Sunday, September 4, 2011

Avoiding the symbolic victory

Our culture encourages us to “get the last word,” to air our feelings, and to express our minds. Dr. Low warns us not to buy into these notions, as doing so will lead to temper and symptoms.

For example, I recently received an e-mail from a co-worker making a statement with which I do not agree. My initial flare of temper compelled me to reply with my own opinion. After all, I believed my viewpoint was correct. I felt my skin tensing and my breathing quickening as I formulated a brilliant response.

However, I spotted that I was becoming worked up over a triviality—and there is no
right or wrong in the trivialities of everyday life. I decided to abandon the need for a symbolic victory and control my muscles by not sending a response. During this long holiday weekend I still find myself thinking about that e-mail, but I choose to focus on secure thoughts.

Before Recovery I would have replied to the e-mail. While I might have thought that my argument was sound, the ensuing back and forth would have led to a temperamental deadlock, which would have harmed “group life” (i.e., work). And I would have developed fearful temper as I awaited my co-worker’s response.

With my Recovery training I have avoided a panoply of symptoms. And for that I heartily endorse!

1 comment:

Alisha said...

I'm so happy to come across your blog, Doug. I, too, suffer with anxiety.

I know all too well what you mean when you talk about the "flare of temper" that occurs when something like a disagreeable email comes up. It can be incredibly hard to resist that urge to respond with personal opinion. Luckily, restraint saves us from what could potentially turn into more anxiety than we started out with.

Thanks so much for your honesty and for sharing your story. I know, for me at least, being honest with the public and (most importantly) with myself makes a world of difference!

Best wishes.