The day I discovered I was pregnant with my first child was one of the happiest days of my life. It was also the scariest. My body was not my own. I realised every mouthful, every action, every decision would be felt by two.
I didn’t have control.
This was unfamiliar territory. So I did what I’ve always done, I hit the books and followed a predictable pattern; study, find the path, learn more, feel safe.
And it worked …
While my son was safety cocooned, I controlled our environment. I read the books, learnt the theory, gathered the knowledge and thought I could solve each problem.
Then he was born.
I was terrified of doing something wrong
It soon became obvious that all my learning, all the neat little theories, scenarios and models wouldn’t help. They were carefully placed boxes that looked pretty but weren’t real. For a person who’d always prided herself on finding the answer, it was a cruel joke. Motherhood was not how I planned. It felt like I’d prepared for an English paper only to enter the exam room and find myself in Science practical. Being Mum meant ‘learning on the job’. I couldn’t systemise. I couldn’t pause, contemplate, re-read and redo. I needed to respond immediately.
It was the first time in my life my ability to learn and gather information didn’t work. I felt like a failure and believed I wasn’t good enough.
I wish I’d known more about my talents
According to StrengthsFinder, most of my talents are in the Strategic Thinking domain. Learning, processing ideas and gathering information energises me. They are my areas of greatest strength. However, if overused, they’re also my greatest weakness.
I wish I’d known more about my talents when my son was born because understanding talent themes helps a person see resourceful and unresourceful behaviors. When I completed the Strengthfinder assessment I discovered my signature themes were Strategic Connectedness, Learner, Intellection and Input, Or, as I like to call them, Mum, Dad and the triplets.
Sometimes the Triplets Get in Trouble
In times of stress my coping strategy is – ‘learn more, think deeper, find more information’. This is the dark side of the Learner, Intellection, Input trio.
When in the Dark Trio’s grip I feel compelled to gather more information, ask more questions, conduct wider research.
I gorge myself on knowledge and adopt a toxic mantra – process harder, think faster, do it alone.
I get stuck in the belief that if I can just find the connection between my current circumstance and my desired condition, I’ll find my way. I believe knowledge will ease the pain and reduce the burden of guilt. I think the only way to ease the ‘I’m not good enough’ pain, is to find an elusive answer.
Maybe you’ve experienced the dark side of the trio.
A Deadly Collision – Tired, Stressed and Lonely
The dark trio appear when you hit the wall. You’re tired, stressed and short on resources. It could be a lack of time, lack of money, lack of love or lack of support. You’re disconnected and the ground beneath your feet is sucky mud. Your mind is stuck in a dark swamp and you can’t see clearly. You become disorientated and instead of swimming toward the surface, you go deeper. You look for an answer in the recesses of thought and become tangled in a looping search. However, rather than using the information you find, you bundle it into a pack on your back and keep searching. The load gets heavier and heavier until you collapse.
Stuck in an Endless Search
For many years the destructive power of the Dark Trio haunted me.
I was in a constant search for answers.
Although I discovered the power of journaling, the value of narrative and the solace of meditation it wasn’t until I understood my talents that clouds lifted.
I found my words.
Words of Ignition.
Now, when I become disorientated, I have a vocabulary to rebuild connections. My personal words are like a signal to move out of a dark basement and into a light filled balcony.
Using Trigger Words
When you find your trigger words, you have a tool for monitoring self talk. My dark trio thrive on the words such as ‘I’m not good enough’. It is a thought pattern that sends them into overdrive, searching for the perfect answer.
In the past, the dark trio paralysed me. Learner, Intellection and Input locked themselves in the basement playing in a sandpit of procrastination.
Now Connectedness and Strategic open the door.
If I find myself in the basement feeling lonely, tired and helpless, I look to the words of Connectedness and Strategic. From this brightly lit place, Learner, Input and Intellection work productively. They find what is needed and take action.
If you haven’t been exposed to StrengthsFinder, some of this vocabulary may sound strange. The important thing to see is where you ‘go’ in times of stress. Then you can discover the processes involved and find a better way to become unstuck.
Delete toxic habits.
It’s important to remember, each person has their own toxic patterns. These patterns create unresourceful behaviours. Therefore, a set of strategies that work for one person may not work for another. My unresourceful patterns relate to my trio. You may have a different set. This is why adopting a one size fits all solution to stress management doesn’t work. You need to recognise your own toxic words and patterns.
Find Your Words
You can find your ‘words’ by understanding the fears associated with your talent themes. It’ll help you mind your self-talk and uncover what’s really going on. You’ll manage stress by recognising your triggers.
My toxic vocabulary is
- I’m not good enough
- I don’t have enough information’.
It sends me into chronic search. Like an internet page that won’t load, I go round and round in a stationary circle searching for a broken link.
However, I’ve learnt to recognise the signal. If I find myself using my toxic sentences, I reconnect to the server and open a new page.
What are your toxic words?
If you’d like to more about using the words of your talent themes to escape toxic internal dialogue and discover resourceful behaviours, contact Nicole for a free introduction to Strengths conversation. We’re based in QLD and can arrange face to face consultations on the Gold Coast or Sydney. Alternatively ask about our Skype sessions.
Call today to arrange your complimentary introduction to Strengths coaching session.
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