The 30-Day Sustainable Domesticity Challenge: Do you understand yourself? (Day 22)

A contemplative woman lost in thought sits with her dog

The 30-Day Sustainable Domesticity Challenge continues, with just about a week to go! For me, a lot of this processing has been about understanding that I only rarely have the energy for Maxim 1. And when I achieve Maxim 2 (or don’t) it helps me take my own temperature: how am I doing? How am I operating at the moment? In short, this has become about understanding myself. Understanding leads to knowing yourself. Knowing yourself leads to loving yourself. And loving yourself leads to self-care. And self-care gives you the reserves you need to be of service to others. So. Do you understand yourself? 

Why do you do the things you do?

Before I got diagnosed with having bipolar II, I remember being thoroughly puzzled by myself. Why did I believe that I was a competent genius with nothing standing in my way? Why did I simultaneously belive that I was a foul-smelling loser who would never accomplish anything and was only sucking away the resources of my loved ones?

My hypomanic times had given me one view of myself and my depressed times had given me another, completely opposing, view of myself. And I believed both at the same time. Whew. Talk about knocking me off kilter. Was I lazy or incredibly productive? Smart and efficient or disorganized and slow-thinking?

Then I learned that I had bipolar. Oh. Suddenly this mystifying set of opposing beliefs came into focus. Knowing about hypomania and depression helped me understand why I had believed those things – and I was able to devise my own, more clear-headed view of myself. One that struck the balance.

Do you know why you do the things you do? Are they driven by a mental disorder? Are they innate personality traits? Are they learned behaviors?

Once you understand why do you do things, you can support that behavior or opt out.

This calls for a little bit of awareness. For example, when you retreat to your room to get some space, why are you doing that?

  • Are you hiding because you’re afraid and you need to tweak your perspective?
  • Are you getting some quiet because you know that you’re overstimulated?
  • Are you angry and taking a breather before you hurt someone’s feelings?
  • Are you resting so you can come out with more energy in a few minutes?

Once you know why you’re doing something, you can assess that behavior’s value and consequences. And then you can either support that behavior or work on dissolving it.

I have learned that I retreat from social situations so I can rest and come back out in a few minutes with more energy. I used to wonder if I was hostile, antisocial, ungracious, or a bad hostess. I’d push through social engagements and get more and more frayed and anxious and snappish as the encounter wore on.

Now I just leave for a few minutes. I lie on my bed, look out the window, breathe, and snuggle into my pillow. I let the cool quiet surround me. Ten minutes later, I re-emerge, better able to be around people.

That’s not hostile or ungracious behavior. That’s taking care of myself. I retreat from social encounters all the time now, with no guilt or hesitation.

Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself:

  • Why do I go to bed when I do?
  • Why do I dress the way I do?
  • Why is my relationship with food the way it is?
  • Why is my relationship with movement the way it is?
  • Why do I perform tasks the way I do?
  • Why do I interact with my friends/family the way I do?
  • Why do I keep house the way I do?
  • Why do I bathe and groom myself the way I do?
  • Why do I spend my spare time the way I do?

There are no “right” and “wrong” answers here. Your answers are descriptive, not prescriptive. This is about understanding yourself, not changing yourself. That can come later, if you so choose.

Comment below and tell me your answers.

Do you understand yourself better now? What did you discover? Which behaviors do you support and which ones do you want to shift?

Here’s your homework.

Spend a few days observing your behaviors. Take notes. Write down any “ah-hah!” moments that you have. See if there’s a behavior that you’d like to prioritize. See if there’s a behavior that stems from an unhelpful habit or belief. Then take a few baby steps toward change. 

Here are my answers to the questions I asked above.

  • Why do I go to bed when I do?

-I go to bed between 8:30pm-9:00pm because I need a lot of sleep to function well when I get my son ready for school.

  • Why do I dress the way I do?

-Because it’s easy and pretty and comfortable.

  • Why is my relationship with food the way it is?

-Because I read a book that resonated with me and made me comfortable about eating.

  • Why is my relationship with movement the way it is?

-Because I have a standing desk and walk my son to and from school every day. (Integration, not expectation.)

  • Why do I perform tasks the way I do?

-Because I know that simple, structured, regularly-scheduled tasks work best for me.

  • Why do I interact with my friends and family the way I do?

-Because I’ve come to value deep listening and trust.

  • Why do I keep house the way I do?

-Because I know that knocking back the mess makes it easier.

  • Why do I bathe and groom myself the way I do?

-Because I know that a simple shower and simple makeup make me strut all day long.

  • Why do I spend my spare time the way I do?

-Because I have trouble valuing play, and I tend to keep on working. (Note: not proud of this one.)

My answers aren’t meant to be your answers. They’re just mine. They’re where I’m at. I’ll shift over time, no doubt. But now I know why I’m doing what I’m doing – and I can assess these answers for things to prioritize or dissolve. That’s it. No pressure. No judgment.

Comment below with your findings.

We’re all in this together, and the more we practice transparency and share our journeys, the better our community of bipolar stay-at-homes will be – as well as the community in our broader world.

 

—>Defining Self-Love<—

My favorite part of this whole site is the book reviews. 

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