Negative Tapes

A few weeks ago I had a very bad day.  Maybe more than one day.  Here’s a little bit of how it went.

I needed to get dog food that day.  The can was completely empty, so that was the day I needed to go.  The dog food I use (BTW, Costco brand dog food has some pretty good reviews, and it has glucosamine right in it) is in the big city.  But actually it is in 3 big cities.  I couldn’t decide which city I wanted to go to.  I couldn’t decide what else I wanted to do for fun.  I couldn’t decide what/when/where I wanted to eat while I was there.  I put my head down on the table and thought what is wrong with you?  You can’t even make a decision about how to have fun.

Before I left, I played a couple of video games on my Kindle Fire.  Negative tape:  What a loser.  You are wasting your entire life playing stupid video games.  Actual time elapsed:  15 minutes.

I finally figured out a plan, but before I left, I did a quick vacuum.  This time of year, I don’t even put the vacuum away.  I usually vacuum every day or two (thank you, Noah.)  Negative tape:  you are such a slob.  Why don’t you vacuum more often/better/more thoroughly?

I headed out to the car, but before I left, I went over and worked on the wood pile for a bit. I straightened up some of the stacks, and brought in some wood for the wood stove, and then covered the stacks with the tarps.  There was news of a storm coming in.  Negative tape:  (for weeks previous–what is wrong with you?  You can’t even get outside to even up your stacks of firewood?  What a lazy bum.)  That day–what a half-assed job you did.  Other people have such neat stacks of firewood.  What is wrong with you?

I got in the car to leave, and it hit me.  Evidently, almost nothing I did was good enough.

I am not a psychologist, or even a self-acceptance blogger.  Karen does that much better than me.  I hesitated to write about this because I don’t have a definitive solution for it.  I do think that recognizing a problem is half the battle.  I’m not sure the Stuart Smalley approach is helpful.  Although just watching that does make me laugh.

I don’t do daily affirmations.  But I have thought about what I do accomplish, and why I don’t accomplish all that I think I should.  I talked to my best friend.  She knows me better than almost anybody, and she is good about being truthful AND affirming at the same time.  She asked, “exactly how many hours in a day do you think its acceptable to be ‘slovenly?’ (my word, not hers.)  I thought about it and said, well, I guess I think that no time is acceptable for that.

Last Saturday, I got to meet up with one of my very long time blog friends!! (ack—bad blogger admission here-no photographic evidence!)  Juice just recently moved out here all the way from Baltimore.  And she mentioned to me that owning her own home, and all the upkeep and repairs that go with that, had caused her more anxiety than she had realized. This was a good reminder to me.  Keeping up a house is a lot of work for one person.

And then there’s the whole aging thing.  Oh, Iets talk about that tomorrow, when I can stand it better…

Just so you know, I am fine.  I don’t need any positive affirmations or anything.  In fact, I waited until I was feeling more positive to actually write this blog.  Probably the very best thing for me to do is to actually PRAY the serenity prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Much better than yelling “SERENITY NOW,”  don’t you think?

I don’t think dogs have negative tapes, do you?

Sophie, in her favorite alternative throne and a rare moment of serenity:

Monk, serenity-master (Mr. Monk had a dental with four extractions and some surgery on his foot this week–came through with flying colors!):

Bess, practicing serenity in Mr. Monk’s chair:

Noah, in a serene moment:

And on a completely unrelated subject, I found this Muppets video on “The Cat Came Back” LOL-worthy.

