Part II – Escaping the House of Mirrors Series
The other day we had errands to run. The hubby and I packed our two youngest in the car (our oldest lives most of the time at his mother’s house) and headed out to the store to purchase the ingredients for our Thanksgiving Feast (as *Emma calls it). *Chase managed marvelously in the store. We put him in charge of pushing the kid sized cart. Emma also had one. I found it humorous how my husband and I kept the two of them from crashing into each other. We headed out to grab a bite to eat before heading
out to Joann’s for their before Thanksgiving sale. We ended up going to a place that is not normally on our repertoire of fast food joints. Chase and my hubby tend to have a short list they prefer. We entered the restaurant and Chase informed us rather loudly that he wanted cheese roll-ups at Taco Bell (that kid could live off of cheese roll-ups). What followed creates a perfect focal point for this series – yup, you guessed it. Feelings of embarrassment, irritation, pain for my son, anger and belittlement overwhelmed me as Chase began to yell, stomp and argue. Behind us a line formed, waiting to place their orders. I directed Chase out into an area away from the crowd. I let him know that if he didn’t want to eat here we would go to Taco Bell afterward. He calmed down. We walked back into the crowded lobby and my son melted down again. I think we went out three times before it hit me. Distraction. I moved him to a table. My husband sat a soda down in front of Emma and somehow Scott spilled the entire mega cup all over the table. We ended up moving to another table. By this time I found my anxiety spiraling out of control and I caught myself in the act of listening to the distorted thoughts in my head. I became aware that my emotions headed toward a possible train-wreck.
I know that certain situations are a quagmire for my negative emotions to take complete control over me. This is where knowing my triggers for anxiety come in handy. Can I add another one to my list – if it isn’t there? Taking my children out in public. Yup. Huge!!!! I can prepare myself for difficult tasks or going to places that cause me anxiety (church, restaurants, grocery stores, cleaning my house, blah, blah, blah.) When I make mistakes or start berating myself I now am able to recognize that at some point my critical self flagellation affects my emotions and moods. When I am feeling angry, depressed, discouraged, embarrassed, ashamed, or a plethora of other negative emotions it is now possible to make note that I headed towards a downward spire.
By noticing when I am experiencing cognitive distortions I am able to recognize which of my many personalities is coming to the forefront.
- Is the Worrier emerging? Bourne explains that “the Worrier’s dominant tendencies include 1) anticipating the worst, 2) overestimating th odds of something bad or embarrassing happening, and 3)creating grandiose images of potential falure or catastrophe. The Worrier is always vigilant, watching with uneasy apprehension for any small symptoms or signs of trouble” (pg. 182).
- What about the Critic? “The Critic generates anxiety by putting you down for not being able to handle you panic symptoms, for not being able to go places you used to go, for being unable to preform at your best, or for having to be dependent on someone else. It also likes to compare you with others and usually see them coming out favorably. It tends to ignore your positive qualities and emphasizes your weaknesses and inadequacies” (Bourne, Pg. 182).
- How about the Perfectionist? This shows up when you begin using the should statements. The perfectionist tells you that you aren’t good enough, and that your efforts aren’t worthwhile. “The Perfectionist is the hard-driving part of you that wants to be best and is intolerant of mistakes or setbacks” (Bourne, 183). It controls your self worth by telling you that you must have vocational success, money, be liked and accepted by everyone. It is exhausting!
- Or am I just being the Victim? “The Victim is that part of you that feels helpless or hopeless.” (Bourne 182) You feel defective, not good enough, unworthy. This is the part of you that complains, gripes, feels regret, and believes that the situation is a never ending problem with no light at the end of the tunnel. Depression is often accompanied by this sub-personality.
Thinking back on the situation I had all four sub-personalities rearing their ugly heads in the restaurant What followed was a moment of clarity. I stopped. Join me next time as I discuss how I used the Socratic Method to pause the maelstrom.
- Part I – Introduction
- Part II – Becoming Aware
- Part III – Stop and Question.
- Part IV – Relax
- Part V – Write Inner Dialogue
- Part VI – Identify and write: Cognitive distortions and Positive Counter-Statements