Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Daily Postmortem of Social Interactions

When I worked in the software industry, after every release we would sit down and have what we called a "post mortem." This is where we would talk about everything that went well in the release, everything that needed improvement, and what we would no longer do anymore. Seems like a good idea.

I seem to have my own daily post mortem. I can't avoid it. After every phone call, text message, face to face encounter, or facebook post, I find myself reliving everything I said and did. I can't stop thinking and worrying, "I hope that comment didn't offend them." or "Why did I say/do that? That was really stupid." Do you ever find yourself doing that? Is it more often than you feel is normal? I seem to do it every day and I am noticing that I am really lacking self confidence to spend so much time worrying about offending others or not coming off as best as I could have. Its to the point where I feel like everyone must really hate me. Sigh.

There are so many layers to anxiety its like an onion. You can pull away the daily panic attacks or generalized anxiety and you still have so many underlying issues to deal with. Will I ever be okay with who I am right now? 

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30 comments:

Todd said...

I so understand what you mean. I have found myself doing the same thing on occasion, not just minutes later but hours later and occasionally even the next day.

It's an exercise in frustration that just serves to drain our energy.

Have you found particular tricks to help distract yourself?

Patrick said...

Agree with you both. In my endless search for information on how to improve my anxiety, and the anxious thoughts that provoke it, I stumbled across a good book.

It's called Quiet Your Mind by John Selby. I purchased it for about $10. It teaches many of the mind-quieting techniques that I have found to help. I know when I shower is one of those times I'm recounting everything that I did and mistakes I've made so I use some of the things he talked about in the book. It has helped a lot with my racing thoughts.

It's worth the $10, or it is probably also at your local library.

chen said...

Aimee - I find that I have to 'just do it' . . . it gets easier after a few times out. I work at home and am able to avoid meetings, etc, but had one the other day with some really smart women who made me second-guess everything I said and did - and made me want to quit what I do and never go back. I know, however, that it was just anxiety. And the more I go back the stronger and more confident I will be. I think it's just practice.


Mommy world is different than the rest of the world and you just need to extract yourself from one - then practice being in the other by DOING IT. It will be okay.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean Aimee. It's like i spend all of my time second guessing myself, overthinking EVERYTHING, overthinking myself overthinking, it's awful....if i could just 'get out of my own way', life would be lovely again. I'm working on it though. SN:If i could get a dollar for everytime i hit the backspace button in this comment to you, i'd be good to go! :-) Have a great day!

ashley said...

I do that all the time too!!! I thought it was just me! ;)

Bessie said...

In that case, you may well consider yourself lucky in having me with the group. :) Anyway, I think thinking about and reflecting about things that happened during the end of the day is still positive on the one side because you get to see what needs changing and if improvements have to be made. On the one side, thinking may be frustrating and a real mind-blogging activity to do.

April said...

I do this all of the time and really hate it. I have this horrible guilty feeling inside and I keep thinking about whatever I did or said. I worry about it non-stop until something else distracts me. Glad I'm not the only one!!!

Anxiety Relief said...

Well said, I totally agree with you in this regard.

Kelly said...

Guilty! I worry about how people perceive me all of the time. Did I say something wrong or in a tone...were my facial expressions saying too much...do I seem confident at work...ugh...it's tiring. I want to be the kind of person who just doesn't care what others think, but I do and I dwell on stupid things I did or said years ago...I'm going to look back when I'm 60 and think: "what a waste of time and energy.."

Hannah said...

Hey great blog! I too suffer from anxiety and I've started a blog about my journey to overcome it. If you have time you should check it out:

www.kickasssuperlady.blogspot.com

Thanks and keep spreading the word that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of :)

Memory Enhancer said...

Well written blog, I agree with you on what you want to say in this article. Keep safe!

Sara said...

Just wanted to say I had the greatest time talking with you and getting to know you last night. You are an amazing person and I feel lucky to know you! (And I do the same thing every time I leave any type of social gathering or the likes...)

vin said...

Hi Aimee,

The good news is that in life, there is never a never and never a always. So yes, I do believe that everyone has the potential to get better.

Sounds like you are a perfectionist.

When I overreact to something, I always step back and reflect and ask myself, hey why do I react like this?

First I look at the trigger and then my reaction to the trigger and ask myself the question "what is the belief" that leads me to this reaction.

For example, why do I feel nervous about offending people?

What is the belief that I have that leads to this reaction...

If I feel that Iam better than everyone, would I have this reaction?????? Probably not...

If I feel that Iam good enough not because Iam perfect but because Iam aware of my mistakes and that every mistake will make me grow as a person and that growth is more important than achievement, then will I still react this way? Probably not....

Once you know your belief, then you have the opportunity to reprogram it and then that is when the reacts and the constant worrying about offending people will subside....

Food for thought

Vin

pHealth said...

Hi Aimee,

Have you come across mindfulness and ACT?

Hope it helps.....


Dr Vin
www.doyouhavedepression.blogspot.com

Ed Fox said...

So real Aimee,
I was in the programming world for many years and realized that part of the problem was that I interpreted the stress and panic of releases and de-bugging was MINE.

When I later got involved in Stress Work I learned that within my belief system I was afraid of something... when I found and release it I was free no matter what the chaos was around me.

