Where is My Car?

It was a perfect water park day.

I was all packed and ready to load up, pick up a friend, and head to my favorite water park. I got down to my parking space and it was empty. My brain did one of those wonky things as if the car was there; I just somehow wasn’t seeing it.

For the briefest moment I considered that it has been stolen. Then I remembered. Oh, my gosh, I drove it to the office yesterday and then walked home.

My office is about ten minutes away and I normally walk unless the weather is bad. Yesterday, for some reason, I got in the car and drove. At lunch time, I walked to the post office, then ate lunch, then did some errands nearby and went home.

On foot.

Whew!

My stomach settled back into a normal state of pre-water park excitement. I picked up my clothing bag and munchies cooler and headed to my office.

Then it started. What if someone stole my car or, more likely, the police towed it from the parking lot. I will have to spend the whole morning finding where my car is and bailing it out.  The whole day will be ruined.

When I am imagining a catastrophe of epic proportions, like missing a trip to the water park, I want to know the bottom line as fast as possible. So, I walked faster and started breathing more rapidly. My heart sped up. Those are all symptoms of a panic attack; I don’t have panic attacks. I have catastrophic imagination attacks.

I desperately wanted that moment when I would see my car sitting there and know everything was OK.

STOP!  JUST STOP!

I told myself. You car is just fine. It is sitting in the parking lot at your office and the worst possible thing is that it will have a ticket on it. That’s $50.00, not pretty, but not a major problem.

I am going to walk more and more slowly and calm down before I get to my car. Breathe, breathe, breathe. Everything is just fine.

By the time I got to my car (not towed away, not even a ticket), I was calm again and feeling good that I had not kept imagining the worst possible scenario. I had been mindful and stayed in the moment.

I drove to my friend’s house and she got into the car.

“I had a little excitement this morning,” said I, and told her the story. She laughed and said,

“I once left my car downtown, on the street, came home on the train.”
“You left your car down town all night?”
“I figured the worst thing that would happen is that it might get vandalized.”
“and you were able to sleep?”
“I have good insurance.”
“Now, that’s mindfulness.”

It was a perfect water park day.

Plain and Simple Advice

When we crank ourselves up and make ourselves anxious we train our brain to respond to surprises by spitting out chemical warnings. Anxiety is not a state of being, it is a process that you can choose not to participate in.

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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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