Blog entry 4th June 2012
Today my counsellor and I talked about anxiety and she gave me an equation to work with. Here it is:
Anxiety = Danger (always over estimated)
Coping + Resources (always under estimated)
I like this. It comforts me. I have always had a tendency to be over anxious, to face the world with a degree of trepidation. My inner flawed thinking tells me that my coping skills are insufficient, I disregard the resources available to me and I create a monster whose distorted shadow flickers somewhere just ahead of me - the perceived danger or threat. All this creates a level of anxiety which is almost disabling. Well, maths was never my strong point but now I look at this equation and it makes sense to me.
My self belief has never been strong but I have worked on this over the years. We talked about it today because well, I’ve been slipping lately. I tell myself that I am doing a good job here, that I am coping well, that I am doing the best I can. But do I really believe it? If I doubt myself now, what about the future we face? I try not to aim for the impossible standard of perfection that I have so often set myself in the past and failed to achieve. Here my counsellor offers another gem which resonates with me.
“The purpose of perfectionism is to eliminate the risk of being criticised.” - Oh how this struck a chord! I have had to work on this, too! I cannot bear to be criticised and to understand why this is I think we would have to go back a long way and dig deep. I am not about to go into that here (sighs of relief all round).
But here’s the thing for me - it is important for me to believe that I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to care what anyone thinks except the people I love. They are the only ones that matter. If they think I’m doing a good job, then that’s okay.
What else did we talk about? I told her that lately I’ve been putting things off.
We looked at why this might be happening. I’m even putting off tasks which might do me some good, make me feel better. Why? She had a suggestion.
“The Purpose of Avoidance is to reduce anxiety.” Actually, of course, we need to face what we are avoiding in order to lessen anxiety. So do things, she suggests, get them out of the way. You’ll feel better. There are some things that we can’t control, some fears and anxieties we can’t do anything
about but sometimes you can choose to take action, even if it’s just in the little things.
The first thing I did when I got home was to enter a poetry competition. Here’s an example of something I’ve been putting off for ages. I marched off to the post box and sent off three poems. It’s an adventure. I felt good about it. It’s disappointing when you don’t win or get anywhere, but there’s always the hope of success and if you’re not in, you can’t win. For an over anxious perfectionist who’s afraid of failure, hates criticism and wastes too much energy avoiding both, I think that’s a pretty good start.