to make everyone in this world realize what is in their best interest, and then lead them, step by step, holding their hand, into that magical land of Everything Is Perfect So Nothing Needs To Change.

Whereas if you fail, people have to take responsibility for their own life, their own learning, and their own happiness. And you have to live without that sense of control, and the sense of approval that comes from grateful students.

Resistance to being a Teacher

Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul.
(The War Of Art)  

Teaching in an of itself? No problem. Have been doing it for years. That is, if we’re talking about the act of planning a lesson from predetermined content, getting up in front of a group, and delivering that lesson.

Becoming an English teacher? No problem. Give me a grammar book and a copy of the National Core Curriculum and I’m golden. When I know where the pupils are in terms of their skills, I can craft a lesson that more or less hits the Vygotskian Zone of Proximal Development where sociocultural learning happens.

Becoming a drama teacher? Yikes.

First of all, I’d have to relinquish control of much of the content of the lesson. I’d have to get better at creating the scaffolds that enable the learning. I’d have to take a risk and plunge into the unknown every single working day, every single lesson. It’s either that or I’m playing it safe and denying the pupils their right to learning.

Becoming a Shiva Nata teacher? Geesh.

I’d have to craft a progression of things to teach, and maintain a more challenging personal practice instead of the dabbling I do now. I’d have to get over the preconception that only yoga teachers can teach Shiva Nata. I’d have to admit to myself and the world that yes, I am actually highly intelligent and that is one of the reasons Shiva Nata appeals to me – and one of the reasons that it might not appeal to everyone I meet.

In general, I’d have to accept that to be a Teacher (instead of just teaching something), I will be teaching something that is not already in a book or a manual. I’ll be looking to myself, my own skills and world view, to help my students view the world in a new way. I’ll have to trust that I am an open-minded individual who will not impose their own limitations to their pupils. I’ll have to work to become an even more open-minded individual.

And that, my friends, is almost too scary for words. No wonder I’m going through a wild Resistance rampage as I’m working on my thesis, since it largely revolves around my drama teacher identity.

I can see you now, Resistance. There you are. Holding my biggest fears on a leash, urging them on to tear me apart.

Letting go of Resistance

Funnily enough, two days before I read The War Of Art, I reread a part of The Sedona Method book that deals with letting go of resistance (with a small initial, since it was not personified there). Apparently it’s a theme that I need to be dealing with.

The process that most struck me was that of letting go of resistance to both X and not X. Since if you’re resisting X, you’re probably also resisting not X, or there would be no resistance, just movement to a certain direction.

Case in point: my bedtime.

I didn’t really manage to make any progress in terms of getting to bed earlier, until I found the chapter on letting go of resistance. Here’s what happened.

I was reading the book at 10.30 p.m., so I was acutely in the middle of some resistance.

My resistance to going to bed sounded something like this: “But the book is really really interesting, and besides, when are you ever going to find time to read it if you go to bed now? You know you want to keep reading, and you deserve this time for yourself! You work so hard during the day, with the baby and with your thesis, so come on, relax a bit!”

My resistance to not going to bed, however, sounded like this: “You’re really tired. You should put the book down and stop procrastinating on your bedtime. The longer you stretch the decision to go to bed, the worse you’ll feel tomorrow and the more you’ll beat yourself up. Besides, if you don’t sleep, you won’t have the energy to hang out with the baby tomorrow, and you’ll just feel like a bad mother.”

You can imagine the two aspects of resistance having this discussion until midnight – as has often been the case.

However, when I first welcomed and let go of the resistance to going to bed, and then welcomed and let go of the resistance to not going to bed, I could make the decision based on my actual feelings. And since after the letting go process I almost fell asleep on the couch, the decision was a no-brainer.

So maybe the next step, after clearing out the resistance on my thesis, is to dive into the whole Being A Teacher Conundrum and clear out my resistance to being one and to not being one. Again and again.

Thank you so much for coming over and reading again! I hope this is helpful, in case you are feeling a degree of Resistance towards something. 🙂 And as always, keep catching your own insightings!

