This morning I was reading a post by the blogger omprojectblog. In that post a few words in particular spoke to me. “Stop getting in your own way.” I found that to be good advice. Certainly something I have to think about, and should inspire me to make a list of how I do it and how to move forward.
My circumstances are a bit unique. I’m recovering from a mental illness (and have occasional relapses) and am on disability, but I really think those without these particular challenges can also benefit from this type of exercise. Here I’m going to come up with a preliminary list of the barriers I build for myself, and include an idea or two of how to tear them down, slowly, but surely. Please feel free to comment on or add to my list, or include one or more methods for yourself.
Putting things out of my mind/procrastination: When I don’t want to deal with something (for a variety of reasons) I have a tendency to just put the task or issue out of my mind. This includes going out of the house more (I’m a bit of a hermit), and addressing important issues with my husband, who also tends to put things out of his mind. The issues/problems still exist, but we haven’t gotten to the point where we are completely under the gun yet. I don’t want to let it get to that point. What steps should I/we take?
- Pick just one thing to start – Tackling everything is too much. Bring the topic up (to myself and/or hubby) and create a timeline for attacking the issue. Stick to the timeline.
Caving in too quickly to fear: Sometimes when I do attempt to finally tackle an issue (like working a part-time volunteer job or any out of the ordinary task), I develop severe anxiety. I tend to run away from the challenge and not look back. What steps should I take?
- Have people cheer me on – I must say I really do need this. I know I have people in my life who are willing to help with this. “You can do it!” or “Just go and then call me when you get there.” may really help. An “Thatta girl” is also a motivator.
- Remind myself to step away momentarily – I know that stepping away momentarily in a new environment/situation can de-escalate anxiety, agitation and even anger. I know this has worked for me. But I have to set a time frame for this. Say 10 minutes or so. I will allow myself to step away once every hour or two, as possible.
- Use coping tools including challenging dysfunctional thinking – Each day write a note to myself to practice at least two coping skills to deal with the fear. Challenge dysfunctional thinking to help you get a clearer idea of the reality of a situation. [See links at the bottom of the page for access to more information.]
Concentrating too much on fear instead of pleasure: I tend to ruminate on only the negatives of situations and forget to allow myself fun or pleasures within the time. What steps should I take to stop this?
- Write a list of positives in the situation – Each situation will indeed have positives. I must take some time to remind myself of them. Write them down and look at the note to break up negative thinking or catastrophizing.
- Create simple pleasures amid fears and frustrations – Some things I would need to do will not be pleasurable, but I can find and create some things that would be. List them and remind yourself to do/experience them several times per day as a reward for accomplishing the harder tasks.
I’ll stop at this. This is more than enough. And though there may be many things that fit within each category, my goal is to start with just one. Either one from each category, or even just one. The point is to start them and work to follow through with at least one thing in the time you designate. If I stumble or fail, try try again. Today I’m going to start with #1. I’ll write a short list of things I want to talk about with hubby, with a requirement that one of the things on the list is addressed by a deadline.
Note: Recognizing dysfunctional thinking is very important. That’s the first step in challenging it. Purple Owl provides an excellent list of common dysfunctional thinking in her post “Unhelpful Thinking Habits”. After identifying dysfunctional thinking, challenge the thoughts by using a “Dysfunctional Thought Record”. This has been my favorite and most useful tool learned in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). After going through the worksheet I almost always find situations less intimidating.