Why are we disproportionately affected by certain events? Why do we find some things offensive – not just Insta-offensive?
A while back a friend told him that he resigned from his job after he discovered the management was unethical. He left for a competing organisation and was unfairly accused of stealing trade secrets. His world fell apart and he has still not recovered. Why was he so affected by a situation that someone else might have been able to laugh about over time?
Yesterday I was reminded of a similar experience I had. When I was on sick leave due to stress and at the same time got a new boss, my employer threatened to relocate me due to performance issues. This just six months after I had been selected as top talent. A Kafka-like process was initiated where no account was taken of my circumstances. I fought back with legal means and eventually made them change their position but I still today feel very bad when I think about it.
Why can’t I just brush it off as having the misfortune of working for an incompetent organisation and uncompassionate boss?
What sets my friend apart is his strong sense of justice and integrity. When these core values were questioned, albeit on false grounds, it shook his world.
Similarly, I have understood that one of my fundamental values is achievement. I have as long as I remember wanted to perform, that’s who I am. Even though I know I did a good job under the circumstances, a small part of me died when my performance was questioned. Just like in my friend’s case, my employer pressed the wrong (or right) button. My values were challenged.
One of the most powerful exercises I do with clients is to chart their core values.
Once you know where your buttons are, you can choose who will hit them, when and how.
We usually don’t equate money with happiness – openly at least. At a stretch we say money can make life easier.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about money in relation to time and freedom. How long should you stay in a job you don’t like? How much money do we need before we retire? Or if you start at the other end – how big of a house or car do you really need to be happy?
If toddler parents constantly struggle with time poverty – how can we get our hands on more time?
I read an interesting article from Psychology Today about money and happiness. It claims that there are 3 ways that money can actually make you happy. Buying time is one of them.
I am planning person, to say the least. When I tell people about my rolling 5-year personal plan in Excel they usually look like they’ve seen a green giraffe fly over the rooftops.
Every January, as part of my annual planning process, I update my 5-year plan, evaluate and rate previous year, develop guiding principles for the coming year and set 4-5 goals with associated activities for the new year.
Sounds like I should see someone about this?
Well it works for me. Half-year reviews with myself gives me an endorphin-high the size of a teenage kiss.
In 2016 I had no plan.
This was not a conscious decision and I didn’t even notice it until I sat down for my review in January. As the chock settled I realised that this was exactly what I needed last year. I guess a part of my brain somehow understood this but decided to keep quiet about it so I wouldn’t protest.
2016 was the year I overcame fertility problems, had a pregnancy fraught with complications, fought discrimination at work, had an emergency caesarean and became a mother. Trying to fit that into columns and rows would not have been a good idea.
Fate however smiled at my obsession with planning and arranged for my pregnancy to follow the calendar months, starting in January. One must have some order after all.
It makes me wonder – is it necessary to have a serial car crash in our lives to change deeply entrenched behaviours?
If we instead consciously change these behaviours do we develop just as much? Or even more?
Today I took time off my parental leave and wrote my 2017 plan. I am proud that I waited until February and that the plan doesn’t contain a single colour-coded rating system.
I expected I’d sit and watch the baby for hours but I was not prepared for the bottomless love I feel for Otto. (The Mariana Trench is the world’s deepest oceanic area). He still feels part of my body in a way. Even more surprising is the intimacy I now feel with my partner. I thought the baby cuddles would fill my closeness quota, but no. I feel even greater love for my partner and want even more hugs and kisses. A very pleasant surprise.
2. Helicopter Mom Deluxe
I was convinced that I would be a chilled out mom. Someone who doesn’t use hand sanitizer before every meal or obsess over how warm the baby is. But how wrong I was. I have a helicopter mom default setting and almost feel physical pain when he cries. If someone coughs in the supermarket (the longest trip we have taken so far), I wish that there was industrial power antiseptic spray I could use.
3. Prestige flestige
I was happy to discover that I left most of my career and life performance anxiety in the delivery room. The fact that it took two weeks before I updated the blog after giving birth didn’t bother me at all. A nice side effect indeed. A sort of must-dos detox.
4. Total world isolation
I never understood the so called baby bubble before it hit me. People told me to ‘enjoy the bubble’ or ‘we’ll see you when you’re out of the bubble’. The less charming side of this bubble is perhaps that you don’t have time to read a newspaper, watch your favourite series or use conditioner when you shower. On the other hand the rather pleasant side of the bubble is that things that world affairs or my housing cooperative politics seems completely unimportant. That said, I couldn’t ignore the terrible saga of the US presidential election. On election night I for once appreciated the night feedings so I could follow the news coverage.
5. The mother of efficiency
I now have two settings. The first, a distraught, apathetic zombie-like mode that is often on after a rough night. The second, a hyper efficient mode when I can empty the dishwasher, pay the bills, do the laundry, update Instagram, call mom and bake a pie, all while Otto sleeps. I, who am usually a task master and have spent my life chasing efficiencies and multitasking, am in awe of myself as a new mother.
So, imagine you’re planning to do an Ironman (a triathlon that ends with running a marathon) for the first time in your life. You’ve never even worn a wetsuit before but you know it will the be single most painful thing you’ve ever done.
Me: So when will the race take place?
My body: Well, the planned date is in 40 weeks. The race will most likely take place between 37 to 42 weeks from now.
Me: Ok, but I’ll assume the race is in 40 weeks then. On October 11th?