Love,

Sari

Moments of letting go

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
Lao Tzu

I wake up at four in the morning to our one-year-old groaning and wailing next to me, half asleep and crawling around. I lay her back down, for the fifth time tonight, rub her belly and hope she falls asleep.

In my mind, I welcome the situation and let go of wanting to change it, wanting to control it, wanting her to sleep.

 

The baby is asleep already, but I’m still awake, thinking about work stuff. There’s a project that I was supposed to have finished already, and I haven’t. There are a thousand loose ends there for me to fix, but I can only work on them when the baby is napping, which comes up to a grand total of three hours a day.

In my mind, I welcome all my feelings and frustrations about the situation and let go of wanting to change it, wanting to figure it out, wanting to push the situation out of existence.

 

Welcome it and let go of wanting to change it. Again and again.

 

Still I lay awake, worrying about my thesis. I’m way behind on my original schedule, as well as on the augmented schedule made after the first two months of delays. The work project is eating up all my time, and the delays mean I have a bunch of additional paperwork to finish so I will be able to graduate in the first place.

Again, I breathe, welcome all my feelings and frustations and fears about the situation. And let go of wanting to change it, to turn back time, to fix my schedule and figure out how to make it work.

 

And then the baby wakes up again. She tosses and turns, kicking me and not settling down.

Again, I welcome my frustration, and my fear of being horrendously tired and unable to work the next day. And let go of wanting to change it.

 

Does it help?

Eventually we both fall asleep. Next morning, I am one step closer to letting my employer know that I really have to focus on my thesis and that I have to set a boundary to my work tasks. I am one step closer to working on the thesis, if even for a few minutes.

And even if the baby repeats the same dance for the next hundred nights, I am one step closer to the first time she sleeps through the night. Without having a nervous breakdown in the middle of the night, no less.

Thank you for stopping by. I will now attempt to get some sleep before the baby wakes up at four a.m. again. 🙂

Love,

Sari

Scaffolding

scaffold (n)
1: a temporary or movable platform for workers (as bricklayers, painters, or miners) to stand or sit on when working at a height above the floor or ground; a platform on which a criminal is executed (as by hanging or beheading); a platform at a height above ground or floor level
2: a supporting framework
(Merriam-Webster)

Our baby daughter is learning how to walk. By herself, she can take about four to five steps before she topples over. For a few weeks now, though, she’s been whizzing around our apartment, supporting herself against furniture, walls, the occasional parent that stands nearby. Pretty much anything that can offer her some vertical support while she trains her balance.

She’s intuitively making use of scaffolding.

It’s a central concept in the socio-cultural theories of learning, most of which are influenced by the work of Lev Vygotsky. Vygotsky’s grand thing was the thought that whatever a person learns to do by herself, she first has to learn how to do with the help of others.

Vygotsky coined the term “Zone of Proximal Development” or ZPD for short, which is the level of skill where one can perform the task with help but not yet on their own. Scaffolding, then, is the social help coming from peers or teachers that enables the learner to perform the task.

Granted, our daughter is mainly using non-social scaffolds when she zooms past me, holding on to the couch, but when I’m holding her hand to support her, it’s a classic case of ZPD in action.

I started thinking about the concept on my way back from band practice last weekend. Whenever I get out of the house all alone, I indulge by listening to TED talks or other podcasts on my iPod. The one that got me thinking about the topic was the TED talk by Deb Roy about his research into how his infant son learned to talk.

He mentions an interesting finding during the talk. Immediately before a child learns a specific word, her caregivers start to use that word in very simple contexts, easing the child onto the level of being able to use the word. What that means is the caregivers appear to subconsciously detect when the child is getting proficient enough in her approximation of the word, and then they react to what they detect.

That’s one heck of a scaffolding system.

As a future teacher, scaffolding is a very interesting concept, not least because of the critical element of timing.

