Saturday, September 1, 2007


First, a shout out to my commenting pals.  Thanks for leaving notes every once in awhile -- nice to know I'm not just writing this for myself (although that probably wouldn't be so bad either -- just to have a record of what's going on in my life).

Today's Stepford Spa experience was an hour long session with a therapist who was supposed to teach me Stress Management.

I think I hurt his feeling when, at the end of the session, he asked me if I thought anything he taught me would be helpful and I said, "I don't know."  He sorta stared at me for a few minutes.  That can't be good.  But I figured, hey, these sessions are all about honesty, right?

Reducing 50 minutes of not-entirely-psychobabble to the bare minimum, here's what he gave me:

1.  Stress is not caused by outside stressors.  It is caused by you yourself having expectations that the world is not living up to.

2.  The way around this is to accept the present situation.

3.  OK, sure, do every action within your power to move the situation more in line with your expectations, but when that fails, accept the situation.

4.  You don't have to like it or approve of it, just accept that it is.

5.  Live in the present moment.  Like, right now, I should be paying attention to the words I'm typing, the sound of the keys clicking, and the way the laptop feels under my wrist.  When I'm doing this, I'm living in the present and can't be thinking about why the repairs in my living room still haven't been completed.  It's kinda zen, I think.

6.  To help with living in the present, try some "mindful breathing."  Basically, close your eyes and breathe, and pay attention to the breathing.  If your mind starts wondering, bring it back to the process of breathing.

7.  He said that when this happens, you get a better understanding of what's going on in your head.  I disappointed him in that no thoughts came into my head as I was being a good girl and concentrating on my breathing.

8.  Well, OK, the thought "I already took a breathing class here last year; how much of this session are we going to waste with me sitting here breathing?" came to mind, but I decided to be a good girl and accept that I was just going to do the breathing exercise.

9.  Diversion is good.  At least, this whole "accept the stressor and live in the present" sort of diversion thing.  There's a point when diversion becomes unhelpful, but diversion in reasonable amounts is acceptable.

10.  I think this means that "Project Buy Happiness" is still a go.  Although I didn't raise it directly with him, it seems like it's "putting myself into a happier present," so he'd be good with it.

11.  Actually, what was damn frustrating (but not at all stressful, because, y'know, I'm all about acceptance) about the session is that it was largely covering stuff I already know.  I'm already pretty good at identifying the source of the problem, doing what I can to fix it, and then trying to otherwise make myself happy.  OK, sure, I haven't used the terminology of acceptance and living in the present, but I'm largely on that page.  What I needed from this guy were techniques to put myself into a happier present -- and even when I asked him point blank for ideas, he didn't come up with anything (other than noting that exercise or hobbies or other pursuits we can throw ourselves into are good things).

Perhaps I need an "Advanced Stress Management" course.

1 comment:

ukgal36 said...

I would love to go to one of these Spa's...I need to try some Zen for my frazzled self..have a good weekend...