“Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth). Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.”

Abraham Maslow

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs has been mentioned a couple of times in the therapy sessions I have attended.  I recognised it but found I actually know very little so spent a couple of hours when I couldn’t sleep reading up.  The quote above was at the top of one of the website I used.  It stuck out as I think it links to the Fight or Flight principle.  I recognise this feeling particularly from work related incidents.  Thinking back about particular trauma events it brings the fight or flight feeling back quickly.  Also with current events highlighted in the media the feeling can develop quite quickly without needing to be near any events.  I don’t watch any tv programmes which have a police theme as the same thing happens.

My thought process through all of this has been to confront the problems I am experiencing as this is the only way I am going to get better.  This doesn’t seem to be easy.  Particularly as it is something only I can do.  The help and understanding my wife has given throughout this, allowing me to try different things or putting up with my constant stream of issues definitely  facilitates this.  I didn’t realise it but the process of confronting the problems could be known as Habituation.

 “the diminishing of an innate response to a frequently repeated stimulus”

I think this works when confronting an individual issue.  I used the example of giving a presentation.  To anyone I would expect this to cause levels of anxiety amongst other feelings.  The more it is done the more proficient you would become and these feelings should then diminish slightly.  Presentations (briefings) are something I would frequently perform at work and I found this to be true.  I also used the anxiety feelings to make sure I would be fully prepared.  I actually think this improved how I worked (to a point).  I understood the anxiety should be there.  There were situations where I found this to change.  If asked to provide a presentation (briefing) using work someone else had completed with little time to prepare the Anxiety level would increase significantly.  Logically this all makes sense but the heightened level of Anxiety and lack of preparation time would then create other issues. (I’m feeling it now just thinking about it.  Takes me back to a couple of events at work)  Lack of time to prepare removes the confidence you could have with a piece of work.  It puts doubts in your mind and makes you wonder if someone will pick fault or find holes in the work.  It makes you worry about questions that may be asked.  Unfortunately the excuse that you have not completed the work would not be good enough and understandably. If you are providing information you should know the answers questions.  The heightened anxious feeling also makes learning something new very difficult. The ability to concentrate and hold information reduces and is replaced with worry.

I tried to test the Habituation theory out a couple of days ago.  One of the hottest days of the year so far.  I decided to give the big issues seller and homeless guy in our local town a bottle of water each.  Nothing big I know but the anxiety I felt buying the water then walking up to pass it to them was intense.  Not knowing what to say, wondering what people around will think I’m doing, will people now be watching me.  I think after doing something kind you should really feel a sense of fulfillment.  I probably was being a bit selfish in this respect. On  these occasions it didn’t happen just probably what would be considered a panic attack.  Raised heart rate, fast breathing, sweating, sense of confusion.  I know this was only a small act but it’s positive in so many ways.  I wonder if I keep trying things like this will that fulfillment feeling come

I started writing about Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs because parts of it stuck out significantly.  I have found a number of people questioning the order of the hierarchy but in principle it seems the contents of it are agreed.

Maslow’s first layer is Physiological needs involved Breathing, circulation, temperature, food/fluid, clothing, protection from elements, reproduction and movement.  Although I would say I have completed this level of the game the movement part is interesting.  A feeling I have often had is to get away.  Just move, get out the house, the situation I’m in or even at times the thought to go and live in the middle of nowhere away from a normal life.  For example, when feeling like this an image I get is to be living in a log cabin in the hills (I’m sure to a lot of people this would sound appealing).  

I started this blog due to finding running helpful with the issues I faced.  But in the same respect going for a walk can give the same physiological effect.  I really enjoy long walks with the dog.  Especially in areas I haven’t been before, exploring the countryside.

The next layer is Safety needs.  Personal/Financial Security, Health and Well-being and safety net against accidents/illness and their adverse impacts.  This layer is much more complicated.  I wrote in the last blog how recently felt I (we) had probably the worst month of my life.  Despite the ongoing reasons this month brought a significant amount of financial insecurity.  I have noticed that nearly every idea about how to move away from the issues I am experiencing also come with the first hurdle being finances.  I find this so hard.  It is a very real problem especially as decisions in this respect don’t just affect me.

Personal security is a strange one.  This is something that has developed on me over recent years.  The inability to feel safe and secure in public.  Hyper vigilance forms part of this and I suspect it links in with some sort of Social Anxiety.  I think this will also bring my family into the thought process.  Especially when out in public.  Worry about hypothetical events can restrict so much it causes frustration, depression, anger.

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Level 3 is the Sociocultural part (Social belonging).  This is about relationships, communication with others, support systems, being part of a community and feeling loved.  Interaction with other is definitely something I crave.  More so now that I am at home on my own through the day.  I am trying to work hard at being involved with friends and spend time with family.  Much more than I have for a number of years.  This can be difficult and frustrating at times but the understanding of different people’s needs and wants must outway your own.  When looking at this part I realised it is something I had thought about in the past.  It took me some time to figure out what this was but I eventually found an article describing how social anxiety can exist within and extrovert.  I wouldn’t say I would consider myself a complete extrovert (life and soul of a party) but many of the aspects do ring true.  

“Extroverts are energised when they are around other people.  They crave social connections and are often good conversationalists, friendly and outgoing”

I think there is (was) a bit of me somewhere in that quote.  The article I took this from says – “Extroverts with social anxiety disorder face a unique problem. They become energized by being around people – the very thing that causes them anxiety. When extroverts avoid social connections because of their anxiety, they can feel lethargic and depressed. They need the social connections and at the same time fear them. When extroverts participate in social situations, they can spend their energy looking for disapproval from others rather than enjoying their time. Either way, extroverts worry about being accepted. They worry that others will find fault with them and secretly judge them.”

I would question the social anxiety part of this thought.  Is that the real problem.  Looking back at the part in the second level of the game, Personal Security.  I think this may be closer to the truth.  An extrovert with a Personal security issue.  The personal security is something that has developed.  It has not been something I have always had.  The worries were not there before and I used to be reasonably outgoing. Things that I may find difficult now would never have been a worry.  I expect there is some level of social anxiety but this seems to fit better.

I think it would be easy to guess where I fit in the next part, the Emotional dimension.  This is self esteem needs.  Fear Sadness, loneliness, happiness, accepting self.  I don’t want to write a lot about this as I feel it is probably self explanatory from the other parts/blogs I have written  Something I learnt from reading about it is how the desire to be accepted and valued by others can be fulfilled from a person’s profession or hobby.  I can see how that occurs in the workplace (suppose it depends how you value your job) but hadn’t considered what a hobby could do.  Possibly it is something I do with the running.  Increasing the distance and speed not only gives you an opportunity to see the physical benefit but also helps when comparing to others.  One of the first thing someone would ask when talking about running a particular distance is the time you did it in.  Obviously the faster you can do it the better you feel about it.  It’s the same thoughts in other environments.  I have recently been attending spinning classes and for whatever reason I am always conscious that I want to feel I have rode the furthest, used the hardest settings sweated the most (urgh).  I do think though recently I have got a bit lost in all this and need to remember the real reason I started running.

With that thought in mind I have been looking out the window whilst typing away.  There is a very light drizzle, ideal for a nice jog when it has been so hot. Im off to route out my lycra running shorts and see where I end up.

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