My body: Well, only 4.6% of all races take place on the planned date.
Me: So you’re telling me that I should train, prepare mentally, buy all the gear, frantically Google everything that can possibly go wrong during the race and then wait with my bag packed every night for five weeks for a call from you telling me that the race is on?
My body: Yep. And if the race hasn’t started after 42 weeks they’ll push you into the water and give you lots of drugs so you can make it around the course. If you’re still not able to finish they will put you on a stretcher, put you to sleep and push you all the way to the finishing line.
Shamelessly borrow and steal traditions from other countries, I say.
We recently went on a spa weekend. The excuse? A baby moon, what seems to be an American phenomenon that really doesn’t exist in Sweden. A trip or weekend away as a couple before the baby comes along because, well because you can.
We went to the Djurönäset Spa in the Stockholm archipelago. A 40 minute drive felt just about all my body could handle, even so we had to take a food and toilet break. We had an absolutely magic weekend with coffee on the cliffs overlooking the water, yoga and sauna. The coffee break was my thing. And it wouldn’t be our baby moon if we didn’t have a working session to write our birth plan. It became a sort of baby conference – highly recommended.
Now that this went down so well, maybe we should introduce the push gift tradition as well? Will bring this up at home.
I took a short walk in the autumn sun today (giving thanks to my pelvic girdle for the steps I received). I love walks this time of year when the air is crisp but its still sunny. It’s nice to be able to dress warmly for once – at the moment the hot flushes mainly mean I walk around in my underwear and compression stockings. Convenient really as I’ve now outgrown most of my pregnancy clothes.
Never before have I wished for the short Swedish summer to end. But then of course with this autumn comes the baby. Just nine days to go now, unless of course I go over by two weeks, in which case I have a 25-day wait ahead. How should one relate to the D-Day? It does feel depressing to add two weeks after counting down for 40 weeks, just to be sure. But perhaps it’s best way to avoid going mad.
I have always been very active. From playing in the little boys football league at age 9, to getting through the Virgin triathlon in London Docklands dirty waters and a completing a marathon.
The other day I reached rock bottom. In a pleasant and almost liberating way.
I was using a reclining exercise bike at the gym was looking forward to a few minutes of spreading my legs wildly and panting. First when six minutes had past I noticed that I had not even turned on the machine. Zero resistance and yet I was sweating like a pig. I laughed contently.
Of course I miss high intensity training or even being able to go for a brisk walk these days. But at the same time it is a beautiful and very useful experience not being able to work out, to completely give into what my pregnant body wants, with not a thought on performance. Well, I guess my body does perform a miracle every day in producing this baby.
Sometimes I think that nature gave me early SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction)for a reason. I simply had so such a long way to go in unlearning how to perform that I needed some extra help.
We sit along the walls of the small yoga room. The typical lovely and slighly confused yoga teacher has left the loud music on in the background, but I can still hear her ask everyone to share whether its their first baby and when they are due. At first I don’t find it uncomfortable at all – I’m not exactly shy.
But after the first and second woman share a due date several months ahead of mine, I panic. My bump is by far the biggest and I’m pretty much due later than everyone else in the room.
The whole room seems full of beautiful, perky little round bumps. I look down at my barrel shaped body and begins to cry.
To add to my misery I have terrible pelvic girdle- and back pain, apparently also because my tummy has grown so quickly, and cannot even sit cross-legged. I usually love to challenge myself physically and enjoy yoga but now I barely make it through the class, mostly lying on my side with a mountain of pillows around me. The breathing exercises become my thing.
On the way home, I start thinking how insensitive it was to expose these hormone fuelled, possibly hypersensitive pregnant ladies to this, right? But every non pregnant person I share this with look at me blank face.
Thankfully I have never suffered from a distorted body image or been particularly insecure about my appearance. Why did this affect me so much? Apart from the hormones that turn me into this irrational emotional package. And why is it even a bad thing that my bump is big? Shouldn’t I just be happy and proud that I’m pregnant? My wise partner tells me that surely it would have been worse if the bump didn’t until very late in the pregnancy, this does happen to some. Had I not been pregnant, I would most likely also be thinking in that way.
Today I found myself going through the washed, folded and sorted baby clothes. Again. (I obviously also have an Excel document to keep on top of what we have in different sizes – doesn’t everyone?).
To my dismay I found myself thinking that I have to buy more monochrome bodysuits to match all the patterned trousers. Grr! I really didn’t want to become this person. Surely that’s not important? I blame the pregnancy hormones and blindly trust that I’ll get my priorities straight once the baby comes.
Why do I get upset over the size of my bump during pregnancy yoga?
Will having a baby make the old performance anxiety to flare up again?
Why is it frowned upon to have entrepreneurial plans during maternity leave?
How do I avoid getting stuck in the baby gadget-trap?
I’m pregnant with our first child and it has triggered a lot of thoughts around conformity, society norms and stress. It seems pregnancy and parenthood often comes with a big helping of self-judgment and doubt.
What will it be like for me? This blog is an experiment. I want to use it for reflection around stress from comparing yourself with others, conformity and expectations of society on parents. I plan to write about pregnancy hang-ups, the pregnancy body, health and parenthood. But also about start your own business during early parenthood and about performance anxiety.
Hopefully I learn a lot that I can use in my role as a professional coach. Perhaps this blog will become a sort of vaccine against parental stress or instead work as fertiliser in the hotbed of comparison stress. Let’s see.