If you hold the hand of a baby learning to walk, and you don’t let go even when she could already perform the task herself, you are not scaffolding her. You are doing the baby a disservice.

If you are a teacher who hears pupils discussing amongst themselves while performing a task and offer uninvited answers, you’re not scaffolding them. You are doing them a disservice.

Scaffolding is all about listening and perception. Furthermore, it’s about allowing a certain amount of uncertainty from the learner. The fraction of a second that the baby stands up unassisted and sways back and forth is not necessarily a sign she is about to fall over. It might be her way of adjusting her balance and getting ready to take the next step.

Similarly, the question from the pupil and the hesitation might not signal that they are about to abandon the task. More often than not, it’s a way for them to think aloud, to activate the part of the mental network that contains the answer.

Besides, if you always keep supporting and scaffolding the learner, when will you ever know that they have passed the ZPD and are able to perform the task on their own?

Thank you for stopping by! There’ll be a short break in posting, as we’re heading off to beautiful Munich for the weekend to see our friends, but I’ll be back here, posting about the wonderful Central Europe insightings sooner than you think! And while you’re waiting, why not comment or subscribe? 🙂

Love,

Sari

I do not recall spending long hours in front of a mirror loving my reflection.
Gene Tierney

Embarrassment.

That’s the main reason I have yet to finish my MA thesis.

Sure, there are some other minor factors involved, including the baby and a work project. Still, I’m the type of person who gets things done when she wants something done.

However, analysing your own behavior in something, bit by bit, sentence by sentence, is about as inviting as sticking needles under your fingernails. At least when there’s a significant gap between how you behaved in the situation then and how you would behave now, knowing what you know.

I actually blogged about the same phenomenon when I was working on my teacher training research paper on the same data. That was two years ago. Since then, I’ve read through volumes of theory and research on teaching.

And yes, I feel quite embarrassed for myself back then. It’s like looking through old photos and seeing yourself wearing the most hideous outfit that, back then, seemed like the height of awesome.

It’s not me, though

One of the highly useful concepts that come from Havi is the thought of Me from Then, Now and the Future. As in, they are all different people with different knowledge, different thoughts, different goals and all around different outlooks on life.

They all do share some characteristics (well, mainly the characteristic of inhabiting my body at some moment in time) and some history. Still, they are not Me, in the sense that they are not in the place, mentally or temporally, that I am right this moment.

When it comes to self-compassion, it’s very useful to treat those versions of me as if they were completely different individuals. The different Past Me versions did what they felt was best at that moment, based on the knowledge they had then. They had their own blocks and stucks, they dealt with them as best they could, and they got me where I am today.

The best course of action for me right now is to be compassionate towards them.

Case in point: The Thesis Data Me

I’ve transcribed my data and finished one layer of analysis on it. That means I’ve bumped into the cringe-worthy moments of the lesson several times. Whenever I encounter one of those moments, I have a few choices.

The first choice, and the one I’ve mostly been picking: get embarrassed and beat Present Me up for the stuff Thesis Data Me is doing, quit working on my thesis for now, and come back to it when I’ve gathered enough mental strength to face the mistakes.

The other choice would be to allow Present Me to view Thesis Data Me as the person she was, strengths and weaknesses and all, and let go of wanting to change the behavior of Thesis Data Me. I can welcome the thought that if Present Me would do things differently, that must mean some learning has happened.

Furthermore, if I allow Thesis Data Me to be as she was, it is easier for me to give her compassion instead of disapproving of her. By giving Thesis Data Me some approval, I’m getting a slice of it myself, and I won’t feel as sorry for her for not getting that approval from the pupils in the data.

And that would probably help Present Me work on my thesis more enthusiastically. 😉

Thank you again for stopping by! If this sparked any ideas of how you relate to Past Me vs. Present Me, please do share in the comments, and subscribe to the feed if you want to stay updated in the fascinating journey that is finishing my thesis.

Oh, and keep catching your own insightings!

