It is important as you work to overcome anxiety and keep perspective remember how we can all have a bad moment or a bad day. A blip is not a failure!
My client called in a panic about eight weeks into the program.
“It’s not working,” she sobbed. “I was doing well, but yesterday I decided I needed to go to the pharmacy and as I drove there the panic came over me and I had to drive straight home. It felt like I did not even have time to challenge my thinking, process my positives or think about anything before the panic took hold and I had to go. I think what I should have done was pull over and calm down, but I could not think of it at the time.”
I waited a moment.
“It felt so weird,” she said. “Earlier in the day I went to work, had an impromptu lunch with a couple of friends, I stopped off at the supermarket and picked up a few things and then I spent time in the garden planting tomatoes”.
“Why didn’t you text or call yesterday when it was happening,” I asked.
“Oh, sorry, I was too busy. When I got home I made some tea, calmed myself down and then showered and got ready to go to my art class that I started a couple of weeks ago.”
“How was that?” I asked idly.
“It was great!” she answered with enthusiasm. “I have always wanted to learn to paint but could not commit to classes in the past in case I could not make it.”
“So, it seems like you had a pretty successful day yesterday” I commented.
“Not really,” she exclaimed, “I lost control of my thinking”.
“Well, it is good that you recognize that YOU lost control of your thinking.” I paused a moment.
“What are some of the things you can do now that you couldn’t do when we started?” I asked.
There was a long pause – I admit I got nervous in case she said there weren’t any! But I knew that wasn’t the case.
“Hmm,” she said, “There are a lot of things, but I cannot seem to think of them! Going about my day without second guessing everything and planning for every contingency just feel so NORMAL. Last week I went swimming with a friend and she said ‘it’s amazing. Only a few weeks ago you would not have come with me!’ When she said that I really had to stop and think because just accepting her invitation when she suggested a swim on a hot day just seemed so normal! We even stopped for an ice cream on the way home!”
“You were keeping a list of 10 challenges at the start. Do you still have it?”
Tools to stay on track
She pulled out the list and started to read. “It’s actually 11′, she said.
1. Go back to work full- time.
2. Go to the store whenever I need to without planning for days beforehand.
3. Meet up with friends on a whim and not have to have detailed plans weeks ahead.
4. Walk the dog on my own.
5. Be out in the back yard – grow vegetables!
6. Take educational classes in person instead of online.
7. Go to the dentist on my own without medication.
8. Go to the doctor on my own.
9. Enjoy restaurants and bars.
10. Have a glass of wine with my husband from time to time.
11. Learn to manage my own thinking and get myself on track.
Before I could say another word, she sighed and started to smile. “I am being a little hard on myself,” she said. “My biggest problem is that maybe I have become a little lazy and complacent! I need to make sure that I keep practicing, noticing my self-talk, visualizing and working with my positives. I am getting so used to being able to just do whatever I want or need to without worrying that I sometimes forget to pay attention to what is bubbling up inside my head!”
She laughed and said she thought she was done for the day.
We all have wobbly days. We may be unusually tired and stressed and we relegate management of our thinking to focus on something else. But they are just that – a wobble. My mother used to say to me “One swallow does not a summer make” whenever I said that something must be true because it had happened once.
One wobble does not a failure make. Learn from the wobble, get back to basics and get back on track!
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