Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It's Not an Emergency Until It's an Emergency

One of the most difficult obstacles in overcoming anxiety is changing the way one views her life and all of its' intricacies.  For me this most often revolves around perfectionism in organization and cleanliness.  One of the most powerful strategies that have helped me, with the assistance of my psychologist, was a component from the book Mastery of Your Anxiety and Worry: Workbook.  There are a series of steps before beginning this one, but for some reason this is the step that made things click, so to speak.  What are the "real odds" of this really happening?  By "this" I mean whatever item/event it is that I am catastrophizing.  I was forced to realize that I really was turning the bathrooms being dirty, the floors having crumbs, or running late to bring the kids to school into a full blown emergency.  Sometimes I would yell, sometimes I would go in to another room and cry, often times I cut out my social life and put my own well being on the back burner.  And, yes, multiple times I cut.  In the beginning my insides felt as though they were twisting.  My internal organs were being squeezed by an invisible fist that made it difficult to breathe.  I, therefore, had to do whatever it took to ease this force and it had to be done fast.  Until my doctor asked me "Well, what will happen if...the floors have crumbs on them, the girls don't get to school on time, the house isn't clean before you go to bed?" I never really thought about it until then.  All I thought about was reducing the pressure in my chest because I wasn't perfect.  I also never thought about how likely it would be for that worst case scenario (which usually wasnt that bad) was to happen.  What are the odds that the teacher is going to think that I am a horrible mother because the kids didn't get to school on time one day?  What are the real odds that my family and friends are going to think I am a huge slob because I have three little girls that left crumbs on the floor from breakfast?

What are the real odds?  Is it really an emergency?  Does the situation really require an overwhelming degree of stress, thought, and strain?  Most likely...NO.  It's not an emergency until it is an emergency.

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