Here is something I vigorously object to: being told that things are not as they are. Oh, you too? WE'RE LIKE TWINS.
In the year I tried psychotherapy, a common discussion topic was my perception problem. For example, that when people are behind me in an aisle at the grocery store or tailgating me on the highway, they are NOT getting impatient, I'm just ASSUMING they are because of my anxiety disorder. And that I shouldn't be upset about asking for a second opinion at the mechanic's or at the doctor's or whatever, because people in those jobs are PROFESSIONALS and they KNOW that that's normal---that while _I_ might feel awkward, THEY know it's the way things are done. It's only my anxiety disorder that makes me falsely assume that they'd feel hurt and upset.
And yet, those psychology-professional claims don't line up with my experience of the world. When I told the mechanic frankly and cheerfully the other day that I was going to get a comparison quote before making my decision, he DID get hurt and huffy: his tone, his attitude, his behavior, and his words all lined up with THAT theory, and not with the theory that he was totally okay with it, so I'm not sure who it is that is "misinterpreting reality" here. And when someone tailgates me and then, at the earliest opportunity, ROARS around me and then zoops back in RIGHT in front of me with an irritable shimmy of the trunk, I can tell they WERE INDEED impatient with my driving-only-ten-miles-over-the-limit. And when someone sighs heavily and inches their cart riiiiiight behind me at the grocery store and starts ostentatiously craning to see around me, it is not that I am IMAGINING that stuff because of some crazy psychotic perception problem: I am PICKING UP ON THE NON-VERBAL SIGNALS THAT HUMAN BEINGS DO IN FACT EMIT.
I think it's not that my anxiety is causing me to imagine something that isn't there, but rather that people like my former psychologists are deficient at picking up such non-verbal signals. Or perhaps they're denying that those behaviors DO exist, on the basis that they SHOULDN'T exist. Like, because my mechanic SHOULD BE fine with me getting a second quote, he IS fine with it.
I realize you could at this point say, "But that's just your ANXIETY DISORDER telling you so"---as if I were saying I WAS INDEED getting instructions from the voices in my head, and that YOU just weren't hearing it. Well, and that's the tactic the mental health professionals took as well, so you'd be in good company if you went that route. Or I'm sure there's a term for taking one's own problem and turning it into someone ELSE'S problem---like, look at me taking attention off my anxiety disorder by flipping things around and claiming my therapists were the ones who had problems with reality. But at what point does someone else's opinion of how things work trump MY opinion of how things work? Do you see what I mean? This is why "Who is REALLY crazy here???" plotlines are so popular: do I need help because I am especially sensitive to body/attitude/voice language, or should my former psychology team get help because they aren't? Am I imagining things, or are other people failing to pick up on things? WHO here is the one turning their OWN problem into someone ELSE'S problem, HMMMMM??
Now, when they argued that I shouldn't CARE, that was another matter. I might disagree ("shouldn't care about others" is a philosophy we need to actively work on getting MORE of?), but I could see that point: it's good to care about other people's feelings and I don't generally want to deliberately flip that switch off, but there are times when my own preferences need to take precedence (decisions about my own money, for example, or decisions about my own body or my own free time), and in those cases it would be nice to activate a "I might feel an instinct to care---but I should try to SUPPRESS it in THIS case, or at least realize it's unnecessary/silly so it doesn't stop me from doing what I want/need to do" attitude. And THAT seems like a worthy pursuit.
This could apply when, for example, I want to get a second quote on a repair, or a second opinion about a diagnosis: we don't need to deny the reality of a professional's feelings/reactions ("Oh, THEY don't mind!!") in order to argue that we should nevertheless pursue our plan ("They very naturally might mind, but it is still the right decision to compare").
Or maybe I see a post that states that blogging should be a way I disagree it should be, and
so I immediately get anxious and upset: this person will think I am doing
it wrong, then, and I don't want them to think I am doing it wrong. I may realize I
have the right to disagree---but I don't WANT to disagree, I want us to
AGREE that I am RIGHT; it would be nice to instead be able to override/dismiss
that want. Or when I
need to get a second opinion on a medical situation: I WANT the doctor
to WANT me to get a second opinion---but if he or she doesn't, I would
like to be able to override that want with a shrug.
I'm not sure that's that easy, though. The psychology people I talked to had a "Now that you know you shouldn't care, you will be able to stop! Ta da! It's like magic!!" attitude, but I don't think that's how personality and temperament work.
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...