Hi there, Group. Great week. Question for you: When you are half a block away and people are getting on the bus you’re about to miss, what do you do?
Your answer helps us understand your experience during incidental exposure.
The short answer is run after the bus, sometimes. Flexibly. Humorously. Like your life depends on it.
Group had a disagreement about this:
Some of you feel empathic anxiety and embarrassment when you see someone running after a bus. You feel anxious and embarrassed on behalf of those that try. You would never do it yourself. You think, “Look at how hard they are trying. They’re going to fail. That’s so embarrassing.”
Some of you think, “Of course, I run after the bus. I would feel anxiety and shame if I didn’t catch it. I’m mad at myself already for being in that hypothetical situation. I should have planned better. When I see someone missing the bus, I feel empathy for them because of the harsh internal self-criticism they must feel.”
Calm down. It’s just a story. You haven’t missed the bus. Everybody’s okay. What’s happening here?
For those that have the first answer: We all know that your content doesn’t matter, and your process matters immensely. Your life depends on your process. You need to accept where you actually are. It’s okay to be embarrassed. It’s okay to feel shame or guilt. And, wherever you are is where you are and you need to start there. And, you need to try!
When your OCD or anxiety is triggered in every day life, you have to try to relate effectively. You might feel embarrassment, guilt, shame, helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness about the fact that it happens. It’s okay for those feelings to be there. Having a feeling doesn’t make something true. What will it take to move past these interpretations? In any given moment, can you accept that you’re having a thought, feeling, or sensation and choose to respond well to that experience, rather than trying to figure out why it’s there or what it means about you?
For those that have the second answer: We all know that your content doesn’t matter, and your process matters immensely. Your life depends on it. Your process is hijacked by perfectionism. We gotta go after your perfectionism so that you have the chance to change the way you relate to your content. You can let the bus go sometimes. You don’t always have to try your very hardest. Your opportunity is to try less hard. Notice that opportunity to do an exposure and let it pass. Notice your fear, guilt, and shame and get distance from the narrative that feeds those feelings. Your hard work is to trigger the narrative that says that you must be perfect and try your best in every moment and do the opposite. Don’t just do something, sit there. You got it. Stand there. Put your phone down and stand there with your feelings. They’re just feelings! It’s just a moment! Hey, look at you! Being alive! Standing there! Having all those feelings! Thinking all those stories! What a moment! The moment you see that for what it is is a really great moment. Let’s try to get you that perspective more often.
Your incidental exposure is your real life. You’re in your real life and you get triggered. What do you do? Run after the bus. That is, let yourself feel anxious and embarrassed and do what you value anyway. Do the thing that’s hard even if your anxiety tells you not to do it. And, if the hard thing is to stop running, just stand there.
Having the opportunity to run after the bus means that you’re heading somewhere and you care that you arrive. Do the work to figure out your plan for learning to relate effectively to your anxiety and OCD. Assess where you are and what you need to do next. Make a plan to try to get there. When the opportunity shows up to practice in real life, run towards it. Your life depends on it.
When the opportunity for practice relating more effectively to your anxiety or OCD shows up in your every day life, do you tend to run after it? Do you avoid it or force yourself into it? Let’s discuss your most common incidental exposures and whether you need to run towards them more often or be more gentle with yourself when they occur.
Also, thank you to the member who used this metaphor in another context. You guys have great metaphors. This is really fun. See you soon! If you aren’t part of Huddle.care and you want to check it out, sign up for a free consult!