Several years ago in the group we developed a safe card. This was a tool for people to draw on in moments that felt difficult, overwhelming or unmanageable. The idea is to fill it in when feeling in a more positive place. First of all in the group we thought about the types of situations where it may be helpful; times of crisis, or being very down and self-critical of oneself. Sometimes when we fall into a very negative place it can be hard in those moments to bring to mind a more positive outlook or a different possibility of how things might turn out. It may be that in those moments we can’t get there at all by ourselves so we might be reminded of someone we can go to who is able to remind us which is why there is a space for a supportive person’s number and crisis phone line numbers. The kind of things that the group knew to do to look after themselves were to go for a walk, eat something, exercise, talk to someone. People found quotes that were helpful to them too, that made them feel better, things that reminded them to embrace the vitality of life and that troubled times change and pass. People cited the serenity prayer:
We chatted about the value of acceptance of situations we can’t change rather than fighting against them, because we have power to change our feelings, thoughts and actions.
What we can also find sometimes too is that we have ‘paralysis in pursuit of perfection’ in that we don’t even try new things or new ways because they may not go perfectly but that’s ok!!
There seems to be a power of writing important reminders down and then sticking them up. Remember that our brains and thoughts default to the negative, and we need ways to remind ourselves of the other ways of thinking, a different story and other possible outcomes. So this is where a safe card can come in useful. We also chatted a bit about the last section of the safe card; a vision for the future. For some people this was about identifying and realising things they had maybe not put into words before, and others at different stages in life were ready to start looking for a new journey to find a new passion.
When you are feeling anxious it is so important to have strategies to cope. To this end using a safe card can provide a safety net to hold and ground you.
“I don’t see what others see in me”. This is a saying that we can hear a lot of in society throughout all walks of life. Is this a default position we go to or are there cultural reasons for it? Certainly here in Scotland and the rest of the U.K. there does seem to be more of a tendency to play down our strengths as to do otherwise could leave you feeling uncomfortable. Is there a fear that by acknowledging our strengths we may be seen by others as ‘getting too big for your boots’ or ‘playing your own trumpet’. Does finding the fine line between confidence and arrogance play a part in our fear? You only have to look at celebrities who are universally loved by people all over the world who also can struggle and use self-depreciating comments such as; “What if I get found out, and am not as good as people seem to think I am?” This may seem like a silly thing to say given all the evidence to the contrary, but it does show that they are only human and can have insecurities like anyone.
Group members shared their own experiences of how they found acknowledging their strengths. Some people actually felt that it would be much easier to list their short comings. We then did an exercise where we asked people to write down the strengths and qualities they saw in one other and pass it back to the person so they could see the qualities others saw in them. While people found it nice doing this they still found it a challenge to take in and believe what people saw in them.
Today’s subject felt very relevant as this group is very much based on helping people build up their sense of worth. The hope being that through doing this it can play a part in being able to acknowledge their strengths without totally dismissing them.
At today’s group we looked at the fear of failure. Although our fears come from a protective place they can ultimately leave us feeling stuck and unfulfilled in parts of our life. If you’ve suffered disappointments in life it feel such a risk to try something new and it not working out. To avoid these disappointing feelings people may decide it safer to stay in the situation they know. In this case the fear of failure can feel more powerful than the possibility of success. It can feel so scary to take that leap of faith into the unknown. Group members gave examples of how they overcame fears and how it became the making of them. The thing to remember is that even if you try something and it does not work out you can always try something else. This of course does not take away the feelings of disappointment but it certainly does not make you a failure. We are learning all the time, particularly in the hard times. If we think back to being a toddler and learning to walk we do fall at times but we get back up and gradually learn to walk. Below is an inspiring video of people who have faced disappointments but managed to keep on trying new things.