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Thread: Nothing Works and coping with real threat

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Posts
    50

    Nothing Works and coping with real threat

    I have read Nothing Works. Some of you here have praised it and let me join the choir. If I were religious, I would not doubt that Chris is an angel.
    Processing some of this, thinking about anxiety and the general worries that life contains, Nothing works gave rise to some reflections or issues that I would like to find an answer to.
    Anxiety is basically – generally speaking - a physical response to negative thoughts blown out of proportion. Ok.
    For me, and I don’t know if that’s general, my mind is preoccupied with wanting to be prepared for whatever crisis or tragedy that may happen in the future. How will I cope? Maybe one day I will have to face the fear of being in the doctor’s office getting a serious diagnosis. Maybe one day a loved one will fall ill. Chances are that fear for real reasons will come one day. When anxious, I’m really preoccupied with this feeling of not having the resources or a plan to help me cope. When I’m not anxious, I’m still preoccupied with this – how will I face real danger? What are my resources? How do people cope with real life threats?
    Maybe the question is an existential one. Yes, I can go by doing what Chris suggests, reading a book, playing a game with my kids and feel grateful for not being faced with any real threat today. Be happy doing nothing. On this forum we tell each other ‘you’re fine’, ‘none of what you’re fearing is real’. I like to be reassured that everyone really is fine, but this safe haven of everything being fine seems kind of deceitful, because chances are that one day… Somehow I need to answer this question to “let go” of my anxiety. Will doing nothing also help when and if that day comes, when there is a real threat?
    Is this just one of the ultimate challenges in life, does the answer lie in whatever wisdom we may develop over the years? What do you all do to build up your resources to cope with real life and death? Does the answer lie in spirituality, mindfulness, ACT, positive thinking, simple living, doing nothing?
    Love to hear your reflections, even though I know it’s a big one on a Wednesday night.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    23,630

    Re: Nothing Works and coping with real threat

    So, it sounds like your battle is in relinquishing control and practicing acceptance. Accepting that today is just today and what happens, happens. But also learning to feel ok that you don't have to have a disaster plan. Fight or flight looks for solutions engaging that part of the thinking but you have nothing to think about because there is no threat to engage it with. So, it's about learning to be comfortable with not being always prepared and having confidence in yourself that you will engage with that and create a plan, if and when the time comes.

    Acceptance is an important part of life whether we knowingly engage it or not. For instance, everyone is always talking about fear of death but death is a given in life so it's not really about death, is it? It must be about something else like an early death and how that will impact on those around you, the things you will miss, etc. As you age, I think death becomes automatically accepted normally.

    For instance, my parents are in their mid seventies and this means they have been seeing loved ones and friends dieing for some time now. Their attitude is a natural form of acceptance, they don't need to try to accept it because to them it is normal at this stage of life. When my nan died, she even said she had done everything she ever would and would rather just go. She died very shortly afterwards.

    I believe it is important to know the true issues underpinning things, the core beliefs we are taught about in therapy. But these can have many "attached cores" like the petals on a flower surrounding the centre and to truly resolve the core belief removing some petals won't do it because it will just replace them, you kill the central core belief they are connected to and then they all drop off with it. Exposure therapy works on that principle.

    So, do you know what could be behind your need for control? Is it merely that you have become more sensitised in which case Chris' advice to learn to live your life without fighting anxiety (to let it go away naturally) will achieve that? Or is there something else in there that needs something more targeted?

    Something I have learned in recent years is that sometimes a big threat can mean your proactive side just takes over and the anxiety only seems to come after you've dealt with it all. This is really how fight or flight should work, either make us run way/hide or make us handle the situation. Sometimes we find we have more strength than we realised and sometimes for some reason things hit us harder.

    In terms of dealing with real threat, the answer lies in resolving the irrational anxiety instead because no method like that or any therapy will resolve a real threat. You will either learn more about handling panic so you can reduce it's impact in that situation or you will need to learn from people who teach ways to control panic is real threat scenarios. In this paragraph I mean you have recovered fully prior to facing a real threat since learning to control emotions in this situation is different and is a matter of training & experience.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Posts
    50

    Re: Nothing Works and coping with real threat

    Terry,
    Thanks - again - for contributing with your good and useful perspectives.

    I feel that you are very right about the need for acceptance and confidence to give up control. I see the control issues and feel them vividly during anxiety.

    The core of the flower must be some kind of issue with confidence. Something about building the confidence to trust that I can be alone with myself when that day comes. Practicing paying attention to what I want and do not want seems right and helps.

    I did find Chris' presentation of oversensitisation very useful. Let anxiety do its works, and it helps stop negative and fearful thought patterns and just be here and now. Some form of mindfulness, I suppose? But I agree with you that coming to an understanding on a deeper level is missing somehow. For me. I think you are also saying that it depends on whatever situation you are in and how you perceive your issues.

    Thanks for making it concrete in terms of dealing – or accepting not to deal - with thoughts of real threat. It is very very useful.

    I hope you’re right that when we reach an older age, the thought of dying will not be so bad. My grandparents did not pass in the most beautiful ways, and I’ve had relatives die too young. But it’s all a matter of the perspective we choose for ourselves, and I can choose and practice a different perspective.

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