Tuesday, September 4, 2007
What If? (or how I might be saving the world and no-one even thanks me for it)
It often surprises me to hear what people think I’m like. Obviously they don’t tell me the uncomplimentary things, nor would I encourage this. The word “calm” is something I frequently hear, and “unflappable.” While these are pretty neutral in terms of how one assesses a person’s character, they seem to be qualities much coveted by people who lead lives that are increasingly rushed and stressful. I wish I possessed them too, to the degree that I appear to. In reality, I am a prey to every flying thought and a mere change in the wind’s direction is enough to increase the pulse rate. My daughter travelling across London during an underground strike is a minefield of what ifs, and don’t even begin to talk about night busses at three in the morning. I shut up about it most of the time or I would drive everyone and myself bonkers. There is no-one better in a crisis than me because I am always primed for it – I never need to read any of those Worst Case Scenario books, my undisciplined but vivid imagination has pictured it all. The single useful thing a cognitive behavioural therapist identified was that one of my Core Beliefs seemed to be that anxiety was in some way helpful: that by worrying one perhaps prevented the worst from happening. Obviously it isn’t helpful. “I” know that, even if my core believer doesn’t. It takes energy. It is not a good thing. On the other hand, but this will remain forever unverifiable, perhaps it is only my anxiety that is preventing the world from falling into imminent destruction – in which case, dear reader, you should really be thanking me. I’ve been doing it too long, though. Someone else want to take over?