The frog and the scorpion. Our nature
Briefly the story goes like this-
A scorpion eager to get to the other side of the river asked a frog to transport him there in his back. The frog refused telling the scorpion that he'd sting him once he got there and he'd die. The scorpion insisted he wouldn't kill him so the frog took him to the other side. Almost at the bank the scorpion sung the frog and before dying the frog asked the scorpion why he did that as he pledge he wouldn't....the scorpion replied "because its in my nature"..
And so we come to the theme here. The inherent qualities both good and bad inside us that cannot be changed. The foundation of our character will not budge. All the other parts that are plasticine can be moulded to improve on our faults. But we really are a ship on a course with our nature.
That leads me to ask the question- if there is a characteristic you don't like (often highlighted by another person) that is in ground in your personality, what can you do about it?
E.g. I have a slight anger problem. I usually brush it off with "stress" but in reality I have to own it. Even though it's my nature, with anger there is a victim, be it a slight raising of your voice (my case), or worse.
The fact remains, change is near impossible. The "slight raising of my voice" is the result of a build up of disappointment that one tries to suppress, then balm! It all overflows.
I've come to the realisation that with the ever predicted outburst if I can move on quickly then life's good. However if that event repeats itself too often the victim can tire of it.
To judge if your trait is inherited just look at members of your blood family. Do they get angry? Are they selfish?
To summarize- we are talking about personality flaws we don't choose, they are part of your inherited make up.
Do you have any and how do you control them?
Hi white knight!
Wow- this is such a thought-provoking post. I really think that reflection is so useful and I realise that I don't do it enough! Your story of the scorpion and the frog was truly compelling.
One characteristic that is a challenge for me is the need to be 'the best of the best' or perfectionism. I have always been this way and no one else puts this pressure on me but myself. At high school it wasn't too bad but for the undergraduate and postgraduate degrees I studied there was a need to be in the top percentile in order to progress. Unfortunately those who didn't meet the cut-off weren't able to do very much with their degree even if they studied 4+ years of it.
Honestly it has it's strengths and weaknesses.
Strength- I do enjoy working hard and the marks and results usually pay off
Weaknesses- Catastrophising if I don't get the marks I wanted
I am slowly getting better, I have always had this quality in me but I honestly feel like my degrees really pushed it to it's limit.
Hi White Knight
I’m not sure I can get mine into words, but here goes -
I suffered prolonged (years) of abuse of every type as a child & teen. All I ever wanted was a happy family, which would have included being loved for myself.
My first marriage ended in divorce but I had three young daughters to raise. I loved them dearly but those years were incredibly difficult as my mental illness was at its most severe & I was hospitalised numerous times each year.
Since my daughters have left home & had their own families I’ve still needed to bury my real self in order to help them, be needed by them & thus loved by them. It’s taken me years to realise that I am a person of some intrinsic worth that doesn’t need validation by them.
And of course, the cruncher, at the first sign of my “new” self showing through, each daughter in turn has shut me out of their lives.
I’m not sure if this is what you mean Tony, but I think wanting to be loved is born in us. I went to catholic schools & was taught by nuns & we were told how lucky we were to have a god that loved us as well as a loving family (I used to shudder/grieve/& pine for a family like that).
The person I am & the person I’ve always been has been worthy of love. I just have to stop trying to mould myself into what I think others want me to be.
The biggest saving grace in my life has been my second husband. We’ve been married 23 years but we were married 17 years before I fully realised & really believed he loved me. Who ever said I’m a little slow?!
I still have a lot to learn.
You used a word that highlights this post - "Catastrophizing". If that is in your nature (and confirmation of that is if other members of your family are also) you'll be hard pressed to counter it. Being realistic is a plus eg try to lower the catastrophizing to a more manageable level that means to a level whereby your life is less effected and for only short bursts. This transformation however might take a long time before you get results.
EG I was a chronic worrier. Nicknamed the "worrier" by a teacher at aged 12. A permanent frown!. So I recognised this as being part of my nature that I inherited from my mother. My mother was in denial with everything in life but not I, so I went about fixing it.
Now, a few decades since that realisation, I worry just a little more than most people.
I'd suggest that Catastrophizing is very similar to worry be it more compacted. Anxiety I'd suggest has a good deal of ingredient to catastrophizing.
