Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer Reading - Chapter 3

I hope you all are getting a chance to get caught up in the workbook and enjoying it. Chapter 3 is short and sweet with a resounding main message about struggle and avoidance.

"The most critical element that separates normal from problematic anxiety and fear is this: avoidance, avoidance and more avoidance."

Wouldn't it be great if we could just avoid a few yucky emotions and they would just go away? For some reason, avoidance does really feel toxic for the anxious brain. At this stage of the game, for me, I'm almost more afraid of avoiding something than of entering a situation and knowing I'll be anxious. My experience has taught me that even one little avoidance and the slope is feeling mighty slippery. A few years back, I was driving and had the thought, "Uh oh, I'm feeling kind of anxious today. I think I'll take the back roads instead of the highway." Wouldn't you know, the next day, it felt 10x harder to get back on the highway, even though that route had become part of my routine.

Can you relate to the poison ivy analogy? If you've never had poison ivy, consider yourself lucky! If you have, then you know it's almost impossible not to scratch at that insidious itch! Anxiety can feel alot like that. We want to float through it, drop the rope and not struggle, but the urge to fight/struggle/itch is automatic.

I'm looking forward to learning more about the attitude shift and mindfulness techniques that are soon to come. I like how the authors ask us not to be convinced that their techniques will work, but to simply have an open mind.

Although chapters to come will cover these questions, I'm wondering:

*What are you avoiding right now?

*What would you be doing differently in your life if anxiety was not an issue?

*What messages are sinking in for you from this workbook? What resonates the strongest?

*Are you ready to tackle chapters 4 & 5?

See you soon!


Ashley said...

I have really enjoyed this book! I am now so aware of the many, many things I avoid. I have never had poison ivy but can relate to the idea that fighting and struggling feel almost impossible. It's an automatic response at times. My husband has been reading all these books with me. On one hand, it's been a huge help to have him remind me that I'm not going to pass out and that I should invite this feeling in and make it worse. On the other hand, I can't just say, "I have a headache, can you go to the grocery store for me" He knows I'm avoiding. It’s been challenging but I think very beneficial. This weekend I went to 5 big stores, 2 grocery stores and 1 crowded restaurant. By Saturday night I felt like I never wanted to go back home because I felt so normal being out. It's been a long time since I have felt that way. The hard part is keeping the momentum up. Yesterday I was faced with an unexpected errand (my biggest struggle)I knew if I avoided it I would have even more to overcome later so off we went in the pouring rain to the grocery store. I really only experienced anticipatory anxiety. Once I was there I was fine. I even stayed longer than I needed to just to try an increase my anxiety. Now today I am feeling anxious that I might not need to go anywhere and if I don't go anywhere, I might be more fearful tomorrow (we have a big cookout tomorrow night with our church small group).

*What are you avoiding right now?
I avoid Target, the neighborhood pool, driving to Atlanta (the zoo, children's museum and the aquarium), Spontaneous outings of any sort.

*What would you be doing differently in your life if anxiety was not an issue?
I think we would be at the zoo or the children's museum more. We would go for ice cream on a hot afternoon. If Tripp wanted to spend his allowance at Target we could just get in the car and go. I feel like I would be more flexible and free.

*What messages are sinking in for you from this workbook? What resonates the strongest?
Avoidance is toxic!!!!! I don't have to win the war with anxiety to live my life. Don’t be so hard on yourself!!! Don’t avoid! Don’t avoid! Don’t avoid!!!!!!!!

I feel like I still wrestle with so many little avoidances that are probably still holding me back but I also feel like I am having lots of success. I am beginning to live my life with anxiety.

amy said...

Hi Kristin!

Even though I'm not reading the book right now (I'm reading a couple others ones at the moment, but I WILL be getting this)...I wanted to answer the questions.

*What are you avoiding right now? I avoid things almost subconsciously I think. I dodge certain things and don't even realize it until later. I DEFINITELY avoid dinner dates with certain people, I just won't do it...that will take some work!

*What would you be doing differently in your life if anxiety was not an issue? Oh my goodness, what wouldn't I be doing?! Before anxiety hit, I was such the go-getter...verrry social, loved being spontaneous and the list goes on it seems. I read something the other day that said "What would you attempt if you knew you couldn't fail?" Gee, LOTS of things! That quote is inspiring! I would love to go out more socially, that is one thing I would be doing differently.

Thank you Kristin for taking your time out of your busy life to help others :) I know I've said it before, but it's definitely appreciated. And when you're done with the workbook...I'm totally up for a 30 day challenge!

Ashley-Wow, you're doing so good! You should be so proud of yourself!! It sounds like you are really pushing yourself!! Don't be too hard on yourself, if you go and go for a couple days straight, naturally people need a day at home to do nothing...when that day comes that you don't leave the house after doing so much, it's because you're taking a break, try not to connect a day of rest to your anxiety or avoidance. That's just my opinion :)

Ya'll have a wonderful day!

overcome panic attacks said...
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Anxiety Girl said...

Ashley - you're a rock star, girl! I love when you said, "I felt like I never wanted to go back home because I felt so normal being out." That's just fantastic. It's also ok to go out & feel anxious while you're "doing life", as well. I'm so proud of you!

I totally get the "what if I don't do exposure work tomorrow and my anxiety gets worse". I have to remind myself that that thought usually starts with "what if" and that's anxiety speaking. My friend Michael is a psychologist and tells his anxiety clients that one of their goals after therapy is to live an "exposure lifestyle" - like the workbook says, going out and doing what's important to you in your life, even if your anxiety comes along for the ride. Easier said than done, no?

Pretty soon anxiety will want to wrestle and you'll decline. I'm working on that, too! Don't forget that you're doing amazing work - keep it up!

Amy - I know - there are just so many books you can read at one time. So glad to hear your supportive comments, good ideas and your experiences. The social piece is hard, isn't it? And, hard to explain if the other person hasn't dealt w/anxiety issues before. Have you told your friends and family? What's been helping when it comes to anxiety in social situations? Yes - 30 day challenge #2 will be coming after this workbook.