Today while working on my computer I noticed an important point concerning how I approach a problem and what I experience while someone else is expecting the solution to the problem that I am aiming to solve.
Here is what happened. My friend asked me to tell him how to do a transformation of a vector graphic in Illustrator. I am very familiar with graphic tools because I spent years working with them professionally. This is years ago and meanwhile I have reinvented myself and I rarely engage in these kinds of tasks. However, it is like riding a bicycle, once you learn the “logic” that underpins the programme, you will be able to figure out what to do no matter what software version you are working with. To tackle the task, I reminded myself of what to do in this particular case by checking out a tutorial on the internet, which was explaining a task of a similar nature. The tutorial came in a pdf file, which I quickly downloaded and skimed, thinking “oh I know what this is about, I remember now”. I then proceeded to open illustrator and solve my friend’s problem. I quickly drew what needed to be drawn and performed the transform. It did not work. I tried it again and again. It still did not work and I did not understand why. I grew quite frustrated because I did not want to spend a lot of time on this job since I had other things to do which were time sensitive. I realised that my frustration had grown quite substantial at this point and so went back to the tutorial and looked it over again. This time more thoroughly. Then I realised what had gone wrong, I had missed one step. I then fixed the problem and finished the file.
What is significant here are two things. First, this ‘feeling’ of frustration is all too familiar, and secondly the starting point of going about the task. I have been in many similar situations with computer work where this sort of frustration has surfaced. Exactly in the same fashion with the same symptoms. The tasks themselves are often not complicated but I experience a high level of frustration because someone is expecting and anticipating the result of my work. I remember when I learned how to model 3D shapes, and my boss was expecting me to create fairly complicated models in a very short amount of time. I was in a state of anxiety for months on end. This time, working with the Illustrator file, I realised that my starting point was not from this relaxed place but from an incredible sense of rush and impatience to get this task done.
When I was a kid my mother was a very impatient woman. She was a housewife, and did not work to earn money. It was impossible for her to put herself into the shoes of a child. We were always on the run with her. We were never fast enough, never efficient enough, never good enough. Everyday, I was told that I should do this or that faster, and that she does not have time for me. If I took too long in completing a task, she would become quite abusive. When there was something to be taught, for example tying my shoes, she would preface this with waving her index fingern in my face, “I will only show you once, that’s it – I don’t have time for such things”. If I did not get it right the first time around, then I’d risk being yelled at, or sometimes even a slapped in the face. These were tough times for me.
Today I realise that I re-create this anxiety whenever I am in a similar situation. Specifically situations that involve other people, who expect a solution from me which involves a skill I have not completely mastered, or as in this case, I have not performed in years.
My friend relied on me to solve his Illustrator problem. I have not used Illustrator in this way for a long time, therefore I felt insecure about being able to do it. This was my starting point. I experienced the same type of frustration that I have been programmed with when I was a kid. The anxiety, the racing heartbeat, the inability to think straight,- it’s just like being 4 years old again, and having my mother breathing down my neck. It’s great I finally realised where this is all rooted in. During today’s session, I spoke some self-forgiveness statements and carried on completing the task and sending the file off to my friend.
Today my friend came back to me with a more complicated version of the same task. He gave me a drawing and I looked at it thinking “I can figure this out – it’s still the same logic as yesterday’s drawing.” So I got on with it, I opened Illustrator and started working. However, the problem in question was much more complicated than what it appeared to be at first sight.
There were many aspects of this situation that were transporting me back to being a small child. On the other end of my internet connection there was my friend ‘waiting’ for me to produce the file. He was already quite frustrated with himself because he could not figure it out. I felt pressured by that before I even started. All this put me in a heightened state of frustration. Twenty minutes into the task and I was completely anxiety ridden, I could not think, and drew a total blank. I was entirely occupied by my emotions. The experience was 10-fold stronger than what I experienced the day before. In some strange way, I could perceive though what was happening, I sat and felt my body being send into a frenzy. My torso tensed up to the point where it was painful. I became numb. I stopped and breathed, I slowed down. I spoke one or two self-forgiveness statements. There was so much anxiety that I could not even speak much more, or know what to speak. I have not felt like this in years.
Eventually I found a solution to the problem and completed the task. However it was far from perfect. So I tried to fudge it, tried to find a little lie to tell my friend why it was not perfect. I was dishonest. In the end I sent him the file not fully executed but gave him an approach on the problem where it would have to do bit of work himself to get it done. I knew that the basic approach was alright, and that there was one aspect of it that needed more work. We then proceeded to chat online about it and he continued working. The next day he told me that for some reason he ended up not using what I had sent him.
I see clearly that these were manufactured reactions that have been with me since childhood. I remember that when I was little these situations would terrify me to the utmost. I stop right now, I stop carrying my mother around with me. I stop and I stand up to this programming. I no longer take part in the self-abuse. I stand as equal to any and all tasks I perform.
I forgive myself for allowing myself to be afraid of someone else’s expectations of me.
I forgive myself for allowing myself to be afraid of failing in someone else’s eyes.
I forgive myself for allowing myself to be embarrassed because I might fail to accomplish a task.
I forgive myself for allowing myself to ‘feel’ pressured by someone else’s expectation of me.
I forgive myself for allowing myself to react with a blank mind when I am expected to perform a task I am not familiar with.
I forgive myself for allowing myself to be accept someone else’s frustration as my own and react to the other person’s frustration.
I forgive myself for allowing myself to ‘think’ that I must please someone else to be accepted.
I forgive myself for allowing myself to be ‘afraid’ of someone’s wrath against me if I don’t fulfill expectations that the person projects onto me.
I forgive myself for allowing myself to feel rejected by someone if I am not good enough.
I forgive myself for allowing myself to ‘think’ someone has placed expectations on me.
I forgive myself for allowing myself to ‘feel’ inferior to someone else when I am expected to perform in a certain fashion.
I forgive myself for allowing myself to be afraid of disappointing another who is counting on me.
I forgive myself for allowing myself for making the starting points of tasks-to-be-performed one of frustration, memory and self-sabotage.
I forgive myself for allowing myself to feel useless in the eyes of others.
I forgive myself for allowing myself to be afraid of making a mistake.