Friday, 15 May 2020

From Worrywart to Worry Warrior

This is the person I want to work with. In the SEALs, people are elevated to a special status, giving them something to achieve, something to strive for. You're looking at this person, and you want to be like him or her. So in your case you are looking at someone with this amazing body and you want that body. Who do you think they are? They're you! That's it. For care soliciting, trust is foremost. You feel comfort in expressing your weak thoughts and feelings because you trust a person to respond caringly. When trust is high, you feel less at risk disclosing your problems, self-doubt, and neediness. As you think about the people you trust, you become aware that you trust different people with different vulnerability parts of your life. For example, you may feel comfortable in discussing your intimate relationship--but not your financial woes--with a certain person. With someone else, it might be just the opposite. Areas of your life that you might need help with include work, health, marriage or an intimate relationship, finances, social life, parental relationships, and sibling relationships. Knowing in advance whom you can solicit care from in each arena when you are feeling vulnerable allows you to utilize your care-soliciting instincts quickly and get the help you need. You won't feel, I'm all alone. There's nobody to help me. Psychological well-being has been defined as the self-evaluated level of the person's competence and the self, weighted in terms of the person's hierarchy of goals (Lawton, 1996, p 328). Frisch (1998) defined happiness as the extent to which important goals, needs, and wishes have been fulfilled (p35). Along with researchers, therapists are increasingly advocating a motivational analysis of life trajectories.

For example, quality of life therapy (Frisch, 1998) advocates the importance of revising goals, standards, and priorities as a strategy for boosting life happiness and satisfaction. Similarly, the development of goals that allow for a greater sense of purpose of life is one of the cornerstones of well-being therapy (Fava, 1999), meaning-centered counseling (Wong, 1998), and goal-focused group psychotherapy (Klausner et al, 1998). People spend significant amounts of their daily lives reflecting on, deciding between, and pursuing personally important and meaningful goals, goals that lend order and structure to these lives. Without goals, life would lack structure and purpose. Goals, according to Klinger (1998), serve as the linchpin of psychological organization (p44). As internal representations of desired outcomes, they determine the contents of consciousness. Most thoughts and accompanying emotional states are determined by goals. They are you. They are you at this point in time, and they went down this road a while ago and incrementally worked their way toward this. This is who you are going to be in the future. In SEAL training no one slaps a Budweiser in your hand when you get to the end. You work for it. There's a progression. You start out at a beginning level and the tasks get progressively harder. You're going to get good at swimming a mile before they have you swimming five miles. It works like that. Nobody who became a SEAL or a Marine started out that way. After you deliberate about this, make a list of all the people who meet your trust criterion and next to their names list the areas of your life you would feel comfortable in asking for their help when needed. Next, evaluate each person in respect to their availability to you. Availability is important because it increases your speed for getting support.

Certainly, it was more beneficial to the clan to get the help it needed from within its group than having to travel overland to another clan. Today, you have a lot better chance of surviving a heart attack if there is a hospital within minutes, than if you have to drive an hour or wait an hour for an ambulance to arrive. Thus, you may find that you are excluding people who are highly trustworthy. Parents who live in another state or a friend who's overwhelmed with her job and three kids, may be trustworthy, but if they're not available to you, they shouldn't make your list. My suggestion would be to build a team that has at least four people so that there is always someone who can give you support. Do this by going down your list of trustworthy people and choose the first four that are most available to you. These four people make up your A team. Klinger (1998) has demonstrated that our preoccupations and the emotions we feel are tied to the nature of our goals and the status of these pursuits. Further, because quality of life is determined by the contents of consciousness (Csiskszentmihalyi, 1990), goal striving should be at the forefront of a science of positive psychology. Goals are the concretized expression of future orientation and life purpose, and provide a convenient and powerful metric for examining these vital elements of a positive life. Goals are essential components of a person's experience of his or her life as meaningful and contribute to the process by which people construe their lives as meaningful or worthwhile. For example, a generative goal to teach my son to make a difference in his community lends meaning and direction to the role of parenthood. The goals construct has given form and substance to the amorphous concept of meaning in life that humanistic psychology has long understood as a key element of human functioning. Some have argued that the construct of meaning has no meaning outside of a person's goals and purposes--that is, what a person is trying to do. Goals are signals that orient a person to what is valuable, meaningful, and purposeful. This is not to say, however, that all goals provide meaning or even contribute to a sense of meaning. Many goals are trivial or shallow and, although necessary for daily functioning, have little capacity to contribute to a sense that life is meaningful. That's day three hundred or year fifteen to get the kind of body you are looking for. SEALs or Marines didn't begin with that body. People assume that I'm me and they're them.

