I used to be an eternal optimist.
I believed in the happy ending.
But travelling the journey of grief, depression and anxiety has changed me. I wouldn’t say that I am a pessimist. I wouldn’t even try to convince you that I was a realist.
I’ve decided that I’m a ‘worst-case-scenario-ist.’ Trust me, it’s a thing.
‘How is this different from being a pessimist?’ I hear you asking.
Let’s take the glass is half full/empty analogy. An optimist says that the glass is half full. Yay! The pessimist says the glass is half empty. Boo. Me? I see the glass as half full but what I also see is the harbinger of doom that is, if the glass is only half full then the bottle must be empty.
All joking aside, the things we experience in our lives leave indelible marks on us and they can change the way we see things.
I’ve recently be dealing with a government agency and a large corporation that I work with and instead of going into those dealings with a positive perspective – that this is just a small administration issue that we can sort out quickly and easily – I’ve had been running worst case scenarios through my brain on constant rotation. Almost to the point where I am tempted to just throw up my hands and walk away because I just can’t see it working out in my favour.
What really got me thinking about the way my mind seems to head for the worst-case scenario was the other day when I was having a massage. I had my phone on silent (as you do when you go for a massage) unfortunately it was also on vibrate. So, there I was on my way to a lovely, deep relaxation and my phone started to vibrate. I am not a person who receives a lot of phone calls so I was immediately trying to figure out who would be trying to call me. My husband knew I had a massage appointment, so he wouldn’t call me. My children were at work so they wouldn’t call me. Then I remembered. I had had some medical tests the day before – Monday. I had made an appointment to see my doctor on Friday to get the results. My brain somehow decided that the phone call must be from the doctors office and the doctor was calling me because they had received my results and they couldn’t wait until Friday to see me. My mind tried to tell me that they had discovered some life threatening disease and that I was going to die. So, instead of relaxing and enjoying my massage, I was busily trying to organise my funeral and what I would tell my kids. I was trying to work out how to tell my husband and even deciding whether I would tell him or not. My son is getting married in a couple of weeks and the last thing I wanted was to bring the mood down by my diagnosis.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I’m a little crazy. Let me tell you that when I got up from my massage, I was feeling a little crazy. I couldn’t believe the things I was thinking about. I couldn’t believe that one missed phone call had started off a whole chain of events that had me thinking I was going to die.
The first thing I did when I got up off the table was check my phone and guess what…it wasn’t the doctor. It was a telemarketer. A. Telemarketer. I had wasted my entire massage worrying about dying when it was just a telemarketer trying to sell me something I don’t want or need.
I had let those indelible marks on my life hijack my brain. After that incident I have been taking a bit of a closer look at what my first response is to any given situation and I’m always reaching for the worst-case-scenario. I have to actually stop and talk myself off the ledge.
It’s easy to reach for the worst-case-scenario. It’s easy to let your mind walk down that well-trodden path, but you always end up at the same place. If you want things in your life to change, then you have to change your thinking.