Love,

Sari

Dawn: When men of reason go to bed.
Ambrose Bierce

At the moment, I have a bit of a headache from not sleeping enough and not drinking enough fluids. Going to bed without drinking a few pints of water would spell a disaster for tomorrow morning, so I’ll down a pot of green tea and put my bedtime problem through the experiential learning cycle.

Remember the steps? There are four:

  • Action that leads to Experience;
  • Reflection;
  • Analysis;
  • and New Action based on that analysis.

For the purposes of this investigation, I’ll be looking at the habitual action of not getting to bed early enough.

Background information

As you might have deduced, our daughter is nearing her first birthday. This also means I am nearing the one-year anniversary of my last eight-hour stretch of sleep. Or even four-hour stretch. Yeah, she has plenty of wonderful skills and traits but sleeping through the night has never been on that list.

We cosleep, and she still wakes up a few times each night. As she is currently learning to walk, she often wakes up in a crouching or seated position, wondering how the heck she ended up there, and it’s my task to ease her back to sleep. That takes a bit of cognitive effort, so I’m constantly waking up and drifting back to sleep again.

Suffice to say that I live for Saturday mornings – the one day during the week when hubby takes care of our daughter’s morning routine and breakfast, and I get to put on earplugs and drift off to sleep for a few uninterrupted hours.

With that level of  sleep deprivation, you’d think I’d be jumping at the slightest chance to sleep some more. And indeed, every single morning I decide to go to bed early that night. And then every single night I curse at myself for getting to bed at midnight.

This calls for some investigation!

Action / Experience

We used to have a “laptops and TV off at 10 pm” rule in our household. At one point, it worked like a charm. Then something happened – it might actually have been the baby’s arrival – that totally wrecked and destroyed that beautiful rule. Mentally, I still make a note when the clock hits 10 pm. I just don’t act on it.

One of the reasons I dropped message boards for Lent is the sheer amount of time I was spending on them, most of it at night. Now, though, as I don’t read the boards, I’m doing something else. Like reading IttyBiz archives (as well as the comment threads!), Facebook-chatting or Skype-ing (Skyping? I never know) with friends, or watching TV and doing crafts.

A few nights ago, I caught myself at eleven thirty on the couch, watching an interview episode of The Real Housewives of NY. Yes, seriously. I’ve never watched the show, and I didn’t really know why I was interested in the interview, but there you have it.

Reflection

How would you describe the situation in a sentence?

I stay up too late reading or watching TV even though I know I would be better off going to sleep.

What seems good about the situation?

I get me-time, a precious commodity when you’re responsible for the baby most of the day. I learn a lot, I get to observe interesting conversations taking place (or having taken place), I get to do something that feeds my intellect.

What seems bad about the situation?

I don’t sleep enough, which isn’t really helping with the brain-work I have to do during the day. I drink too much coffee, which might be a contributing factor in the whole staying-up-too-late cycle. I get frustrated every time I notice I’ve missed my bedtime, and sometimes I unfairly take it out on my husband.

I don’t have much of an evening routine, so stuff that needs to be done before bed gets put off until the last possible minute, and then I’m putting away the dishes when I really want to be sleeping already.

What feelings do you have about the situation?

I feel annoyed at myself for not being able to just stick to the bedtime.

I feel deprived at the thought of going to bed earlier, because that would limit my me-time significantly, as I spend the baby’s nap times working.

I feel frustrated by the whole situation.

I feel worried that if I don’t find a solution to the situation, my mental and physical health will suffer.

I feel guilty about indulging in reading and stuff when I should be sleeping.

I feel annoyed at the dishes that don’t make it to the dishwasher by themselves.

I feel disappointed that my routines have been shot after the baby’s birth.

I feel a need to push myself through this situation and not allow myself the space to let it simmer.

Analysis

Is there something you’ve experienced before in the situation?

I’ve done the whole staying-up-till-midnight thing a lot, especially if I find something interesting to dive into. I’ve had books that I can’t stop reading, and instead of the “few pages before bed” I devour half of the book and get to sleep at two thirty.

