Approaching or entering a very large, unfamiliar mall or airport for the first time can be a daunting task. People, noise and the unknown are often accompanied by feelings of anxiety, overwhelm and confusion. But everything changes quickly once you spot the large map inside the entrance that shows the building layout. What is probably the most comforting symbol is one that states "You Are Here". Once you know where you are it is easy to figure out how to get where you want to be.
Many first-time clients go through a similar situation. At their scheduled appointment time, I receive a panicky telephone call. They are lost! They usually have the correct address but not a clue as to how to find it.
My first question is "Where are you now?" to which they often reply "I don't know". So I ask "What do you see?" I ask them to describe their vehicle. Then I stand on the sidewalk outside our office building and, because we are on a hill, might be able to spot them many blocks away, heading in the wrong direction. Once I know where they are, however, it is easy to guide them as they drive and very rewarding to see the smile and relief on their face when, a few minutes later, they arrive at the office.
Life can be confusing at times. If you are lost in thoughts of the past, your "I should have" or "I could have" ideas can trap you into a depression over things that can no longer can be changed. If you are constantly thinking "What if... ", you are worrying about what hasn't even happened yet and may actually be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Both of these steal your time, energy and focus from what would otherwise be happiness and productivity.
One of the first things that therapists are taught is that awareness is the first step to healing. You need to know where you are before you can get to where you want to be. Following is an exercise that will help you with that.
At the top of a blank piece of paper write "I am here". Then draw a vertical line down the middle of the page. In the left hand column write a list of everything that is going well for you. These are your blessings. Remember to add items that are usually taken for granted, like good health, ability to pay your bills, or friendly neighbours. Make a goal to fill this column right to the bottom of the page with one thing on each line. Hopefully you will be able to not only fill the column on this page but over time, will actually have more than one page of things for which you can be thankful.
When this is done, begin listing the things that you are unhappy about or dissatisfied with in the column on the right-hand side of the page. Invest time and thought into this so that you don't miss anything.
Once you have completed your lists it is time to take action. Begin with the right-hand column.
Mark all the items that involve other individuals. Your worry doesn't solve their problems and none of us can change another people's behaviours so it's time to work on other options for yourself. Perhaps you need to recognize and respect the fact that they are responsible for all of their own choices (good and bad) and what results from them. Live and let live! You might want to confront them with your concerns. Only do this ONCE and then let it go. Otherwise you become part of the problem.
Some situations in life are devastating and even though you cannot do anything about them, you might need help to get through them in a healthy manner. Illness, injury or death or a loved one are good examples of this. List the people or places where you can find good support.
The next step is to identify the things that you can change and start working on an action plan. If you don't like your job or would like a better income, for example, you might need to take some training, register for an appropriate educational program or begin applying for other jobs. Business owners would be wise to review their financial statements in order to find weaknesses so they can implement creative and positive change.
Now stop worrying and complaining! Recognize that fear may try to stop you from taking action so you will need to find ways to overcome it. One of these is to remember to give thanks for what you have already (things in the left-hand column).
The good news is that once you have a plan and begin implementing it, time will pass quickly. It won't be long until you will be able to delete the problem from the right-hand column and list your achieved goal in the left-hand column.
Don't wait another day. Right now is the best to me to figure out where you are so that you can get to where you really want to be.