Week 7. Delayed Skillset


2/15/20244 min read

black iPhone 7
black iPhone 7

Things like emotional regulation, response to stressors, learning how to socialize, how to communicate effectively and many more, are things we should have learned at home, from our caregivers. Let that sink in for a minute. Ok, resuming. Not all of us were that lucky to grow up with regulated, self aware and emotionally available, mature people so the skills that we supposed to have learned early in our developmental journey were delayed until we are mature enough to take responsibility for our own emotional growth and relationship health. It’s hard to admit that being 30, 50 or even 70 years old we need to learn the skills a 2 year old naturally is wired to develop but the reality hits hard when we don’t, by difficult situations, failed relationships and suffering, caused by self-sabotaging behaviors. It wreaks havoc in our lives so we’re left with two choices here: not changing a thing and further suffering or deciding to make our life work, no matter how far back we need to go to fix things.

I first found out about my “half-empty package” of emotional regulation skills from my therapist, which to them seemed obvious. To me, I had no idea I was half baked. Side track: this is a serious topic and for me it was daunting and devastatingly sad to find out all this but I don’t want to make it a sad topic for you. You get to choose if you want to see the beautiful opportunity to reinvent yourself and learn new tools for life or if it’s devastating to have to do what your caregivers missed. The only reason I can joke about this part of my experience is because I owned it, and you can too (own your life and your story, not necessarily to joke about it). Getting back on track. So, after realizing what skills I needed (therapist helped there but it’s quite easy to identify it with the help of close friends or generally people that are in your life and can see how you act and react in situations) I tried to find out how people who have those skills act and how they developed them. Here, the good ol’ research on the internet comes handy, only I have to warn you to use your discernment. There’s a lot of not so good advice, especially when it comes to relationships and games of all sorts on how to “get that person”. Of course, only gathering information won’t work if you won’t apply it, so you’ll have to put your toe into those deep waters but it’s usually worse not to do that so even on those tough days, please remember that you’re doing this for yourself and the generations to come, most likely. You may not realize that on the spot but people, even the ones who don’t know you, they see you, and how you live your life. Even by standing in a line all emotionally regulated, stress free, you show people around you that it’s possible, that they can do that too and it creates a ripple effect so don’t discount your self development. It shines through your pores and in the way you live your life.

I heard a thought this week that stuck with me: on our birthdays we celebrate becoming, say 25 years old, but at the same time we’re still 24, 20, 17, 11, 8, 2 years old, and all the years that we’ve lived so far too. We are all of that at the same time so we can sometimes hear a song and feel like we’re 17 again, feel the wet grass with our fingers and be happy like a 4 year old, despite being in our 50’s. So, riffing on the theme. This week my 2-year-old self rose with tantrums, my teenage self refused to get up and do anything productive - it was a mess but I realized that my whole self just had an emotionally tough, overwhelming week so the parts of me that I didn’t get to be expressed at their respective times rose up when I least expected but that is OK. That way, what was left unexpressed way back, can be released now and make way for current things to come through. I do have some wisdom and tools to recognize that, which was not the case for me only three years ago. Back then I would have freaked out and thought that I was going crazy. I must say, I had quite a shallow basket of skills so after gaining the one my therapist pointed out to me, I had to collect a bunch more so it’s an ongoing process, so be prepared to stick with it. For example, only a few months ago I found out that I had no skills to tackle stress, that’s why I kept burning out. It wasn’t fun to find out but when I did, I could do something about it (nervous system regulation helped me, if you’re struggling with it too). My point is, it’s not always easy to choose a better life for yourself, especially when you had a bumpy start of the ride (usually it comes with lower self-worth, which hinders a path towards bettering our lives) but I hope you see how important it is for yourself, and for others around you.

Have a joyful week.