A few years ago we had a nasty winter. Nobody could seem to scrape their windshields properly, and on this school morning, I was no exception. While stopped at a red light, the woman in front of me popped out of her car, scraped my windshield some more with her awesome scraper, stating, “I have a great scraper, and I see lots of people who need my help today.” I was so incredibly grateful, UNTIL…
I was grateful, and explaining my gratitude to my elementary school aged child, UNTIL the light turned green, and the woman behind us sat on the horn and yelled at us. I was rattled. I was actually more than rattled. I couldn’t seem to process the vacillating emotions quickly enough, and realized I all I had to do was drive the two blocks to school and, well, get my kid to school. On the playground, still rattled, I shared my experience with a dad who was watching the kids on the equipment. (Right, it was cold as all get out, and yet the kids play outside with reckless abandon.). The dad listened patiently, and asked, incredulously, “Are you really going to let that ruin your day?” Actually, I think that had been my plan.
The woman yelling had tossed me into a fit of anxiety. Why hadn’t I taken the time to better clean off my windshield? Had I committed a crime? Was I endangering others? Was I teaching my child bad things? Can I still be grateful to the window-scraping woman, or did I have to stay miserable? The list of questions was lengthy, and I was prepared to give my day over to it.
Right. So the dad pointed out that two things happened in rapid succession: I was grateful, and then I was anxious. And for some reason I was choosing Anxiety to be the Theme of the Day. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that. I’ve talked to lots of clients who seem to choose Anxiety as the theme of the day, even as other great things are happening for them. Many of us could do a better job of identifying the positives of our day, rather than getting sucked into the anxiety cycle. My clients sometimes put a star on their hand to remind them to find the positive, speak to themselves in a positive/gentle way, and to choose a better theme of the day. And I try to routinely ask myself, “Are you really going to let that ruin your day?”
If you would like help managing your anxiety, please contact me, and we’ll find a better Theme of the Day for you.