The element of pushing myself through a situation, whipping myself into shape, and then getting annoyed when it doesn’t work, is a very familiar one too.

And the guilt about doing something that is purely for me (i.e. reading blogs or message boards, watching fluff on TV) when I should be doing something that benefits the greater good (i.e. sleeping to be a better mom and wife tomorrow) hits me whenever I need a break. I often have to consciously remind myself to take a break, only in this situation I’m actually hurting myself more by indulging than by sticking to the plan.

Are there common denominators in the elements of the situation?

Most of the stuff I do instead of sleeping are, in some way or form, imitations of social interaction. The message boards, the Facebook chat, blogs, even lousy reality TV – all of them share the element of social context.

They are also something that I do as an end in themselves, not as a means to some other end. Okay, maybe reading IttyBiz is a long-term investment into my future business, but it’s not like I’m actually learning anything with this sleep-deprived Swiss cheese brain.

Furthermore, they’re all mental activities, instead of physical ones. I’m relaxing by zoning out inside my head, instead of doing yoga or stretches or something else.

What seems important in the situation?

There’s the element of me-time and social context that jump out.

This has something to do with my search for identity. Somehow I seem to need reassurance that I still am an intelligent person who is able to think, learn and communicate. I seem to need space for my own thoughts about me and the world to percolate through what others think.

The social context is also important. My day-to-day social activities are so different from what they used to be that there is a deficit, a need that is not met.

Relaxation is also important. Sleep could bring that relaxation, but sleep is unconscious me-time. I seem to be looking for a sense that I am not just a mom. If I sleep whenever the baby is sleeping, my only experience of myself would be the mom identity.

Is there an element of some theory in the situation?

The guilt about not sticking to the plan makes me think of a concept I read in the first chapter of Switch – The Elephant and The Rider.

The jist is that the Elephant is our unconscious self that the Rider i.e. the conscious mind must reign in and control. When the Rider uses the right tactics to steer the Elephant, change happens more effortlessly. However, the Rider has to use a lot of energy initially to get the Elephant onto the right path.

At this point, I feel like I’m in a vicious cycle. My Rider doesn’t have the mental energy to keep steering my Elephant onto the path of going to sleep earlier. That lack of mental energy is caused by my lack of sleep. This means that the whole “deciding what happens and then pushing so hard it happens” approach won’t be much use here.

Another theory that comes to mind is the Sidetracked personality type that I learned about from Flylady. Being easily sidetracked, reading blogs or message boards is like quicksand. There’s always another conversation, another post, another link, another interesting topic. Hours upon hours go by without so much as a whisper of “hey, d’ya think maybe it’s time to do something else?”

Can you think of a recommendation for New Action?

Identity. Social context. Relaxation.

The first two needs do have to be addressed, but I have a feeling that the third one could be the ticket to try next, since it’s what I’m looking for after we’ve put the baby to bed.

If reading stuff online is out of the question (see the part about easily sidetracked and quicksand), I might try an approach where I don’t open the laptop for any reason whatsoever after 10 pm.

Also, if it’s relaxation I’m looking for, I might try to incorporate stretching, yoga or other calming physical activity into the last few hours of the night. The transition from yoga to evening routine might be gentler than trying to tear myself from an interesting (pseudo)social situation.

New Action

  • Laptop and TV off at 10 pm, if not earlier.
  • Stretch or do yoga around 10pm, possibly while watching TV (before 10 pm, that is).

I’ll see how this works out and keep you posted. 🙂

Any thoughts or comments on bedtimes, the Experiential cycle, relaxation or sleep deprivation? 😉 You’re welcome to share in the comments. Any thoughts on addressing the issues of identity and social circle are also welcome, although I do reserve the right to not take action on any advice on the matter.

Thank you so much for reading! I’ll sip up the rest of my tea and get some stretches in before bed. If you want to hear how things progress, subscribe to the feed! Oh, and keep catching your own insightings!

Love,

Sari