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I can't celebrate accomplishments about routine

Thread starter #1
I have been trying to adopt a routine for a while now and struggling mightily. I have massive resistance to it. I got to where I could just try to make sure that I do the things I want to do, without writing them down, and it doesn't really work.

Here's my issue. I know that celebrating accomplishments is important. The way I usually do that is through my diary, by recognizing them. That's kind of a celebration, because I'm saying I'm proud of myself and then if a member congratulates me it feels like a celebration. So I probably need to do more "real celebrations" like saying positive things out loud and focusing on a positive activity, whether its food or dancing or whatever.

But when it comes to routine, there is a very forceful part of me that gets angry if I even think about celebrating that I did a routine. The thought of celebrating makes me cringe inside and feel angry and then like I need to numb the anger. Then that makes me want to drop the routine.

This is what I hear from some part of me, "I'll do it if I do it, okay? Just back off!"

So my core belief that needs to change is that I can't celebrate accomplishments with routine. If I just celebrate anyway then I'm celebrating with parts of me angry and vowing revenge.

I know *why* this is. My abuser dad used his routine to control us. His routine took precedent over all others, and no effort was made on his part (or my mom's) to encourage me with my own routine. From Dad, it was just, "Do it this way, when I say, or else be punished." And, "If you impede my routine at all you will suffer." So it makes sense that I associated routine with "I'm getting punished." And it makes sense that some parts of me are deeply opposed to routine.

But I'm recovered somewhat now and I recognize that routines are actually helpful for children and adults. I'm just not sure how to get one myself. They always seem to disintegrate.
 
#2
Would you be helped by dropping thinking of it as a routine, altogether...

And think of it as activities you enjoy, to various degrees, or that are beneficial to your life, even if you don't enjoy them, instead?

As in I would weight how much of the issue is one with activities themselves, and joy...

Vs the meaning the abuser assigned those activities and you internalized to survive, and joy.

Eventually... if you need more greyzones -

What in his routines was yours and not really his, even in years with him?
 
#3
But when it comes to routine, there is a very forceful part of me that gets angry if I even think about celebrating that I did a routine. The thought of celebrating makes me cringe inside and feel angry and then like I need to numb the anger. Then that makes me want to drop the routine
1. How about reward or bounty? Can you reward yourself for a routine,
or offer a bounty on a task/series of tasks without the pushback?

2. How much are you patterning YOUR routine on the abusive asshat’s? And, if at all, does it suit you right down to the ground, or is it what you think a routine is “supposed” to be, rather than a rhythm that works well in your own life?
 
#4
I have been trying to adopt a routine for a while now and struggling mightily. I have massive resistance to it.
Thing is, pretty much everyone struggles massively with creating new routines. As humans, we’re hardwired for familiarity and keeping things the same. So, any kind of behavioural change/creating new habits etc is really challenging and it’s often a bumpy road making them happen in the first place and then sustaining them.

Add to that your history and the impact of your dad’s routines...well, that’s another layer of emotional complexity. It’s no wonder you’re feeling massive resistance.


I know that celebrating accomplishments is important.
Is it though? Necessarily?

Recognising (as in noticing) accomplishments is certainly useful.
Not sure whether that necessarily means ‘celebrating.’ And I’m not meaning to be pedantic about language with that. I just mean if the idea of ‘celebration’ is part of what makes this extra challenging and uncomfortable for you, is there another way of thinking about it which may have let emotional intensity for you?

And I also agree with @Ronin that perhaps the word ‘routine’ is something you could replace/reframe with something less emotive for you?


So I probably need to do more "real celebrations" like saying positive things out loud and focusing on a positive activity,
Again. I just question that ‘need to.’ There are many ways you can support yourself in making changes. Acknowledging achievements is one way. So is rewarding yourself. So is making yourself accountable somehow (or asking someone else to be your ‘accountability buddy’. So is chunking the change down really small so making one small change that you can do consistently feels so-able and is achievable rather than feeling daunted and overwhelmed with lots of things to do/change all at once...


I recognize that routines are actually helpful for children and adults.
Yes...this is pretty widely accepted advice...that routine and structure are helpful for people. That said, it’s more useful and desirable for some more than others. While some people love it, thrive on it and feel totally lost without it, other people prefer more freedom, fluidity and potential for spontaneity.

