Can you Predict the Future?
Melissa’s boss Vince is provoking her because of his own insecurity. He is trying to build himself up by tearing her down. Vince may sense her vulnerability and he sees her as a “safe” target. Instead of melting down, Melissa can choose to catch herself “transferring” old feelings from her past (her overcritical mother) to authority figures in the present. She can choose to disengage from this counter productive antagonism. She can choose not to give Vince the power to make her a helpless victim. She is a grown up now.
Underlying Melissa’s anxious, obessessive thoughts is the desire to predict the future. She is trying to solve a problem in the present, to prevent disaster in the future. She is trying to come up with a plan to feel secure about some problem that may or may not happen tomorrow. In the meantime her life is on hold until she finds an acceptable solution to this potential problem.
I encouraged her to replace her planning with trust. She can trust her judgment as good enough to solve problems as they unfold. She can trust her judgment to do the best she can with what she knows at the time. She would prefer to predict the future accurately and prevent disaster. Of course, who wouldn’t. However, she is not guilty of failure when she is unable to to forecast with 100% accuracy.
We cannot control the future. We can only live in the present. Melissa can choose to trust her judgment to tell her what is best based on what she knows in a present situation. If she finds out later that her judgment was mistaken, she can make another decision. Melissa can catch herself trying to predict the future. Instead, she can choose to focus on the reality of the situation and take life as it comes.
An individual who accepts her/himself unconditionally as a worthwhile human in spite of his/her faults and imperfections, does not experience the stress of anxiety. For example, if someone were to say that s/he was stupid, s/he would be able to recognize it as antagonism and disengage from it. S/He might say, “I never thought of it that way. I don’t know what to tell you,” and walk away.
We can catch ourselves in the act of dwelling on others’ negative judgements and ask ourselves a focusing question: “What difference does it make?” The answer is, “None at all”. Self-respecting people do not evaluate themselves on the basis of external appearances. One way to test this would be to allow others to believe whatever they want and see if anyone faints.
Melissa is learning that negative things happen to imperfect people in an imperfect world. She is learning to trust her judgment to tell her which decisions must be resolved immediately, which can wait, and which do not need to be resolved at all. She is learning to trust her judgment to tell her how much planning is too much and how much is enough. Melissa’s judgment is not perfect; perfection is not a human trait. Her judgment is good enough to get the job done.
Tags: Anger Management, Archive
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