In my update this week, I discuss parenting, sketchnoting, and self-compassion.
These weekly updates share life with OCD as part of my Mental Work Health project to reduce stigma around mental health, especially at work.
Another roller coaster of a week has come and gone. Let’s get right into it.
Parenting. Wow. It is a right hook to the jaw sometimes.
This past week, we faced challenges with the teenagers as well as the toddlers. One of the difficulties with child struggles is that they seem to mostly happen at night, particularly late at night. That means that your sleep is affected, which in turn decreases your ability to handle everyday stressors. This often leads to impaired parenting responses, which escalate or cause another set of issues. And on and on it goes.
In so many ways, this spiral is similar to many thought loops that I experience with OCD. As someone with scrupulosity OCD, it is a common occurrence to mentally berate myself for doing something “wrong.” I am sure that many of us identify with the notion of being our own worst critic. It becomes a bigger problem when the result of that realization is to beat myself up for beating myself up. It is so easy for that cycle to become a despair spiral of doom.
This past weekend was General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is always a time that we look forward to as a family. It gives us the chance to pause and think about our lives differently, as well as how we can better follow Jesus Christ and treat others as He would.
It worked out this time for me to capture some sketchnotes which is always something I enjoy. You can see them on Gospel Sketcher.
In dealing with negative or critical thoughts, self-compassion is essential. This is a learned skill that came with great difficulty for me. When I was in intensive treatment for OCD, I was introduced formally to the concept. There are three components to self-compassion:
Self-kindness: Self-compassion entails being warm towards oneself when encountering pain and personal shortcomings, rather than ignoring them or hurting oneself with self-criticism.
Common humanity: Self-compassion also involves recognizing that suffering and personal failure is part of the shared human experience.
Mindfulness: Self-compassion requires taking a balanced approach to one’s negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. Negative thoughts and emotions are observed with openness, so that they are held in mindful awareness. Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which individuals observe their thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them.
I need frequent reminders to continue to practice this skill. It seems to be one of the first things that fades away when life gets hectic or stressful for me. And yet it is the one skill that is always applicable and helpful.
I encourage you, as I do myself, to practice more self-compassion. Whether you are a parent or not, make sleep a priority. And find opportunities to engage in activities that uplift and edify you. Stay well.