I see a lot of shoulds and assumptions in your post:
- you should get a routine as routine is good for people
- when you set up this routine, you should celebrate it
- because this is what you should do with any accomplishment

I wonder if, rather than keep forcing yourself to try to act according to these statements and applying labels that may perhaps be emotionally loaded for you (like routine and celebration) you could try to set those things a side and try to tune into what you really want to do and what you really think would benefit you. Do you actively want to start a new routine? Does the idea of having a new routine feel good to you? Or does it just feel like it’s something you should/need to do? If you don’t really want it, it’s going to be hell-ish difficult to make it happen and make it stick. And, if you don’t really want it and if the thought of having that change in place doesn’t feel pretty great, why even bother, really?! Not everyone needs or likes it.

Just sounds like you’re trying to force it at the moment when there is a lot of resistance around it. Sometimes, yeah, it’s totally worthwhile trying to chip away at our resistance to things.
But, reading your post, I just found myself thinking if this approach is causing you such stress and pressure, why not stop? I don’t mean that at all glibly, so hope it doesn’t come across that way. But sometimes, if something is hard, do we have to keep making it harder for ourselves? Or can we look to see if we can make anything easier? If the idea of making this new structure really feels right to you but this way of ‘celebrating routine’ seems to be an issue, perhaps try another way?

Wishing you luck with it and please don’t be too hard on yourself - long term, sustainable behavioural change is hard!
 
Thread starter #5
First of all, thank you for responding. I do appreciate it. That said, I will warn you that I had a lot of anger rising up when reading the responses, which I fully own as related to my resistance. Which makes me think, maybe I'm not ready to face this issue, maybe I *am* forcing it, which is something I need to be sensitive toward. I am developing the ability to be sensitive to when I am forcing an issue.
I would still like to respond though. My anger is on the back-burner and I feel hopeful that there are some little darts of truth that will lodge in my brain.

What in his routines was yours and not really his, even in years with him?
Nothing. Nothing.

This reminds me. Last session I shared with T one of my many dreams I've been having lately where Dad is in it and he's being aggravating but not terrifying. She asked me what part of me he represented. I said that I do not yet feel like I can identify with him in my dreams. I still feel completely separate from him and do not like the idea of thinking that he represents any part of me.

I am just noticing that to notice it.

activities you enjoy, to various degrees, or that are beneficial to your life, even if you don't enjoy them
"Activities I enjoy, or are beneficial to my life, even if I don't enjoy them" are categories that feel less loaded.

is it what you think a routine is “supposed” to be, rather than a rhythm that works well in your own life?
Perhaps. This is helpful. I can imagine a rhythm that works well in my own life, but it seems like a big jump to write it down.

I just realized that the asshat (thank you for that pronoun) didn't write down his routine. His routine was whatever he was doing. So writing anything down, related to my rhythm, would not be following in his footsteps at all.

everyone struggles massively with creating new routines.
Important to remember. It's typical to feel the resistance in this area of life.

Not sure whether that necessarily means ‘celebrating.’
I like the idea of questioning the emotional load of the words themselves. Celebrating is only one way people might choose to support changing their habits.

There are many ways you can support yourself in making changes.
I will think about other ways. Thank you for examples of other ways.

labels that may perhaps be emotionally loaded for you (like routine and celebration) you could try to set those things a side
Yes, this is a good way to face the cognitive distortion. Look at the words themselves.

I don't feel angry in responding to you all's words. I only felt angry when I immediately read them, but I feel calm in my responses. I feel rational. I feel stable. I feel like I have some ideas for facing this cognitive distortion. I feel like it will take effort on my part, and I realize that is normal when developing new habits.
 
#6
Celebrating is only one way people might choose to support changing their habits.
Yeah, I think going from routine being trauma-loaded to 'celebrating' is a pretty huge leap. Maybe there's an easier middle step you could introduce (I find language around these things powerful), like acknowledging.

So, acknowledging the parts of your routine you pulled off today, and that it feels okay, not awful or scary or traumatic. Just, "I did this, and I feel okay". Rewire the brain to "this isn't dangerous" before "Let's celebrate".

I love ticking boxes. It's simple, and visual, so avoids language, which can make things emotionally loaded. Got a function meter (tasks to achieve each day), and tick boxes when they get done. Feels safe.

Lots of different ways to move forward. Hope you find one that works for you:)
 
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