This week has been incredibly lame. Every day I’ve sat down to write a post and my self-talk snuffed my ideas out like a candle. All of my plans seemed to go up in smoke as well; yesterday my therapist forgot we had an appointment, even though she called to reschedule the time the night before. Usually if one of us messes up our appointment time she calls the other within like an hour to set things straight. I didn’t hear from her all day and I honestly started thinking about what I’d do if she’d died!
My Digby-puppy is a huge time and energy-suck these days, not to mention cleaning out my wallet. Yesterday I spent a total of almost $200 on him after a booster/rabies shot and a giant bag of dog food. I guess it’s a small price to pay to avoid him looking like Hammy the Squirrel while he tears up my apartment, especially since the raccoons living on the roof next door have been vicious to each other lately. After I spent so much on Digby I realized that once again the month isn’t even half over and I might not have enough money to get me through. That, of course, sent me into a spiral of anxiety that convinced me that I needed to buy junk food to get myself through the crisis, therefore spending even more money.
Agh! Sometimes life is like this. It helps to remember that. And as I look back on the previous two paragraphs I notice that I’ve used the following words: every, all, died, and rabies. Okay, so rabies doesn’t really fit with the point I’m trying to make but it is indicative of exaggeration, proving to me that this week I’ve definitely been in the all-or-nothing realm of thinking.
Whenever we use words like “always” and “never” or the few I mentioned above like “every” and “all” it’s a sign that we’re seeing things in black and white, distorting our thinking. It’s a big problem with perfectionists like me. In high school I felt like I had to get every answer right on a test or it was equal to failing. Early or late, hot or cold, all or nothing.
This kind of thinking is common with those who suffer from depression and/or anxiety but it’s really common in our society overall. Remember learning about hyperboles in English class? “I must have fallen one thousand times during that run.” It’s obvious exaggeration and we ALL do it. :P
It’s been really hard for me to kick all-or-nothing thinking but trying to be aware of using those key words is helpful to me. Going back to examine what you wrote or said in the heat of the moment is good too. Often once we’ve cooled down we can see things from a more correct perspective.
And when you really can’t kick it to the curb, it helps to turn all-or-nothing thinking on its head. For example, I like to pretend that everyone in the world that I miss or that I care about is reading this blog. I’ve given my business card to lots of people in the hopes that they might read along even if we might never speak again. Same for the celebrities I’ve blogged about here – they are definitely reading my blog after googling their own names! So my feelings of invisibility can be conquered with my imagination.