Anxious Thoughts #3: How To Work Through Anxious Thoughts

As a follow-up to my posts on cognitive distortions and how to challenge them, I went back through my therapy notes (from almost 2 years ago) and found the following example that I wrote down.

Looking back, I’m a little surprised at how anxious I got in the situation. I wonder how I would handle a similar situation if it came up now.

Here’s the situation:

As I walked into daycare one morning, the supervisor asked if I could come by her office after dropping off the kids in their rooms. At the time I was already in peak social anxiety mode and easily triggerable.

BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT WHY WHY WHY WHAT
Photo by Henda Watani from Pexels

STEP 1 Here are the automatic anxious thoughts I had in the moment*:

*(as recorded in my anxiety journal afterwards)

  1. She’s going to tell me I’m too irregular with drop-off and pick-up times. [I was self-conscious about this at the time.]
  2. She thinks I’m flakey and don’t provide enough stability to my children.
  3. She feels inconvenienced by my erratic drop-off times.
  4. My children will never learn structure or time management and will become bridge-dwelling, axe-wielding serial killers. [Obviously I was exaggerating for effect. OR WAS I.]
Photo by AleksKuprFilmz from Pexels

STEP 2 Here’s how I broke down and labelled the distortions:

  1. She’s going to tell me I’m too irregular with drop-off and pick-up times: probability overestimation
  2. She thinks I’m flakey and don’t provide enough stability to my children: mind reading
  3. She feels inconvenienced by my erratic drop-off times: mind reading
  4. My children will never learn structure or time management and will become bridge-dwelling, axe-wielding serial killers: catastrophizing

STEP 3 And here’s how I countered those distortions:

  1. She’s going to tell me I’m too irregular with drop-off and pick-up times = Maybe she just needs to talk about something benign and administrative.
  2. She thinks I’m flakey and don’t provide enough stability to my children = Maybe she thinks I’m a great mom (if she even gives more than a passing thought about me as a mom at all, which she may not). And I can’t be the only parent who doesn’t do drop-off and pick-up like clockwork.
  3. She feels inconvenienced by my erratic drop-off times = The daycare is open from 7:30 am to 6 pm. I’m sure it’s fine if sometimes I come at 8:30 am and sometimes I come at 9:30 am.
  4. My children will never learn structure or time management and will become bridge-dwelling, axe-wielding serial killers = It is probably not likely that BOTH of my kids will become bridge-dwellers AND axe-wielders AND serial killers.

The actual outcome?

The supervisor needed to check something benign about the postdated cheque I had given her. I think I had dated it for the Monday instead of the Friday or something.

Photo by VisionPic .net from Pexels

Anxious energy clearly well spent.

28 thoughts on “Anxious Thoughts #3: How To Work Through Anxious Thoughts

  1. I like the way you broke that down. All the fears, what they might have meant, and what they actually meant. If only those voices would pay attention to your blogs–they would learn so much and maybe settle down! But I get the sense that they already are, based on your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

          1. We would never say that to anyone publicly. We apologize you saw that. We are kind of at a loss for words – In our 25 years of webpage coding, we have never seen something like that before.

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  2. Excellent article! I have never had a label for my catastrophizing! I always referred to it as “going to the worst possible outcome then scaling back”! The official term is so much neater! ….And to answer your question, i’m not offended! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t know you were prone to catastrophizing! Maybe you told me and I forgot. The memory struggle is real for me lol.

      And thank you for saying you’re not offended! I had such worries that people—well, actually, I was catastrophizing!! And mind reading.

      Like

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