Reframing Anxiety

Reframing Anxiety

Attached to the back side of our garage is a built-on storage “cabinet” about four feet in height. When we moved into our place about four years ago, I noticed that cabinet had considerable wear and tear, but I continued to store unimportant and miscellaneous items in it.

Then THE tree struck it. Actually, two years ago, a big fir tree from the forest behind our garage blew over during a ferocious wind storm. When the 75 foot giant fell, the top of it landed right between the garage and our camping trailer. There was about a six foot space which the top of this tree settled right into. The tree trimmer guys suggested we may wish to begin playing the lottery since our luck was so good in this instance. The fir could have easily smashed our garage or flattened our trailer. However when the tree came down a couple branches only punctured the roof of our old four foot high cabinet.

Now, I can avoid fixing things as good as the next guy. In this case I simply put a plastic tarp over the unit and made a mental note to repair it in the spring time. Well that was two springs ago.

This was finally the summer that I would rebuild the entire cabinet. So, last week I asked a retired builder friend, Carl, to take a look at my project. Within mere moments he began speaking in “builder-speak”. I think I only understood about half of what he said. The most helpful thing he provided me with was the assurance that I didn’t really want to tackle this project alone. So as luck would have it, he volunteered to give me a hand with the project. But since he would be leaving for his out-of-state snowbird dwelling in a few weeks, that meant I could postpone the project for yet another half year. More plastic to cover the “holy” roof.

Carl informed me that we would need to frame a foundation first and then reframe the entire (to be demolished) cabinet. No big deal for him. But it would be for me.

It has occurred to me that we often do with our emotions, as I have done with my out-of-doors storage closet. Avoid…avoid…avoid. Take anxiety for example, when most of us experience that horrible anxiety stuff, we tend to avoid the feelings.

I am writing this piece at 5:02 a.m. not because I intended to meet the day this early with great creativity, but because of anxiety. You see, last weekend my wife and I went to our local Toyota dealer to look for a new truck. After making the deal, except for them looking at the car we would trade in, all things were set. My wife took the potential trade in vehicle back to the dealer yesterday for them to quote a trade in price. Of course they REALLY  low-balled us. So low that I woke up this morning about 4:00 a.m. anxious about how I was going to deal with the situation. My first response is to AVOID the car salesman as much as I have the cabinet project. But that just results in things getting worse and worse.

So after getting out of bed with my racing mind up bright and early, I made the decision to “reframe” my anxious thoughts. You see, just like Carl and I will be reframing the old cabinet, we all can breathe new life into our emotions by “reframing” our thoughts. We do this through two steps. Step 1: oddly enough we start by “going into” the anxiety rather than running (avoidance and denial) from it. Then Step 2: we look for ways to change our perspective on the issue…to “reframe” our thoughts.

Regarding the new truck, my reframed thought is that “I am not stuck with the deal”. In reframing, I am willing to walk away from the deal unless the dealer offers me a more reasonable price for our old vehicle.

By facing and reframing my anxiety, I noticed that the anxiety dissipated. It did take me to this keyboard this early morning, but it also could have taken me back to bed. Going into the anxiety rather than running from it typically provides much better results. Give it a try.

Tim Berry

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