I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

If you can see it

This evening I went out to the movies with some girlfriends...(sidebar: We went to see Slumdog Millionaire. Go see it.) Anyway I was telling the girls how I am filled to the brim with anxiety about our upcoming trip to California. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to see my family, thrilled for my nephew about his Bar Mitzvah, and I am almost counting the minutes to giving my best friend the biggest hug of her life. For a whole host of reasons, I'm feeling very anxious about it all.

Anxiety is something I've dealt with a lot this year. I think previously I might have called it stress, but the reality of it is that stress is not what happens when you freak out totally over things which have not yet happened. Stress is not what you're under when you are imagining several bad outcomes to a problem and become convinced that there can be nothing BUT a bad outcome. Stress is also not what you're dealing with when you call your DH and start talking a mile a minute and getting louder and louder until he literally has to shout, 'STOP. WAIT. Just stop! And breathe!"

Anywhoo, before you all send me to the head shrinker for this, suffice it to say I've promised myself that this year will be a bit less...well...stressful. (And no, it's not an actual resolution. Please!) It's just an effort to be more mindful of it all, and to not let my imagination run away with me quite so much and quite so often.

So back to the movie night...so I'm telling the girls how I'm chock-full of anxiety about it all. Truthfully, some of the reasons for this feeling are warranted - because I know myself, I know the players involved, and I know how I feel when confronted with the things which surely will come up. Truth be told, some of the reasons for this feeling are not warranted - I'm worrying in advance about things happening, people saying things, and my reactions to those words.

My friend Cocoa had a suggestion which I am now mulling over. She suggested that I sit down and visualise what I want this trip to be like. In your mind, says Cocoa, paint a picture of what things will happen while you're there. Imagine what you, DH and the trio will be doing, all the fun you'll be having...and just, imagine a happy, bright time. Don't waste your time and energy thinking about all the emotional crap stuff - because - thinking and worrying about those things will only BRING THEM ON. In Cocoa's view, we INVITE in the bad stuff because we allow it to become part of our expectations...and therefore when our expectations are met, we're somehow relieved, but not in a good way.

I have to admit, it's food for thought. However, I am such a literal, non-spiritual, non-alternative thinking-stuff sort of person that it's a little hard for me to believe her. It's all a bit to "The Secret" for me, you know? At the same time, I've been mulling it over ever since she suggested it. I kinda like the idea of a little space in my brain where everything is all happy and nice and, well, CALM. The "yeah, right" side of my brain knows that people, attitudes, circumstances and history don't ever change...so why waste my time imagining that all these things will not be there when I arrive at the other end?

Hmmm. The jury's still out on this one.


Laura said...

I give myself a checkpoint for stress. I freak out if I think I am going to be late to anything. So say I am to be there at 930, and it is 915 and we are just walking out the door when it takes pver 20 mins to normally get there. I give myself permission to freak out at 9:27 if I am not almost there. Generally, by 9:27 I have a fairly good idea about if I am going to be late and normally it doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would.

Maybe give yourself permission to stress when you actually get there vs now, while you are still here. Save yourself from high blood pressure while you are still an ocean away.

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

An excellent suggestion Laura ... and the problem really is TOO much advance worrying, which only makes my time at home stressful, too! I love the idea of "permission" to stress - kinda breaks it down into a far more manageable chunk, doesn't it? Almost as though just the knowledge you CAN stress makes the stress itself far more minimal. I'm going to give this a try and report back!


the baker's wife said...

I love Cocoa's idea. I live with a person who suffers the kind of pre-emptive, self-induced stress you talk about and I am constantly explaining to him the 'most likely good' outcomes of a situation to get him off the bad train of thought he has. And slowly, it's working, because he's a bit less grim nowdays compared to when we met- 11 years ago! Keep practicing.

Also remember that you can't change the way other people behave but you can change your own behaviour / reactions.

Have a great trip!

Bonnie said...

Hi - Just found your blog from Best of Blogs somewhere .... likee.

Anxiety's a state I know well, and just tonight I was thinking: I'm so stressed out and it's all just thoughts - just ephemeral, ever-changing, nothingness thoughts. I'm being *tormented* by things that don't even exist outside my mind. Made me smile.

Hope you have a wonderful trip.