FREE PSYCHOTHERAPY THURSDAY: The Payoff of Feeling Bad

Posted: April 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

Yesterday I had a real bout with anxiety.

Might be upcoming travel, might be about the dogs getting older and therefore slower and sorer, might be the extra cup of coffee.

I lectured my addiction class last night about the concept of enabling. I asked the class if they could think of any payoff an enabler would get by enabling the addict in their life.

Someone said “They get to be a victim or a hero.”

It got me thinking.

What’s my payoff for being a worry wort?

I can be a victim and feel sorry for myself.

I can pretend I’m a sensitive soul.

I can enjoy the drama.

I can even pretend it’s what God wants and that I’m looking to be spared his wrath and worry some how qualifies me for that.

Are those payoffs? Yeah, they kinda are. Psychological and dysfunctional but a payoff none the less.

What self defeating things do you do that you secretly get a payoff from?

If you don’t improve in areas in your life is there an underlying payoff to it?

I bet there is.

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Comments
  1. Jen Forbus says:

    Do you actually do those things, Tom? Enjoy the drama? Feel sorry for yourself? Pretend your a sensitive soul?

    I mean if you suffer to get attention, isn’t that Munchausen? Anxiety isn’t something you do on purpose, is it?

    People who are co-dependent make conscious choices to enable their loved ones. They feel an overwhelming need to “help.” They want to feel needed and important and loved and they want to fix things, but they still make the choice to do it.

    I don’t know too many people who choose to feel anxious, and those that do, I don’t think it’s anxiety they’re suffering from.

  2. Ginny says:

    Worry is one of the things I do best. But neither you, Tom, nor I, sit in a corner and worry. We go out and build dog ramps. We buy the food supplements. We make the travel plans that scare us a little. We rally folk to buy jump ropes and hula hoops. We get there into the ring and spar a little….wait a minute…you do that, I don’t!

    Other than that, like Jen says. Except I think von Munchausen by proxy is something else……parents making their kids sick to make themselves feel needed and important.

    So don’t sweat unless you find yourself drooling in a corner and worrying, unable to get up and act. We are not just dreamers, my friend, we are doers!

  3. Vinnie says:

    Here’s a curveball for ya. I regularly, maybe frequently, use negative self-talk to motivate myself. For example, when it came to ‘gym time,’ I used to think of things of the top three or so things that bothered me in my life. It might have been something someone said to me when I was 12 years old, like a “you won’t amount to anything kind of thing,” or just a friendship gone very wrong. I would then replay them before a big lift, and if I failed, that would be the equivalent of failing to that circumstance or losing to the party involved. Most readers might think this sound really unhealthy thus far, but it worked for me. If I succeeded, I somehow ‘won’ or I overcame the obstacle. But, I never overcame it and left it on the gym floor, I used to revisit the same things each time I was in the gym, and play the same song from the same second. It was GREAT stress relief, and I got in good shape, too.

    Now, for the curve part. I don’t just use the negative self-talk for gym scenarios. I might use it for job interviews, for exams, speeches — anything really. I put myself at a conceptual disadvantage so that I work hard to put myself back up to par and then work toward an above average performance. The reality of it is, I’m probably pretty average in most of those scenarios, and thinking “you are going to BOMB this test” is probably not totally accurate, but again, it works. Sometimes, though, I start to doubt whether I can actually accomplish the goal at hand, and then I REALLY give it my all. This is the part where I think it becomes unhealthy. I see confidence as a flaw in these scenarios and doubt as a motivator. Weird, right?

    So, if you catch my sprinting down the street in 20 below weather in thigh-high shorts and a tanktop, chances are I’m imagining myself in a race against the teacher that failed me in course one math. She’s driving a car behind me, bullhorn in hand, shouting “F, F, F!”

    • tjs9261 says:

      Exactly–the dynamics I’m talking about. I think that mentality spills into everyday consciousness where instead of helping me bench the equivalent of a Prius I torment myself unnecessarily.

      The payoff is that underdog feeling that I want to beat.

  4. D.B. Dean says:

    last night i dreamed I lay on the ground exhausted and in pain…i was at work, some of omy coworkers stood around me wondering what to do. Even though I was at work I was some how mostly under water, struggeling to lift my head above the water to breath. No one else was in water…they couldnt see that I was laying in a pool of water. one coworker said – i dont know what to do for her…she is exhausted…i dont know what to do. I was feeling horrible pain in my stomach. I just lay on the ground crying and trying to keep my head above water that no one else could see. I woke up with a horrible pain in my stomach and a migraine.

    talk about anxiety huh!

  5. Vinnie says:

    “The payoff is that underdog feeling that I want to beat.”

    Bingo.

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