Since first recognizing I had anxiety disorder in that college psychology class my freshman year, I have seen a few therapists over the years. Some were helpful. Some were not. But that is not the point to this post. When I went to the psychologist about 9 years ago I wrote down eight sentences while speaking with her. It is cool to see how far I’ve come since then. The last time I went to this therapist (about 7 years ago) she said, “Honestly, I think you have a really good handle on life. ”
1. Think before speaking or acting.
This is definitely something I am still working on, for sure. However, I do recognize I have yielded to this more in the last few years. I used to yell. A LOT. It made my kids cry. It made me cry. I still raise my voice, but what parent doesn’t? I’ve learned to take a deep breath before speaking to them, and I can deal with their behaviors in a more calm, sane fashion. I often remind the kids to think before they speak or act as well. In fact I use the acronym, THINK.
T=is it TIME?
H=is is HELPFUL?
I=is it INSPIRING?
N=is it NECESSARY?
K=is it KIND?
2. Ask yourself, “Does it really matter? Is it a big deal?”
The answer to this is usually NO. In the midst of an argument whether between my husband and me, or between the children, or even between the children and me, I often find myself asking this and the argument ends. Sometimes I have to concede, but that’s alright, because really whatever we were arguing about is silly. The joke (aka the TRUTH) is that I am right 99.9% of the time, but I never have a problem accepting when I am wrong. Seriously, Marc. Kids. I don’t!
3. Sometimes you just have to keep your mouth shut.
I wish I knew what this was in reference to 9 years ago, but my guess is has something to do with stating my opinion about everything. Everyone knows I am an open book and have no qualms about sharing my thoughts, opinions, etc, but I have learned that not everyone is interested. People like to figure out things on their own, and sometimes in the process they have to make their own mistakes despite the fact you may have made those same mistakes and are just trying to help. I have become better about asking if someone wants to hear what I think about a subject (say raising an infant) rather than just imparting my wisdom or experiences on them willy nilly. Most people are going to do things the way they want to no matter what advice they receive from others. And that is perfectly ok!
4. Don’t catastrophize.
My husband did not think this was a word, so of course since I am 99.9% right I had to look it up. The definition is, “to view or talk about (an event or situation) as worse than it actually is, or as if it were a catastrophe : Stop catastrophizing and get on with your life! She tends to catastrophize her symptoms.” Apparently the therapist must have said this to me which I found humorous as I know people who do this much worse than I ever did! I am lucky my husband is so grounded as he often remarks, “Don’t worry. What’s the worse that could happen?” Generally, that is enough to put it in perspective. Honestly, I can’t think of the last time he’s said that to me, so I must be better at not catastrophizing! (That is also a word. I just looked it up to be sure!) However, perhaps because of my training as an athletic trainer or perhaps because of my anxiety disorder, it is inevitable that I am always looking at ways to prevent injury, catastrophe, etc. For instance, recently our kids were sledding near a brick building and I was concerned. My husband was not. Not a half hour after we let them go, my son came running home to tell me our daughter ran into the metal pole and fence on her sled and was really hurt. Luckily, she only had cuts and bruises on her face and shoulder, but as I explained to my husband she could have hit her head and suffered a concussion. Had she hit the building with her head it could have been much worse.
5. Learn to let go. Learn to go with the flow.
Well, this one took a long time to get a grip on. Honestly, it wasn’t until this past fall, I learned to let go. You can read all about it in the post I wrote recently, Let It Go (Part 2). I am learning to go with the flow more, although I still do very much like to have a schedule!
6. Love the one you’re with. We hurt the one we are most comfortable with.
Why is this the case? I hate it. I think I do a pretty good job of not lashing out at my husband and kids. Although, there are times I immediately apologize for snapping or yelling. In the past, I never apologized. I try to always think of the Golden Rule. “Treat others the way you want to be treated. ” And when I don’t, I recognize it and make amends.
7. Choose my words and timing.
People are fragile. The context and manner in which you phrase certain things is important. Right before bed or before a big meeting isn’t always the best plan, even if it’s best for you. For someone with anxiety, this can cause more anxiety (waiting to talk at the right time), but if others are involved you must think of them, too. I think perhaps this is why I like writing…because I can choose my words more carefully and edit and edit and edit before I actually hit publish. If I am sending an important or sensitive email I have my husband take a second look to make sure I have chosen the right words, as it is difficult to detect tone in an email.
8. Stop trying to control what I lost in the past by controlling all the little things now.
As a toddler, and then again as a teen-ager I had to deal with the divorce of my parents. It impacted me in many ways and for a long time I held onto a lot of fear, angst, and loss. I was skeptical and pessimistic, and tried to keep everything in a neat, tidy bubble. I was very closed off and did not let people in very easily. In the past nine years I have certainly seen a lot of growth in this area. I began to realize that the tighter I held onto the reigns, the more anxiety I had, and it did not change anything in the past. It certainly made living in the present more difficult. I do believe it is best to leave the past alone and get on with life. I think my husband’s favorite phrase to say to me is, “The past is the past. It already happened. There is nothing you can do about it now.” So true. Move on. Live your life in the present.