I had some more run ins with my Inner Heckler aka Batty Poo recently. One technique I’ve started using is hyperbole/exaggeration to make me realize how silly those inner criticisms are.
I get very nervous flying. Not because I’m afraid of the plane crashing or terrorism. I was a bit anxious about those my first few flights after 9/11 (my mom’s reaction to that merits its own entry about invalidation), but I eventually was able to not feel so anxious about that.
My fear is more that I’ll do something wrong in the security line or miss my flight or lose or forget something as I’m going through security. I recently took a trip to visit a friend in another part of the country. I was so worried about screwing up the security line, trying to make sure my computer, shoes and liquids were properly aligned, that I broke out into a sweat. Then of course, I started irrationally worrying that the sweating would make me suspect and draw extra TSA attention to me!
I calmed myself down by remembering that the one time I did mess up on the security line, there were no villagers with pitchforks and torches coming after me. It was the first time I brought my computer with me. I didn’t realize it had to be in its own bin, so I put it in with the shoes, jacket and liquids. I was filled with dread when the TSA person asked who’s computer it was and told me they had to be in their own bin. I had this irrational thought I was going to get into trouble and the whole line was going to be seething at me.
Instead, we just got another bin and ran it through again. Took maybe all of 5 minutes, I didn’t even get any dirty looks. But that conditioning to fear is so strong and that experience of being scapegoated is so strong that it influences my perception of things. I’ve started telling myself in those situations, “I don’t think the angry villagers will be paying us a visit today” Sometimes I even say it in a Frankenstein/Dracula voice to amuse myself.
This morning, I overslept a little bit and didn’t have time to do my makeup. The later bus is more crowded and I had seatmates. I don’t like to do my makeup on the bus when people are sitting right next to me. I reminded myself that I’ve been seen in public without makeup before and no small children, pets or houseplants fled in fear or terror! 🙂
It helped to add some humor to these situations to break the worry cycle. I wish it weren’t necessary, but I’m glad I have that coping mechanism.