Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mind over what’s-the-matter

Stress can be a snowball. If you’re not careful, it’s easily an avalanche. If one thing goes wrong when you’ve let yourself become really tense, you’re suddenly tossing your hands up in the air and ready to forfeit the whole game. Don’t go there. Instead, it’s time for a reality check. Ask yourself the following questions:
  • What do I really feel? Have I jammed a couple of unrelated memories and fears together to make a stress sandwich? Stop and ask yourself what’s the worst that could possibly happen? Believe it or not, allowing your fear to be specific rather than abstract, putting a face on your fear as it were, can really help because doing so defines, and then lessens, the fear. The bogeyman thrives in the dark.
  • Are my nerves talking, or am I? How many times have you tripped over your tongue or your good manners and said to yourself, “I can’t believe I just said that!” If it should happen to you on your date (and it happens to everyone), ’fess up right away. Apologize. Tell your date you were momentarily possessed. Just don’t let one faux pas fester into an ugly, giant, oozing ball of stress.
  • Am I trying to make sure my date doesn’t get too close? Intimacy is a scary thing. If you find yourself running for the dugout before the seventh inning stretch, get back in the game and see how it ends up.
  • Is this just old family baggage I’m keeping alive? If you notice that you seem to be falling back on tired old patterns left over from childhood to make you feel comfortable, give yourself a good talking to. Take a deep breath and tell yourself you’re safe. It’s okay to feel a little afraid. Don’t worry — you’ll hold your hand every step of the way.

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