Ed Fox
Workstress Coaches

Kelly Martin said...

Hi there, came across your blog when looking up resources of support on anxiety. It is good to know other people have a mind like mine. It is getting better though. I used to obsess about how I looked in other peoples eyes and still do to some extent but I am learning to retrain my thinking that what other people think of me is none of my business. Its a really gradual process. Instead of fighting against the panic to let the panic be and to not try and fix it or make myself feel better. I guess the resistance to it makes it hundred times worse in my experience. I also came across an excellent support online just yesterday called anxietynomore this is his link:
http://www.anxietynomore.co.uk/ He has been there bought the t-shirt as far as I can see and is very inspiring.
I have started to be with my feelings without fighting them and slowing things down. I am still reading his blog but it has really supported me. Its great you are sharing so much on your blog. I will have a good look around.

Many Blessings
Kelly x

Anonymous said...

Great blog post! Keep it up!

Tai Zejan
Overcoming Anxiety Attacks

Dr Vin Family Doctor Australia said...

Hi All,

Anxiety or "unhealty stress" is actually a normal response to danger. It is a fight or flight response. It is easy to understand that when you see a bear, you either to fight it or you run away. I can tell you without shame that I will be running away.

That is why whenever people get stressed, they either get angry and they "fight", or they withdraw and they "flight". Can you relate to this?

Now, let me make it clear that this response is NORMAL.

When people have an anxiety "disorder" or a panic "disorder", this response is triggered by events that is not what we would normally rate as "dangerous". So in a way, the response is a FALSE ALARM. It is like having a security system that goes off whenever an insect crawls across the sensor. In essence, the response is normal but the sensor's sensitivity is malfunctioning and needs to be RESET.

In order to reset this, one needs to be aware and then learn how to use the conscious brain in order to reprogram the subconscious brain. You can learn to do this through Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Acceptance Commitment Therapy. Medications can by an adjunct but certainly is not the complete answer.

Hope this will help.

Dr Vin Family Doctor Australia
MBBS FRACGP

Katie @ peacebeme said...

I know you havent posted for quite some time, but I came upon your blog yesterday and want you to know how amazingly helpful it is! I cannot believe how similar our stories are in regards to weight loss due to anxiety and always feeling uncomfortable about skinny comments as I was already skinny in the first place. Your morning anxiety posts have been helpful as well. Hope you are still blogging so I can follow more!

Anonymous said...

Yes I do this about everything. I deactivated my fb account and now I am obsessing that I shouldn't have done that.

Jill said...

I tend to go over my interactions too, but especially when I feel vulnerable. When my self esteem is in check I don't do it nearly as much. If I find myself doing a post-mortem as you call it and it is super self critical, I do a lot of erasing and replacing. For ex, if I flubbed my words with an acquaintance and feel bad and the thought is "Dang it, why am I such a loser?" I erase that and replace it with "Ok so I was nervous. I'm human. It's no big deal. I'm a good person and she probably didn't notice anyways."

anxiousinmanila said...

Hi from Manila! First time I came across your blog and this post really resonates with me. It seems I've been doing "post-mortem" all my life, not realizing this was hidden anxiety. Three years ago I was diagnosed with panic disorder and was really caught by surprise as I have been very independent and feeling very much in control all my life (or so I thought). Thanks for sharing, there is comfort in knowing I'm not alone and that people can change and improve. God bless.

Anonymous said...

I just read this... late. I DO THIS ALL THE TIME!!!!!!! I guess that's part of GAD. I am sorry, but glad, to hear i am not alone.

thank you and i hope you are doing well.

overcoming panic attacks said...

"There are so many layers to anxiety its like an onion." You got this one right and I feel you. I also feel the same way sometimes and I felt a little guilty.

Foreign Pharmacies said...

The panic attacks and the chronic anxiety disorders are very common in today’s world affecting not only aged people but even the youth so xanax bars have become a common house hold. The above statement is being proved by the statistics of the National Institute of Mental Health which showed that there are 19.1 million people who are suffering from anxiety and panic disorders and it is to be noted that they are in the age group 18 and 54 years.

Sannah said...

Me too! It seems there are a lot of us! I just posted a comment on your most recent entry about how I have been coping better with my anxiety for ages now, but everything you have described in this post I absolutely do! Mindfulness really helped me with the anxiety, but I think I need to do it more to try and stop myself from being so self-critical, and worrying about the judgement of others. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

The Blue Morpho said...

This post is the perfect description of that social anxiety litany we all tread through over and over. It is validating to see it written out. Now if only I can move from knowledge to the cure part of the process :)
Adventures in Anxiety Land

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for being so open and honest about your anxiety. It's such a relief to know someone out there feels exactly like I do, as frustrating as it is :( I appreciate your blog!!!
-Aimee Garber

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness! I do this too! Lately, it seems my "post mortems" have been getting worse. So, thank you for this post - it's hit the nail on the head and I feel less anxious as a result.

Of course... I'm going to fret about this comment. I wish it was more concise and witty but I'm going to have to let that one go! LOL.

Anonymous said...

i'm the same. it happened to me today from performing a presentation to my class. it just hit me BAM. i couldn't breathe or see straight. everyone noticed. it was humiliating. ive been re-living the event all day & now i just want to quit uni & never see any of my class mates/ tutor again.

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