Reading the first post of that you'll see the long term effort needed to overcome anxiety....22 years! but the improvements along the way are noticed so it is satisfying.
PS The metaphor of "the frog and the scorpion is told in the mini series "the Bangkok Hilton" starring Nicole Kidman in her early days of acting.
Have you improved your symptoms over time do you think?
Your expressions werent what I meant really however I'm happy you posted in such a raw way and I'll include you in my answers and can continue on chatting here about your issues.
From what I've read you have transformed into a "new person" which rapid or radical change from your past character? Am I right?. This new "Topsy" is a person that your daughters cant or wont accept to the point whereby they reject you, even cutting ties.
From what I've learned out of life including having my youngest daughter reject me several times over a 14 years period till I then rejected her for my own protection, children are on loan. That they are in our lives forever is not a "given" and of course this depends on many factors, no two families are similar.
What is the best way to go about your future with your on and off adult daughters situation? Well once your situation goes on for a long period of time you'll grow tired of the "fight" to have harmony, just like I did with mine. Once I was convinced that my daughter was playing hurtful narcissistic emotional games (as her mother taught her) it was time to let go. It was the hardest thing I've had to do in my life. Yes, as a loving father I still find times hard when I think about her. Then I remind myself that it was her that refused to give me her phone number, her that refused to give me her address, her that would block me from Facebook when she wanted to without any reason at all and so on. To list these unacceptable decisions would take an A4 page. So I did what was best for me other wise my devotion would do mental damage to me. In contrast my oldest daughter has been a blessing. No problems whatsoever.
In your case you can find a blend of actions that might see yourself distancing from your daughters depending on their mood. A big part of that alteration to your attitude will be-
- Less expectations from you to your daughters. Even mothers day for example, if they dont want to make the effort to contact its their loss
- A few more interests in your life https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/staying-well/depression-distraction-and-vari...
- Adopt others as family that are or arent blood (I have my mother estranged for 10 years, I have two other mother figure in my life now). Better to focus on those that appreciate you.
- Continue to send birthday card and gifts if you like. If they want you they can contact you.
I hope that helps. Repost anytime Topsy
Thank you for your thoughtful and detailed reply! As you mentioned it has definitely been a journey to combat my anxiety. I feel as though this year I am doing much better at uni than I have previously. I still treat every assignment seriously but it does have it's perks in that the results are really showing. However, now I tend to tell myself 'this really isn't the end of the world'. It truly is only one assessment after all.
It's going to definitely take time but I'm trying to hold on to the happy or proud feeling I get when I react to situations differently than I have previously. I will keep working on this!
Thank you for your support and I hope we can support you too!
Essentially Catastophising is at the end of the thought process. It's an extreme reaction that likely disappears with maturity. Mine did. It's also imo a tell tale of a symptom of anxiety. It also show lack of calm. Being calm promotes wisdom because we give ourselves time to think.
A good idea is to have on you a "reality list". When an incident occurs you take a few moments to access the real effect. From 1 to 10 gauge the seriousness of the event. 10 is a heart attack or a life threatening incident, 1 is a minor worry e.g. running late for class.
Getting issues into perspective improves your responses and pigeon holes them effectively freeing up your mind to tackle other challenges.
Commonly you know someone is doing this when they say "I'll worry about that later"
Every obsession has it's penalty. Perfectionism results in disappointment. Doing your reasonable best is a more measured expectation that leads to that wisdom zone.
Those are some wonderful insights, the next time I feel anxious I really want to implement the '1-10' list as I have to admit that I've never thought in that way before! I really give my 100% to everything but honestly it means that I worry as much for something small like being late to class to something large for example an accident! I agree with you though, as I am getting older it is definitely become less and less. I like to remind myself to practice self-kindness and realise that I am on a journey of self-awareness and self-growth.
Thank you for all of your support and tips!
Running late for class... another example of needing to be realistic.
You get anxious asnd rush etc. But walking swift will get you there 20 seconds later. Reverse your feelings e.g. while walking think about your partner, a bird flying by etc. Smile!
Life is too short to worry about a minute or two.
Guilt feelings are not helpful
Beyondblue topic guilt the tormentor