CHANGING THE WAY WE THINK

One of the more helpful things we can do to combat PTSD and the resulting depression, is to work on changing the way we think.  Our tendency is to generalize and believe that just because things were bad in one situation before, they’ll be bad in every similar situation.  That’s just not true, but it’s still a difficult habit to overcome.  But changing how we interpret circumstances can help us view them with less anxiety.  Let me give you an example.

This was a pretty hard weekend on me.  On Sunday, I picked up a new computer as my old one was fading fast.  While I was in town, I had my business partner bring several of our dogs to a local pet store where a vet clinic was being held.  The dogs needed their rabies shots and a couple of them needed to be microchipped.

One of the dogs, a 7 month old puppy, panicked at being on a leash and bit the friend who was handling her twice.  They were nasty bites, and he was very forgiving since he recognized she was frightened when she went after him.  I wanted him to go to the hospital and have the bites checked out and get right on some antibiotics.  He didn’t feel that was necessary.  We were able to calm the animal down, get her shots and get her home without further incident.

I brought my new computer home and Monday morning I sat down to set it up.  What fun (NOT!).  I am not computer proficient, so it’s a real chore for me to do anything like this.  The man who sold me the computer told me it would be very easy for me to set up.  Of course, it was anything but.  I tried to install the Microsoft Word program and immediately got an error sign.  Fortunately, a popup window came on saying it was Microsoft Remote Service and they went into my computer to see if they could assist in the set up.  They ended up explaining to me that I’d been hacked and that they could fix the problem….for $1,200 they could do a 1-time fix.  For $1,800 they could fix the problem and prevent further hacks, for $2,200 they could prevent further hacks for 3 years, and, imagine this, for $3,000 they could prevent further hacks for my lifetime.  Well, of course, the red lights in my brain started going off and I explained that this certainly was not going to happen.  They disconnected at that point and I realized that, indeed, I’d been hacked – by them!

It turned out they weren’t Microsoft.  They were hackers trying to get into my computer to ferret out private information.  I had to take both computers to a local computer store so the new one can have all the programs cleared and the old one will have all information filtered out before it is transferred to my new computer.

All of that left me feeling perhaps this wasn’t the best week in my life!  I had to close out my credit and debit cards and it was very disconcerting to think that someone could access my private information that way.  I was feeling pretty sorry for myself until I realized: this could have been MUCH worse!

The dog could have bitten someone who would sue me.  It could have been a much more serious bite than it was.  The computer hackers could have drained my financial accounts before I got into the bank to close them down.  This wasn’t a matter of things going terribly wrong.  It was a matter of things going wrong that could have gone much worse.  I felt much better about the situation once I looked at it in that light.

You may have to work at reframing circumstances in a new light when you first start working on seeing things differently, but it’s worth it.  Had I continued to think about how all my confidential information had been violated, I could have become very paranoid about anything to do with my privacy.  Had I allowed myself to focus on the dog biting my friend and what could have transpired, I could have become frozen with fear.  Neither of those things happened.

Today, I think I’m a pretty lucky person!  Things could have been much worse, and for as bad as they were, I can deal with them.  That alone is worth the effort it took to change my thought process.  With PTSD, we seldom “look on the sunny side.”  But, I have to say, life is much brighter when we do!

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