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Monday, October 20, 2014

What If...Lightening Strikes?

Anxiety....humor? This use to be a big problem for me. Learn to shut it off!


Its Monday.  For some people, this means 5 days of stress and anxiety.  Others may feel this way 7 days a week.

I have openly discussed my struggle with anxiety.  I has been there since I was a child.  Its been better at some points and worse at others, but it will probably always be an area of vulnerability.

I am certainly not alone.  So many of my counselling clients describe themselves as 'worriers'.  Worry and anxiety lay along a continuum.  Some anxiety, believe it or not, is a good thing.  It is a motivator.  It encourages us to be vigilant.  But too much wreaks havoc on your mind and body.  It can cause panic attacks, chronic insomnia and even generalized anxiety disorder.  I have had the insomnia and I've had the generalized anxiety disorder.  It ain't fun.

Part of what often fuels anxiety is the fear of uncertainty.  Few people cope well with it.  We all feel better when we feel we are in control and know what to expect.  The problem is, in reality, we never are truly in control or can anticipate the future.  Ever.

Those who struggle the most are those that catastrophize (Guilty as charged!  But I'm much better about this now and can stop when I start going down this path).   For example, many of my infertility clients will become consumed by anxiety and depression before they even start treatment because they start imagining the worst case scenario.  Women seem to do this more than men.

Often we tell ourselves that if we imagine the worst, either it will be less likely to actually happen, and/or we will be more prepared if it does happen.  Neither are really true.  We end up spending a great deal of time suffering needlessly.

Although I don't meditate, in the strict sense of the word, I try to practice what I consider the most useful tenets of the Mindfulness tradition, which is to try and make peace with uncertainty and to not stop striving for what we want to change, but to accept that things are not as we want them right now.

Stay in the present.  Don't write a story that hasn't happened yet.  As my favorite fridge magnet says,

                                      Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday

Remember, most things turn out okay.  And when they don't, crisis is an opportunity. Have a lovely start to the week.

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