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Monday, December 22, 2014

I wrote about a week ago ( about giving myself an exposure to help train me not to be controlled by social anxiety. My thinking of this, and overcoming my own resistance, were doubtless facilitated by the fact I was reading Scott Stossel's book My Age of Anxiety.

An aspect of anxiety I learned about while reading it is that anxious persons tend to have a higher level of "interoceptive awareness," meaning sensitivity to their internal physical state. Combined with their predisposition to worry, this results in an increased likelihood of noticing things that they construe as signs of anxiety, causing them to worry about behaviors that may result from that anxiety, spawning further anxiety in a vicious cycle.

This must have been on my mind last Friday evening shortly after work, while I was in a Rite Aid to get a couple things before going home. I detected what I thought was a moment of faintness that might be attributed to having eaten lightly that day. I thought of buying a piece of candy to "tide me over" until I got home, but then cross-examined this impulse. I realized I didn't really know if what I'd felt was faintness, or just sleepiness. Further, even it was a very slight faintness, there was no reason to think there's be any catastrophic consequences if it recurred during my ride home.

In other words, I was applying one of the routine questions of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for anxiety disorders, "What's the worst that could happen?" which serves to counter anxious people's tendency to catastrophize. As a result I chose not to buy any candy, saving me money and hazard to my physiology while teaching myself not to be controlled so easily by minor sensations. And I didn't, in fact, feel faint again on the ride home.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Found this post after googling some of strings that described a similar experience of mine. Fascinating how the wheels turn in both of our heads so similarly. Going to read through your whole blog -- I really appreciate reading this sort of internal dialogue -- you capture it in a way that I really can't -- it really makes me understand myself so much better.