Win Wednesday: Share Your Anxiety-Related "Wins"!We all know how difficult anxiety disorders are. We all know how easy it is to focus on the negatives: the endless setbacks, the embarrassment, and the ever-present triggers.

It’s exhausting, isn’t it?

Well, let’s counter all of that exhaustion. It’s time to focus on the wins.

Enter “Win Wednesday”.

Admittedly, I’m sort of borrowing this concept from an ADHD forum on the social bookmarking and forum website Reddit.com. There’s a “subreddit” (or sub-forum) specifically for folks with ADHD — and each Wednesday, users post their “wins” — no matter how small.

Every success, after all, demonstrates progress — right?

Users reflect upon the past 7 days and share those brief-but-stunning periods of clarity, productivity, and organization that many ADHD’ers are constantly seeking. Here’s just a few examples from a recent Win Wednesday post:

  • “I cleaned my desk off, and the area around it!”
  • “Since the start of the year, I’ve gotten away without doing the reading in a lecture/seminar based course, because I’m bright and wily [sic] enough to get good grades while bullshitting my way through conversation. But tonight, I actually sat down and did the whole reading. A small victory, but a victory nonetheless.”
  • “I actually studied last week and got 84% on a math test.”

“WIN WEDNESDAY” FOR THE PANICKY CROWD

I think Win Wednesday would be perfect for us anxiety and panic sufferers. It’s so easy to remember the bad times while discounting the good times, isn’t it? Why do we do such a thing?

Drs. Rick Hanson and Rick Mendius, in Positive Emotions and Taking in the Good, note that our preference for paying more attention to life’s less-than-stellar moments is an artifact of our primitive brain.

But why?

Well, negative experiences pose more of a threat to our survival. Close encounters with wild animals are a great example — remembering the god-awful experience of being stared down by a too-close-for-comfort mountain lion is probably going to singe a bold mark in your mind. That bold mark, in turn, primes you to be on the alert for mountain lions and better prepared to GTFO when you spot one.

If you don’t, you die. (A pretty intense incentive, don’t you think?)

OUR MODERN ANXIETY TRIGGERS

We still have the same circuitry, unfortunately, despite the fact that today’s common threats — deadlines, unreasonably demanding bosses, and bumps in the night — are far less life-threatening.

This is a problem for us. Today. In 2013.

It doesn’t serve us well any longer. Does dwelling on your anxiety help you? Surely not. Does it make you feel any better about life? Nah; didn’t think so.

From Hanson & Mendius:

“…[T]he negative generally trumps the positive: A single bad event with a dog is more memorable than 1000 good times. Speaking of dogs,you may know of the studies on learned helplessness from Martin Seligman and his colleagues, which illustrate this point in haunting ways: it took only a short time to induce a sense of helplessness in the dogs, whose brain circuitry for emotional memory is very similar to our own. But it took an extraordinary effort to get them to unlearn that training. It’s as if we are predisposed to believe the worst about the world and ourselves, and to doubt the best.”

So, how do we emphasize our successes?

Hanson & Mendius call for “extend[ing] the success through time and space”. In other words, making the successful experience (seem to, at least) last longer.

That’s the goal of Win Wednesday: to stop us from forgetting about the good stuff. To offer us a place to brag about how we succeeded this week. To give us a chance to reflect, remember, and “extend” our successes.

So, every Wednesday (beginning tomorrow), I’ll be making a new “Win Wednesday” post. I’ll share my own personal wins with you — and, in turn, I hope you’ll share yours!

Photo: Va Svak (Flickr)

 







    Last reviewed: 22 Apr 2013

APA Reference
Beretsky, S. (2013). Win Wednesday: Share Your Anxiety-Related “Wins”!. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/panic/2013/04/win-wednesday-share-your-anxiety-related-wins/

 

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