13 thoughts on “Negative Tapes

  1. Hey there friend, here’s my two cents worth……..Although it’s been well over a year, maybe close to two, I think days like this are a part of the transition from a professional career that defined you (I mean that in a positive way) into the new lifestyle of retirement. I have now been retired for 10 years and still occasionally have days EXACTLY as you’ve described. It starts with a sense of restlessness, morphs into complete discontent and inability to make any reasonable decisions, and eventually ends up with guilt over how fortunate I feel to be retired when so many are still working at jobs they hate or wish they didn’t have to continue doing. Quilt that I actually have days with no set agenda or nothing that I HAVE to do on that day. When I start trying to force myself into conjuring up some “fun” agenda, I go directly to the negative tapes you are talking about. I rarely go through this negative cycle any longer, but when I first began reading your words, it was such a vivid replica of many days just like the once you described that occurred within the first few years of my retirement. Any identification there or am I completely off base??

    • VERY interesting! I rarely have thoughts about “I should go back to work.” But I do think a lot about my co-workers. I also sometimes have guilt about not having to work while other people I know don’t have this luxury. I didn’t put the two together, but they very well could be related. Thanks for the input!

  2. I thought I was the only person who took the blame for every stupid thing, regardless of what caused it. It’s a bad cycle, this negativity (see? one more thing to feel bad about!), and I feel for you. And while I regularly rely on the Serenity Prayer, there are times when yelling SERENITY NOW!!! just feels better. 😉

    No real help from me, just empathy. Oh and appreciation for the shot of Sophie in the laundry basket.

    • Of course! That was just for you. She loves that laundry basket, and since it is a clean doggie blanket in there, I hate to put it away. Also, this morning, I was wishing I could have taken a movie for you of her rigamarole routine getting into it. It was hilarious.

      And yes, you are exactly right, that it is a bad cycle. I guess that’s why I’m hoping that actually recognizing it will help me to break that cycle.

      • …and I was wondering, seriously, how she got in there – those sides are high for such little legs!

  3. Well I almost hate to admit it but I’ve had more days like the type you described than good ones lately. So easy to stay dragged down once it starts isn’t it? Even this morning as I was admitting to myself that I’m feeling better with the return of exercise, I had a moment when i thought, “I can’t do anything right.” Terrible and thankfully I was able to put the kabosh on it.

    I think Sharon may be on to something there about the life transition. Makes sense anyway.

    I’m much more of a Serenity Now! yeller than pray-er 😉

  4. Hugs Debby. The negative pull is so, so much stronger than the positive, isn’t it? I think writing it out is good, though. Writing a blog post doesn’t have to be like a TV show that sets up a conflict and then resolves it in 30 minutes. Sometimes writing it out and rereading it can be like seeing it with fresh new eyes and a different way of tackling it.

    We yell SERENITY NOW around here, too. Isn’t it so funny how one tiny blip on TV can become part of a culture?

    • I like that idea that a blog post doesn’t have to be like a 30 minute tv show!

      And yes. That makes it doubly funny to me–that a silly sitcom could still be affecting us this much later.

  5. I think I’m the Queen of the Negative Spiral (or perhaps just a Princess–something with a tiara, anyway). It’s amazing how quickly it can take hold, and seemingly out of nowhere.

    When I catch myself in the thought process, I do as suggested by Dr. Wayne Dyer in “Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits” and ask myself :” Is this true?” In almost every instance, whatever negative tape I have running at the moment is paused while I think about it and then stopped when I realize that it’s NOT true. And just that quickly, I’m not a candidate for “Hoarders” but someone who’s simply behind on her housework. I’m not on the verge of regaining 100 pounds from eating an extra cookie. I’m not a failure at *everything* just because one thing didn’t work out. And so on. (I’ve got a million of ’em.)

    I also use the Serenity Prayer AND the “Serenity Now!” affirmation, sometimes during the same event. 🙂

  6. God, give me grace to accept with serenity
    the things that cannot be changed,
    Courage to change the things
    which should be changed,
    and the Wisdom to distinguish
    the one from the other.
    Living one day at a time,
    Enjoying one moment at a time,
    Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
    Taking, as Jesus did,
    This sinful world as it is,
    Not as I would have it,
    Trusting that You will make all things right,
    If I surrender to Your will,
    So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
    And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

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