How to cash that reality check

A young lady near and dear to my heart makes her living by serving up specialty coffee drinks. She shared with me the anxiety she felt in starting a new job. I was happy for her that she resolved it quickly and readily by saying to herself,

“I’m not going there to do brain surgery. I’m going to make F’ing coffee. What’s the worst thing that can possibly happen? I’ll do so badly that they’ll fire me and I’ll have to find yet another crappy job in the service industry for low pay!”

That’s what my chosen family call a “two-for.”

My friend put things into a manageable perspective AND dealt with her underlying emotions in a healthy way.

Maybe that’s easy for you. For misfits like me, the tendency to turn a mole hill into a mountain is something we have to guard against daily. Learning how to maintain and regain a healthy perspective is a vital part of making recovery manageable.

A healthy perspective is driven by awareness, beliefs and values, rationality, problem solving, spiritual guidance, and critical thinking skills. Perspective is easily lost (or driven off the nearest cliff) when we’re: lost, hurt, afraid, triggered, stressed, or isolated.

In any given situation, we can get a reality check by asking ourselves, “This thing that I’m all f’ed up about…just how important is it?” Nine times out of ten, we’ll find we’re panic stricken over something that doesn’t (in the grand scheme of things) actually matter.

Other times, we’re f’ed up about things like making coffee because we’re busy ignoring problems in our lives that are important. Counselors call this “displacement.” I find folks most often do this when the things they’re f’ed up about are problems they cannot control (like a break up or divorce).

 

Dealing with powerlessness is tough, until we get it right, we get to waste a lot of time and energy trying to manipulate outcomes that we’re likely to feel bad about later (She won him back and broke up with him the following week).

 

If you live with anxiety and you’re honest, you can probably identify countless problems you’ve anticipated and prepared for that never actually occurred. In those cases, you had the perspective of a depressed fortune teller. We seek to predict the future based on Murphy’s Law.

 

Get off the edge of your seat and consider the possibility that things fall into place much better after we let them go.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.