Anxiety and Gratitude

I am amazed at how often I focus on what I don’t have rather than what I do have. One time, I was sitting on the deck of a cruise ship in the Caribbean and bemoaning the fact that everyone else seemed to be with someone while I was on this vacation alone. 

Then it occurred to me if you are going to be someplace by yourself, there isn’t a much better place to do it than the deck of a cruise ship. In these hard economic times, there are a whole lot of people that would love to be able to take a cruise or any other vacation.

 And by the way, self, I said, being ‘by myself’ is not the same as ‘being alone’.
“Being alone” has this whole existential vibe to it that implies somehow that the whole universe has abandoned me.  Being ‘by myself’ only suggests that, at this moment, I am not with anyone in particular.  “Being alone’ feels like something that happened to me.  Being “by myself” is a choice that I made.

I wish I could say that these ponderous thoughts made my momentary funk disappear, but I am good sometimes at a lack of gratitude which is basically the same as feeling sorry for myself.  So, I had to drag myself, kicking and screaming, to start thinking what a beautiful day it was and, wouldn’t it be fun to get out of this deck chair and this mental morbidity and go hit the water slide.

What does this have to do with anxiety?

I find that when I am feeling sorry for myself and focusing on what I don’t have, I have plenty of mental space for worrying.  They go together. 

Less Than Helpful Advice

1. Grab a ream of paper and make a list of all the things you don’t have.  Don’t be superficial, really delve into this.  If you stick to it, you can fill that entire ream of paper.
This will provide you with hours, maybe even days, of yuck feelings.  

2. When you have had enough, shred the list, take a single sheet of paper and write all the things you do have.  It will be much shorter list. Carry the list with you and add to it.  It will take you some time to fill both sides of one sheet of paper.  Ask yourself, why is that?

Optional Advice for quick learners:
If you think you are ready, skip step 1 and just do step 2.

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About almondhead

I am a mental health counselor in private practice. One of the focuses of my practice is helping people with fear, anxiety and their ugly stepsister, depression. I became a counselor after a long career in the technology world, so naturally, I think of the brain as an engineering problem. It can help to understand something about how the brain works. I decided to start this blog as a way to help other people learn about fear, anxiety and relationship. (All our problems are really about relationships.) You can also find me at: www.virtuallyfearless.com www.PsychologyToday.com www.theravive.com http://www.marriagefriendlytherapists.com/
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