Initially you would think that there’s nothing wrong with preparing for the worst case scenario. I mean there’s nothing wrong with being prepared right? While that’s true we also need to make sure that we are also able to celebrate the best case scenario if that happens, or celebrate that the worst possible case did not fully happen. Therein lies the problem.
I had an amazing opportunity recently to talk to such a wonderful person, Jodi Aman, via a phone call. Along with another survivor, we were able to chat with Jodi, ask questions, and just generally pick her brain to glean all that we could from her experience and vast knowledge.
Her new book, You 1 Anxiety 0, is such an amazing resource. It’s as validating as it is encouraging as it is educational as it is down to earth and easy to understand.
So on this call, one of the things I brought up was about how I feel like I need to completely prepare for the worst case scenario in any situation. I over think, analyze, and mull over in my head, every bad thing that can happen so I can be prepared when it does (IF it does). Then, if the scenario actually pans out to be something positive, or at least not that bad, I’m surprised and relieved.
Maybe you do that too?
The problem with this is, I spend so much time figuring out how to deal with the negative that could happen, that it becomes exhausting. It causes anxiety, stress, worry, and takes up so much time that it’s mentally and physically draining. Therefore decreasing my energy level to be able to work the problem efficiently because I’ve spent so much time beating myself up and over thinking it in the first place.
What exactly does all of that accomplish other than causing me more anxiety when the anxiety is one of the major issues I’m trying get a handle in the first place?
When you break it down like that, it makes perfect sense. But it can still be hard to grasp. It’s so much easier to just stay stuck, to embrace that comfortable, familiar, thought process that I’ve perfected for decades. Keep preparing for everything bad, Matt, that’s what you’ve always done.
Consequently I have to work twice as hard to retrain my brain.
I’m not suggesting that we should just run rough shod through life and never prepare for the future, but if we take a more positive approach to dealing with the good or bad that might happen, we can be better equipped and confident to handle either situation.
What I should be doing is focusing on being confident, accepting the past, giving myself some credit, and giving myself a break because I know that I am capable of handling the problem if it does go sideways. In the same sense I should be celebrating the victories more and congratulating myself. I should take my own advice more and take solace in each victory no matter how small it may seem.
I should be empowering myself, reading affirmations regularly, and writing down a few positive things I did each day before I go to bed at night. Not to justify myself, but rather to help improve my self image by focusing on the positives in a healthy way. It takes practice, and work to change decades of negative thinking. It can be done though! I’ve witnessed it in the survivor community and in colleagues. I just have to embrace it for myself.
Be careful with saying that word “should”, it can be very damaging and cause us to shame ourselves. Use it carefully and always be kind to yourself when you are re-evaluating your life and priorities.
Another area I can apply this too is this insatiable need to justify myself at my job. If I can’t leave work each day with a big list of things that I accomplished each day, I feel like I am not worthy of the cube I sit in. I feel like I’m not pulling my own weight during my shift and I’m letting others down. I’m not content with just doing my best each day and leaving the office satisfied that I worked hard and was productive, and let it go.
Again, I’m preparing to get berated at work for not doing everything that I can, so I over emphasize every little thing in hopes of that not ever happening. Has it ever happened? No, but yet I still feel like I have to prepare for it.
That goes back to my total lack of esteem and total lack of self worth. If I can’t justify myself, my self worth plummets again and worry sets in about what “might” happen in a worst case scenario. It’s a viscous cycle that just goes round and round each day and that little hamster in my brain running in his wheel never gets a chance to breathe and take a break.
I’m challenging myself and challenging you, to not over think every scenario so often. Don’t always assume the worst is coming and that we won’t be able to handle it. Don’t always expect the worse. Consider expecting that you can handle whatever happens because you are strong and capable.
Allow yourself to enjoy life, celebrate the small victories every day, empower yourself, encourage yourself, know that you’ve come this far and you are strong! Even when you don’t always feel like you are.
The more we give ourselves credit and build up our self esteem, the better off we’ll be and better prepared to handle the worst and to celebrate the best!
Thank you again Jodi for the opportunity to speak with you, I will never forget it!