We are all guilty of it. 

We start a book, only to leave it a few chapters in to pursue  another book or some other distraction. We start a sewing or craft project, only to abandon it in pursuit of another that looks more interesting. Or we may have a few renovation or yard projects that only need an additional hour or so of attention before the job would be complete but we keep procrastinating. 

One of the 60 Characteristics identified in Complex Trauma is Great Starters, Poor Finishers. 

January comes and there are many who make resolutions to become more fit, lose weight or any number of goals are always set with the best of intentions. Two weeks later, we tend to fall off the wagon and by the time February 1 rolls around, we have lost all our motivation. 

Examples:

  • New job: we excel at what we do for about two weeks. Then we feel unappreciated      because the daily validation stops or we don’t get along with our coworkers. Then we quit. 
  • We buy a house and have a few renovation projects we undertake. We pursue them with enthusiasm for about two weeks. We become busy and distracted, put the tools down and walk away. 
  • Gym membership: we are excited and determined to become fit and go every day for about two weeks. The momentum wears off as we have worn our bodies out and have not seen any results. We stop going.
  • Going back to school: we are super students for about two weeks. Then the course may be too easy, too hard, boring or the instructors are not providing us enough support. We quit or change courses. 

It is a brain thing.

New pursuits give us an adrenaline rush. Our limbic brains love a new challenge and we always start out full of enthusiasm, with the best of intentions. After about two weeks, when the monotony of the routine begins to set in, we discover it may not be what we anticipated or we lose interest.

We begin to find fault with the plan and we find a way to use someone else as an excuse to quit or abandon the project.

Complex Trauma? 

Many with Complex Trauma have a hard time focusing on one project or goal at a time. Our perfectionism may be holding us back if we are unable to complete the tasks without fault. 

Or …

We become hypercritical of ourselves and others when it comes to a goal or task. The first two weeks of anything is a learning curve. It is when we need to be open to training and expect some criticism and instruction on how to succeed.  If we are hypersensitive to criticism or feel like we are failures for not getting it right the first time, these are Complex Trauma traits we need to address.

There is hope.

Creating awareness of our habits and patterns and understanding why we are unable to follow through is the first step to having those projects and goals realized. 

Some of us had parents who were also great starters and poor finishers and they are our role model. 

Overcoming this Characteristic has great rewards. If we are great starters and great finishers, we:

  • New job: work for awhile and are rewarded by being able to support ourselves and our families. We are able to support a charity, possibly a care child overseas and they write us a letter of gratitude. We are able to save a bit of money and purchase a car, home or take a trip. Gaining experience can lead to promotions, or a better job down the road. We can plan for retirement. 
  • We buy a house and have a few renovation projects we undertake. Focusing on one task at a time, completing the jobs, fills us with pride at our beautiful home. Entertaining friends and family is rewarding. 
  • Gym membership: we are excited and determined to become fit. We work with a personal trainer who sets a realistic fitness routine. After three months, we feel amazing and see results. 
  • Going back to school: we are super students and pursue our studies. This leads us to work in our chosen field or in a career we truly love. We are rewarded with an excellent workplace and ability to create a fulfilling life. 

Our limbic brain in the drivers seat keeps us hopping around from one pursuit to another. Using our cortex brain, this provides us the discipline required on our way to living a healthy, happy, joyful life. 

Imagine there is a glass of water sitting in front of us that is filled half way. Do we see it as half empty or half full? Our answer can tell us a lot about our mindset. 

People who see the glass half full depict a positive attitude, optimism and a general feeling of all is right with the world. 

For those of us who view the glass as half empty, we may be victims of a critical and negative mindset. Is this common, but dangerous headspace, is one that can be learned from our parents or other family members?

Or, do we develop this as a part of Complex Trauma? 

Many of us may be critical and not realize we are. It is possible we do if we have a tendency to:

  • Complain a lot and blame others for our woes
  • Expect the worst outcomes from people and situations
  • Always are in a hurry – rush for time and have road rage
  • Gossip about others, complain about the boss, fellow employees, wages, hours, etc.
  • Ask others “How was your day?” but don’t actually care

How do we develop this mindset? 

If exposed to people who are negative and critical as a child, our brain trains itself to look for the negative as a protective measure.  If one or both of our parents were negative we adopted the same approach. We may have learned this way of coping drives people away and makes it easy to avoid healthy relationships or connect with others. 

Other possible reasons may include:

  • Our inner critic believes it’s easier to judge and find fault – this is our shame
  • Feeds our sense of self-worth or value – find something negative in order to feel superior
  • Grew up with a double standard and had to live up to unrealistic expectations 
  • Use it as an excuse to blame our problems and lack of happiness on others 

What are we teaching our children? 

Children who grow up with parents who have a negative and critical attitude tend to shut down, hide and feel they can’t be themselves. They may develop anxiety, depression and feel hopeless as anything they do or try is never good enough. 

They become afraid to open up, share their hearts, ideas and dreams in fear of being judged, criticized or put down. A negative and critical environment does a lot of damage to a child.

If we find ourselves resonating with the above information, we may be a victim. When we grow up in a family who gravitates to a negative or critical mindset, is there a more positive way to live?

Yes.

Complex Trauma is the underlying cause that lurks in our background. Understanding how our parents actions negativity rewired our brains, in order to keep us safe, is the first step to creating awareness. 

Evolving research over the last 25 years has exposed this field of study, opening new doors into successful, trauma recovery. We are pioneers in this field and our programs effectively transform Complex Trauma at the deepest levels.

It is more than developing a positive attitude or changing out negative thoughts for positive ones. True transformation comes with self-awareness. When we uncover the root cause and learn how to control our thought patterns, we can stop the cycle of negativity in our lives and see positive results. 

Life can and does change.  Visit timfletcher.ca to learn how.