We're different. No. You are not. Those people are you. They're just heading along a different path, a path they started on a long time ago and one you are now embarking on. Don't quit on yourself. You can get there. Help comes in many ways. Sometimes, we get tangibles, such as a cash gift or loan. Other times, we get the care we need in the form of being listened to. Care comes in many packages. Throughout life many incidents threaten our security. A possible job layoff, a project that overwhelms us, or a possible divorce are all examples that make most people feel extremely vulnerable. Yet most people confronted with these adversities fall into a thinking pattern that only makes the situation worse. The majority of people seeking help through psychotherapy enter the therapy process with many distorted thoughts. Indeed, these distorted thoughts intensify our feelings of vulnerability- we feel extra weak and overwhelmed. For example, an employee distorts a boss's critical comment into the thought, My career is over, or a husband distorts the fact that his wife is 5 minutes late into, The whole evening is ruined. Psychologists are beginning to warm to the concept of personal meaning (Wong & Fry, 1998) and are gradually recognizing that despite its somewhat vague and boundless nature, the topic can be seriously and fruitfully investigated (Debats, 1996 Ryff, 1989 Wong & Fry, 1998). The scientific and clinical relevance of the personal meaning construct has been demonstrated in the adjustment literature, in which indicators of meaningfulness (eg, purpose in life, a sense of coherence) predict positive functioning (French & Joseph, 1999 Robak & Griffin, 2000), whereas indicators of meaninglessness (eg, anomie, alienation) are regularly associated with psychological distress and pathology (Baumeister, 1991 Keyes, 1998 Seeman, 1991). Recent empirical research has demonstrated that a strong sense of meaning is associated with life satisfaction and happiness, and a lack of meaning is predictive of depression and disengagement (Reker & Wong, 1988 Wong & Fry, 1998).

Meaning is conceptualized in most research as a relatively independent component of well-being, and researchers have recently advocated including it in conceptual models of well-being, quality of life, and personal growth (Compton, Smith, Cornish, & Qualls, 1996; Ryff & Keyes, 1995). Consensus is emerging on what can be considered to be a taxonomy of meaning. Table 5. 1 shows the major categories of life meaning that have emerged across three different research programs on personal meaning. What is impressive is that these studies have used diverse methodologies (including rating scales, surveys, and interviews) in heterogeneous populations. The four life meaning categories of achievements/work, relationships/intimacy, religion/spirituality, and self-transcendence/generativity appear to encompass most of the domains in which people strive for a sense of meaning. When I was in my BUD/S training, I often stopped to realize that hundreds of men have done this before me--it's not like they came up with this yesterday and I'm the first guy doing it. Thousands did this before me. They were able to get through it, and they got fit to new levels. I don't know what point B looks like for you, but you've got to head down that path and find out. EXPERT TIP You've got to cut yourself some slack, too. You're learning to behave in a different way. If fitness hasn't been a part of your life and you are trying to incorporate this line of being and you blow it, put that day behind you. There's no losing. There's learning. Distorted thinking, unique to humans, spurs the creation of maladaptive cognitive adaptations--like looking through a prism, distorted thoughts cause us to misperceive the reality of the situation, and these misperceptions often create moments of exaggerated feelings of vulnerability. Other times, our thoughts are free from distortions, but nevertheless, we lock into a particular viewpoint that prevents us from moving forward. Rigid thinking is the semiclinical phrase.

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