The worst thing to say to a chronic worrier is “Stop worrying”. It only makes me worry more quietly. I must permit myself to be nervous. In social situations, I withdraw and protect.
Round and round the circle. “I must be authentic,” I wrote yesterday. Well, much of what prevents authenticity is nervousness. I noted this in 2012: The image of life as an apple tree came to me. I have been so afraid, of the other people around the tree, and of the tree itself, that I have rushed at it, collided with it and bruised myself on it, snatched at it so that I carry away nothing, or a dry twig, or some dead leaves. Whereas I may walk to it…and find the apple which feels to me most beautiful… if I touch it in the right way it will come off in my hand. That only says, it is good not to be nervous, and often there is no reason to be nervous. It is no more than the inner critic would say-
“There’s nothing to worry about. You’re useless, worrying.” So worry and nervousness become another indicator of my uselessness, and I suppress them out of consciousness. I probably am more nervous than I need be, but fearing and denying nervousness makes things worse.
My self-image is more important to me than events in the real world.
Oh wow! I suppose I knew that, but I have not put it into words before. Putting it into words makes me see it more clearly. That is why sitting wrapped up and still pretty cold, not going out or seeing anyone most days, is life just about as good as I could wish for. My self-image is a lie- clearly I am afraid, angry or nervous however much I deny it, probably I suppress other things as well. These feelings continue affecting me and my behaviour, more so because I must deny them. OK, I am nervous. If I am among other people I will get nervous, and if I beat myself up for being inauthentic when nervous, it will only get worse.
So: permit, acknowledge and welcome the nervousness. It is uncomfortable, but better than suppression. Suppression only works for a limited time, like holding your breath: you need to hold your breath under water, but after two minutes you become unconscious.
If I hear the nervousness, and recognise it, I might behave authentically.
That evening, I managed to make myself the focus of the group, and they were all irritated with me. They expressed that, and I answered without attacking but holding my ground. And after, chatting in a friendly manner with one of them,
It felt as if I was the REAL ME!
It felt completely wonderful. It has been one of my myths. I identified that real me as female, and hated the poem I wrote about it because I had to deny that. What if, it was just that at that moment I was no longer nervous and self-suppressing, because the confrontation had happened and I had come through unscathed? It might have made me seek out confrontation, for that feeling, but I am glad it did not.
I do not know much about CBT, but all the techniques I know are for thinking about present and future. And I spend a great deal of time analysing the past. Mmm. There was a better response which would have achieved more in that moment. I am useless! I am not going to stop this, but might ameliorate it by appreciating all the good in my responses, and forgiving anything I might regret.
And finally, Donald Trump. He tweeted, Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love! And news organisations, and clickbait sites, round the world, breathlessly reported it. It is unpresidential- well, of course, we knew that. It pleases his supporters, and enrages his opponents. The answer is, not to be enraged, it’s only Donald being his ghastly self, but note it down: the evidence against him mounts.