Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Today's Breakthrough

Going to counseling in the morning just leaves me with so many things to think about for the rest of the day.

Last week I had to list my issues, the one that I thought was most insightful was that anxiety is my primary motivator. Four years ago, counseling taught me to manage my anxiety to the point that I was rid of it almost entirely for a few months. The result was that I became aimless. I started skipping class on a regular basis and wasted my life watching Law & Order reruns and eating Mint Milanos for dinner. It was an identity crisis, really. Without other people's expectations to tell me who I was and what I should do, I was lost.

So today I took the Myer-Briggs personality test. I told my counselor that I always had trouble with these tests in high school because I never knew whether to answer according the questions according to my behavior and thought when I was comfortable or uncomfortable in a situation. I could never choose whether I am easy to get to know or hard to get to know (question 33) because it depends completely upon my anxiety level. She told me to answer as though I had no anxiety. This was an interesting challenge because for some questions, I could answer based on certain instances or certain relationships in which I have not felt anxious, but for some of the questions, I could barely even imagine what my answer would be if I did not have anxiety disorder. For instance, question 47: When you are in an embarrassing spot, do you usually a) change the subject, b) turn it into a joke, or c) days later, think of what you should have said? Well, usually, days later, I think of what I should have said. But that is because I am usually anxious, and on the occasions that I'm not, I turn it into a joke. I have at some point in my life been embarrassed without being anxious. Then there was question 150: When you do business with strangers, do you feel a) confident and at ease, or b) a little fussed or afraid that they won't want to bother with you? Well, no experience to draw on there. I couldn't even imagine not feeling anxious in that situation. 

Often, while I was taking the test, I found that my anxious self is diametrically opposed to the person I feel I would be without this disorder. I realized, for the first time, that my anxiety and I are separate entities. Meaning, I was born with a certain personality. The environment in which I was raised triggered a genetic predisposition to anxiety and depression, and I let those disorders overrun my natural personality. The implication is that my anxiety is learned, which means I can unlearn it and figure out who I really am.

Shaant said that was a "cool thought process." It is rather brilliant, isn't it?

P.S. Favorite question on the Myers-Briggs: 137: When you find yourself in the wrong, would you rather a) admit you are wrong, or b) not admit it, though everyone knows it, c) or don't you ever find yourself in the wrong? I'm sure there are people who answer C, but the idea made me literally laugh out loud.

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