Sunday, August 17, 2014

When you absolutely positively ultimately have no control whatsoever

Nervous people like to be in control, or at least think they are in control. We don't like change. We crave stability and knowing that everything is just the way we want, or like, it.

I'm no exception, and this weekend has been taxing for me.

I have been planning a large event in St. Louis for more than a year, and it takes place next weekend. Recent events in Ferguson have caused me to have sleepless nights, racing thoughts, and feelings of dread. My stomach has been jumpy for days. I fear no one will show up, that my event will be a failure, and that I will be blamed.

Being in Recovery, however, I also must acknowledge that I have absolutely, positively, ultimately no control whatsoever over what is going on there. I am taking an exaggerated sense of responsibility, as I, or anyone else, could never have anticipated what happened.

By checking my e-mail and the news frequently, I have been trying to give myself a sense of control, but these activities only heighten my anxiety. To protect my mental health, I must recognize that I am powerless in this situation.

As Dr. Low would remind me, although I feel helpless, the situation is not hopeless. The conference is still a week away. Recent events have proved that the the situation can change quickly, sometimes for the worse, but sometimes for the better. Our event is more than 20 minutes away from Ferguson, and my fears that no one will show up is a reflection of imagination on fire rather than reality.

The next few days are going to be uncomfortable. I can't change my feelings or sensations, but I do have control over my thoughts and impulses. By applying realistic thinking I can temper panic and not overreact to news events. I need to keep busy, keep positive, and deal with events as they happen, as anticipation is almost always worse than realization.


Frank Porter said...

Reading your blog is like looking in the mirror. It's like someone took my innermost thoughts that I was too scared to show anyone but the pros, and put it all out there for the world to see, and ironically it's making me feel better. I want to thank you for baring your soul when I am too afraid to, and for making it seem okay in a world where it just isn't. I'm going to keep reading because for the first time in a long time its giving me hope.

Elisa V said...

You probably hear this a lot, but as another commenter already said, I could have written this post!

One of the hardest things for me to accept during my time in therapy for anxiety was that certain things we do or say only create an illusion of control, when the truth is the only thing you can control is what YOU do, think and say.

One thing I've found about myself is that sometimes I worry about negative things happening so I won't feel like an idiot when they do happen. :) All that energy wasted just so I can say that something terrible did in fact happen, but I knew it would happen all along!

If it helps you feel any better, last year I was working on organizing a massive event in Boston. We were aiming to have 600 people there and were a good way towards that goal when the Boston Marathon bombings happened - two weeks before the event. It was incredibly stressful, but as you mentioned in your post, things can change very quickly and in this case, they did. We had a really successful event, and while there weren't as many people there as there would have been had that terrible tragedy not happened, everyone would have understood if the place had been half empty, too!

Anyway, I'm enjoying your blog, and best of luck with your event!

Dennis Simsek said...

Wow so many things in your life link up to my past life with anxiety. Sesnsations of anxiety used to cripple me and send me to the emergency room sometimes on a daily basis. I quickly learned that there is no medication for fear, check out my story here - and thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I'll ditto what some other people have said - you totally echoed my own thoughts when I was planning an event in St. Louis. In fact, my initial thought was "Did I write this?" - totally irrational I know.

I left my position as a conference planner because I could not handle the extreme anxiety I was experiencing. Over a year later, I am now doing a job that supports a conference planner and that helps my anxiety because I too did not want to be blamed when things go wrong. I love this blog and thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Over a decade ago when I was first launching my business I had planned a small event to be held in a private room at a popular local club. I had done some local advertising and invited maybe 4 or 5 dozen people. Well, only two people showed up. You know, I wasn't all that devastated, no animals were hurt in testing and no fatalities to speak of. Since then I have conducted some small impromptu meetings and have been swamped with people seeking advice. you never really know what's going to occur. That's the magnificence of life, it is to be embraced not feared my friend. Yours in serenity, K

Musix Japan said...

Knowledge is power, recognize your anxieties and their triggers and make them yours. Fully accept and recognize the physical and emotional reactions they cause and only then can you overpower them.

Georgie Pedersen said...

You don't have controll over the future but you can control the present. It is important to make sure you have time for yourself. Put aside a few minutes in the day for me time and do something that you love to! For me sometimes having a hot bath with some radox is a good way to relax and clear my mind. Also keeping a book and writing down what you are worried about and how you feel may help calm your racing thoughts. I can sympathise with you as I have been there too!

Levy said...

I agree! Negative thoughts and things are everywhere and its up to us to get our attention to it and be anxious in the end. If we will just think of all the positive things around us, everything will just pass and eventually everything will be fine. Thanks for the post!

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Chris B. said...

"When you absolutely positively ultimately have no control whatsoever"

Oh boy, just the name of this post can give one the jitters - i HATE that feeling!!
Your story is very helpful -

Kim said...

Gosh I cam so relate to what you are talking about.. However I feel better by just reading your post.. I started blogging just for out let , it helps!

Polly Meyers said...

I'm just checking in to see how you did with your weekend. I think it is over now. Hope all went well.
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Alley | Anxiety Help said...

This is nice. Even when you know that you have so much worries, you are aware of how to somewhat reserve it to lessen it. Keep it up. Fighting anxiety is really hard but by constantly addressing it and getting help from the right people can really decrease its effects.

practice problems said...

Doug - I am presenting RI Tech tools at the conference in San Diego. Please contact me...I have looked for your contact and do not see it.
mail_teri at yahoo

Doug said...

Thank you all for your comments. Turns out the event I planned in St. Louis was a big success. Only a few people, out of hundreds, did not show up. It was a classic case of "anticipation is often worse than realization."

Kesha Mercedes said... please read my story and check out my go fund me page as I try to beat anxiety depression on agoraphobia by going on a journey that can change my life forever

Xing Tingkai said...

Great post!
I know it is tough dealing with anxiety because know how bad it can be.
So i created a website specifically to help the anxiety community.
Check out! I hope it helps


Jim Ingham said...

Hi Doug, this is more for you but have you looked at something called cranial electrical stimulation? I can talk about it with you if you wish.