Sunday, May 13, 2012

Zooming Out: Putting Anxiety and Phobias Into Perspective

Kathy Bates played Jane Stern in "Ambulance Girl."
Since this is the second entry I've written about a Lifetime movie, I've decided to add a new category for them.  Is it silly of me to write about them once in awhile?  Maybe.  But I don't mind sharing it; if I find truth in something, even something as simple as a movie on TV, I like to think about it and share it with all of you.

The movie that I was re-watching was called Ambulance Girl; it starred the amazingly talented Kathy Bates as Jane Stern, a middle-aged, married writer who had been fighting a lifelong battle with anxiety and various phobias.  Jane was afraid of so many things, not the least of which was flying and long car rides.  Her husband, Michael (played by Robin Thomas) was a recovering alcoholic who was also finding his way as a newly sober person.  As her phobias and insecurities began getting worse, Jane made the decision to become an EMT.  You'd think that was a nutty thing for someone who was so deeply stricken with anxiety to do, right?  The idea was that it would help her find a way out of her own mind and focus on other issues.  As an EMT, Jane met new people and learned a lot, including how to deal with her own anxieties.  (I don't want to ruin the plot for anyone who hasn't seen it, so I'll just leave it there.)

I loved this idea.  Sometimes, we're all guilty of becoming obsessed with certain thoughts of principles in our own heads.  It doesn't mean that they aren't meaningful to us, or worthy of some reflection time.  However, when we obsess or fixate on things which may potentially make us unhappy or stressed, we are ignoring the world around us.  We also forget about what is meaningful to those around us -- what makes them happy, afraid, or worried -- and whether we can work with them on those issues.  By taking a step back from our own problems, whether concrete issues or just worries about things that may happen, we are taking control of our own lives.  Zooming out gives us the power to decide if we want our fears to control us, or if we wish to take control of them.  By zooming out, we can also see more of what's going on around us and can therefore get a better sense of perspective.  What results from this is an ability to make better choices and to choose actions which make our lives more positive and fulfilling.

If you're worried about living inside your own head too much, or afraid that you may be obsessing about something that's holding you back, try to replace those feelings with something new.  Try volunteering, or even just helping someone close to you.  Learn more about your anxiety and try to figure out ways to make it less a part of your life.  By zooming out and looking at the big picture in its entirety, you will be doing yourself a great service.  Take control and live the life that you deserve by giving yourself the gift of perspective.

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