Tuesday, December 13, 2011

More on confirming negativity

I have so much that I want to say and explain to my readers.  Each time something 'clicks' in my head, I am SO excited to share it and to answer any questions anyone might have.

Today I will touch again on another way that I have confirmed the negativity in my mind.  About 8 years ago I became very fearful.  Call it what you want..it was classified as agoraphobia, social anxiety, OCD, and general anxiety disorder.  As I began to challenge what I knew were very irrational fears I had to discover a 'safe' way to begin exposing myself.  I started to ask myself "what is the absolute worst that can happen?"...how about some examples:

I would be scared to call for a doctors appointment.  What's the worst that could happen?  I am not able to speak, I can't make my needs known, the person on the other end laughs at me.  If any of those things happen, I can hang up.  Therefore, the worst that could happen is managable so I could go ahead and make the phone call.


I would be challenging some rules I had such where the plates had to be placed in the cupboard.  What is the worst that could happen if I changed the arrangement?  I would be very anxious and uncomfortable, I would feel dirty and my kitchen would feel dirty, I may not be able to eat off of these plates again.  There are solutions to all of those...I could become stronger by sitting with my anxiety and discomfort; I have over one hour before I have to be anywhere so I can wash all the dishes and the cupboards if I need to to feel 'safe' again; if I cannot use those plates, I still have two on another shelf that I can use until I find a new set or feel comfortable with these plates again.  Again, I could go ahead with the challenge.

At this point, it was a helpful technique for me because instead of being overwhelmed by fear, I was able to ask myself what it was that I was afraid of and from there decide whether it was a fear that could be overcome.  I allowed myself the most irrational possibilities (like a bridge collapsing and someone dying) to really identify what was driving my fear.  Gently, I was able to have the fears and continue to live rather than be debiliated by them.

Eventually, this became a way to keep myself from being disappointed.  It extended to all of my interactions...  The worst that could happen was that someone wouldn't like me, wouldn't be able to provide me with what I needed, I would prove that I really was stupid, people couldn't live up to my expectations, etc.  It was a way of protecting myself and limiting my expectations of others and myself.

It seemed like a skill for so long but now I see it so differently.  Imagine that what the mind receives and holds onto most aptly is negativity.  Therefore I am more likely to remember the times that 'the worst that could happen' did happen and thus perpetuate all the negativity that came along with that (feeelings of failure, rejection, worthlessness, etc).  Now, I am trying to see the positive possibilities of interactions, events, efforts, challenges and when I meet a possibility I am so fullfilled and when something goes wrong and things go in a different direction I no longer see it as failure but as something to learn from to change it for next time.

I have let go of expectations, largely.  Of course, I am not perfect and still hold onto some expectations for myself and for others but slowly, I am recognizing those as non-productive.  It is freeing to be able to consider the wonderful possibilities of everything.  It is liberating to be able to leave expectations at the door and take each moment, each person, each interaction, each experience just as it is and no longer as it 'should be'.  There is such beauty already in what is and I have hidden that from myself for so long as I sought out what might go wrong.

Now, I seek to confirm what is positive.  This is what makes dreams come true (cheesey as that sounds).  My other way of thinking made nightmares bearable but now I realize that it doesn't have to be that way.

I think that is my discussion for today.

My family arrives tomorrow for the holidays and I don't know that I will have much time to write but I will, as is possible.

With all my love and holiday cheer,

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