Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Notes from a Therapist

I have a friend I don't get to ever see. She lives in San Jose, California. She is one of my idols. I am sure she has no clue as to how much I adore her.  She has a soul that will always make her a special, enduring friend in my heart. She is good. She is sunshine. I love her dearly and aspire to be like her.  Her mom says she has been like that since she was little, which makes me think about the "nurture or nature" phenomenon.  Maybe we are all predisposed as to who we are, which in her case is a ray of sunshine, and in my case is chattering teeth.

Anyway, because of the Wonderful World of Facebook, I found out she has started blogging again. Her blog has always been one of my favorites and I am going to add it to the sidebar for those who need some Vitamin D.  It's called "The Gladdest Thing Under the Sun," named after her favorite poem.  Today's post is entitled "Boring Things My Therapist Has Said To Me."  I was like, WHAT?! TJ needs a therapist? That shit's whack.  But then I became curious, what kind of advice does someone like TJ need?  Here is her list.


1.  Go outside for a few minutes each day.
2.  Remember what worked before.  Do that again.
3.  Lower your expectations for yourself.
4.  Leave some things un-done now and then.
5.  Take a walk whenever you can.
6.  Create something to look forward to.
7.  When you're anxious something bad will happen, tell yourself, "That's highly unlikely."
8.  Get some exercise.
9.  Put alone time on your calendar.
10.  Find a tiny step to take, and take it.

11. There are tiny pieces of your day that you have some control over.  Make them work for you.

AND here is a picture of her actual list from her iPhone. It is slightly different.

The hell? TJ's list mentions Anxiety. The hell you say. I read her list thinking that it would be more like you know, #1 or #8, but never anything related to anxiety.

I have to say, I have my own list that I keep in my iPhone.  Shall we look?


  1. Accept that you will always have emotions and you won't keep them in a bubble. It is OK when they spill out sometimes. You are not a robot.
  2. Actively evaluate where are your thoughts and feelings, and where are my behaviors? Emotional v. Rational.
  3. Make lists.  In other words, get the chaos out of your head and put it on paper where you can check things off and see accomplishments.
  4. Be aware of All or Nothing thinking. Look for options in the middle.
  5. You can only control your 50% in life and in situations.  Do what you can, and put the uncontrollable out of your mind. 
  6. You should not worry about how your feelings can make others feel.  That is not on me.  My feelings cannot invade someone else's space unless THEY let them. (example: I can share with my husband and shouldn't always worry that I am bringing him down just because I am down.)
  7. Ask yourself, do you want to be content, or do you want to be happy?  Don't fear change. 
  8. Baby steps. 

I am stealing from TJ's phone list and adding #9.

9.  SO much of anxiety is not having control over our lives, but we have control over pieces of it each day.

The pieces. I think those are what I should focus on right now. Because if I look at the days they are long. So are the hours. And, of course, the minutes.  A friend of mine suggested a book for me yesterday, Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankle, Holocaust survivor. I find that I learn more from others than from myself. Viktor seems like a good candidate to teach me a lesson about worry and anxiety.  From the Amazon write-up, "Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose."

Anxiety is suffering. Anxiety is pain. Anxiety is a thief who steals away your ability to cope and deal with even the minutia of life.  Lists from therapists and words of wisdom are our weapons to use in the battle.  Me v. My Brain, as always.  Hopefully my stockpile of ammunition will eventually outweigh my disease.  I am, as always, a work in progress.

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