A few weeks ago I was listening to a talk by an ex airforce test pilot and astronaut (sorry I can’t remember the podcast, it was probably the Moth or TED). He was very humble as he told the most spellbinding story about such an amazing career. Admittedly I forgot his name as soon as he uttered it, but it was obvious that he was a great man. A good and wise person.
“Some people are just better” I thought to myself, and “I have to be better”.
But wait. This is the kind of “should, must” thinking that anxiety loves. Putting pressures on ourselves to measure up to unrealistic standards is unhealthy for our mental wellbeing. Not that I couldn’t have been an astronaut … oh who am I kidding. I can’t even see across the road without my contact lenses and I have the reaction time of a piece of granite.
So I adjusted my prep talk to something more constructive. “I have to be a good communicator.” I told myself.
Something I did at first in lockdown, is keep a diary. I used to rate my feelings and thoughts on a scale. Then reassess them with a more analytical, objective view. This kind method is a cornerstone for CBT which teaches you to reassess all your thoughts and feelings. And it helps you keep all your aspirations in their place.
It’s absolutely essential we have hopes and dreams. That is our difference as human beings. But they are there as a ‘North Star’ to guide us. They are not a mandatory for us to have fulfilling lives.
If you want to address this kind of Cognitive Behavioural Therapeutic way of thinking in your day to day life, I strongly recommend the “Catch It” app which is offered by the NHS. Find it here.