Thursday, 21 May 2020

What am I prepared to change?

Fear of failure, of rejection, of bombing--these are the fears we're best acquainted with. But some individuals sabotage their own struggle to succeed, often without being aware they are, simply by fearing what success might bring. They're not ready to handle certain consequences of winning. And even a flicker of worry about those consequences can be enough to ensure they don't bring them about by winning. In her piece of writing Champions Are Raised, Not Born, Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders tells how she missed qualifying for the '88 Olympics because of one tiny moment of fear--fear of winning. Pushing off for the last lap of the 200 individual medley, she shot a glance at the other lanes and saw not a single soul: She was completely in the lead. She could win the race. But while she'd envisioned swimming a great race, she hadn't at all planned on winning. As vacation trips go, it had been a hard one, and the lives we were going back to in Hong Kong held challenges for all three of us. Still, though, we had gone together through this period of time, making noise. That night, clinging to each other in the dark, we could hear it as music. I sit at home, on the floor, in front of my piece of writingcase. The move to Boston is under way; boxes and packing tape are strewn around, as are my school yearpiece of writings and photo albums. I am searching for a photo of myself taken recently, but instead I've found this other one, taken in 1994. I remember it well because my college roommates--those very roommates at the California wedding--had hung it on the door of a fridge we all shared. It made me want to cry every time I looked at it. The photo was taken during a water-ski outing and lauded by my roommates as a good picture. Activities are designed to help the patient develop different trains of thought that disrupt their usual self-destructive thinking patterns. Here, Cognitive Restructuring takes place along with other techniques designed to rehabilitate the patient's way of thinking.

Based on the CBT model, affecting change on the cognitive level will begin a positive chain effect to improve overall recovery. On top of helping the patient improve their daily thoughts, CBT also targets their attitudes and behaviors. Here, the therapist and patient focus on changing the way the patient looks at the things they do. With the CBT model in mind, the therapist and patient implement an array of daily activities designed to improve the quality of life for the patient. Here, strict adherence and effort are required. This is because these are big lifestyle changes that are geared toward a full recovery. Here, the patient must understand the value of the tasks they do with the therapist and commit to them even when they do not have the motivation to do so. This is also where the therapist uses the data, they've gathered during the assessment stage. When you catch yourself not bothered anymore by a former powerful fear, applaud yourself for doing so, but don't count it as part of your 30-day challenge. As always, move on and continue to challenge yourself. Out of all these ideas, suggestions, and questions, I love this one the most : Can I confront more than one fear per day? My answer to this is a very enthusiastic and emphatic, Hell, yeah, you can! Not surprising, those who ask me this question are the ones with high integrity and the ones that seem to always take the extra step to become high achievers in this training. Like any skill, the more you implement the 4-step cycle and practice it in real time with real fears, the better you will get at them. What usually happens for those who participate in this courage program is that it's usually a heavy burden to start off. But the more you do it, the easier it gets, bringing you increased gratification and a sense of accomplishment. Plus, the payoff of living courageously is rewarded pretty damn fast. As soon as you are done encountering the fear, regardless of the result, you will feel ecstatic and proud of yourself. Winning would mean going directly to Seoul for the Games, and--the thought raced through her mind--she hadn't even gotten herself a passport. I haven't packed!

she told herself. I don't have enough underwear! And what about school! That momentary fear was just enough to cost her the race. First or second place would have taken her to the Olympics; she came in third. She missed placing by twenty-seven one-hundredths of a second. Fear of success takes on many forms. In it I am standing in a boat wearing a bright-orange life jacket, and my hair is blowing around. I am smiling. I am also twenty-five pounds heavier in the picture than I am now, pounds I fought bitterly, without success, all through high school and college. None of my roommates could understand why this picture they loved catapulted me into misery. You look good! they would exclaim. You look happy! What they could not understand was that I felt woefully misrepresented by my own body in that shot, even though I had no real evidence to this effect. I'd been overweight since puberty and chunky as a kid, with the brief exception of my few glorious months as a junior-high cheerleader. I can't find that old cheerleading picture in this mess on my floor, either, but I remember it just as clearly: trim blue-and-white Eagles sweater, teal-blue eye shadow, shoulder-length blonde hair. The patient is made to enjoy daily activities once thought of as useless and futile. Here, the patient learns to love achievement and small pleasures, which is where their full recovery will begin.

What makes CBT so unique and effective isn't the type of techniques it uses. CBT stands out because it's one of the only approaches that aim to make the patient independent from the process itself. You only need to go through it once. After that, you become capable of self-help. This is what the last stage is for. With visible progress and improved quality of life already being experienced by the patient, the therapist undergoes one more task with the patient; which is learning the techniques used during CBT. With that knowledge, the patient can diagnose and treat themselves whenever their symptoms start to resurface. So if you feel strong and confident, be my guest and attack more than one fear per day. The worst thing you can do is get complacent after you hit your quota of one fear conquest per day. When the fear you know you can handle suddenly comes up, instead of facing it down, you postpone combating it till tomorrow so that it will count as part of your 30-day challenge. Fuck that. If the opportunity comes, don't wait for tomorrow; tackle the fear now. If you see a scary obstacle you know you can crush, why wait? You must approach all scary obstacles and problems like an enemy. Be merciful and end it as soon as you can. By defeating fear after fear, you will develop some much-needed positive momentum, not only in this 30-day challenge, but also in life. I've known managers who've gotten themselves passed over for promotion out of fear that a leadership position might alienate them from their former peers or even force them into the position of having to fire some of them. I've known realtors who passed on lucrative new accounts because they feared they'd have to overhaul themselves--new clothing, new car, new work habits--in order to fit in with an upscale clientele.

I worked with an author who had a wicked case of writer's block because she was afraid another successful novel would raise expectations of her even higher. And a deputy district attorney I counseled actually feared winning a high-profile case because she wasn't ready to handle the media intrusion. You get the idea: Success has a ripplelike effect. Not knowing what will be affected, or fearing that the consequences will be negative, is why people sometimes fear doing their best. The consequence most feared, interestingly, is a negative impact on one's social life. Leaving friends behind, having less time with family, having fame destroy the easy rapport with colleagues and strangers--these are the worries that get in the way of winning. Some competitors I've counseled don't want to have to edge out the competition. This was certainly the case with Steve Shelton, the Grand Prix driver whom I mentioned in the previous piece of writing. I can't say my cheer picture was an accurate self-representation, either, but it did represent satisfactory achievement of an ideal. The sweater (or the eye shadow? ) earned me the momentary attentions of a tall, handsome basketball player. But just as I felt the college water-skiing picture did not reflect my true self, so, too, was my true self busted in eighth grade for not living up to the sweater. The handsome ballplayer ended things after four chaste days with the self-deprecating excuse that he was not a guy who could talk to me about Shakespeare. (I knew nothing of Shakespeare in eighth grade! Nothing! ) Between the taking of the cheer picture (1988) and the taking of the water-skiing picture (1994), I read John Berger's Ways of Seeing. In it Berger famously says, Men look at women. With that in mind, they become their own therapist, excluding the need for another specialist. In this stage, the patient learns to pause and examine their thoughts and to enter into a state of retrospection.

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