That first prick of nerves

When my partner first tells me he has plans to see someone else, I always feel an instant prick of nerves and anxiety. It’s not exactly jealousy, at least not yet; it’s a scared feeling. That is when it’s important to slow down and unpack my feelings. First I try to talk to myself and ask why I’m scared. Do I think Mike is really going to leave me for this person? Do I feel inferior to her? Is there something else going on in my life making me feel clingy? Anything else? Usually what I realize is that I’m afraid of my own feelings. I dread feeling jealous. The solution to this, obviously, is to not be jealous. That’s easier said than done, but knowing that I’m afraid of something internal instead of external is very comforting.

To some extent, I can simply tell myself “you’ll deal with that when it comes. No point in working yourself up before the day it happens.” Then, on the day of, I can always remind myself “you’ve known about this for days and been fine. What’s the big deal now?” My therapist taught me that way of tricking myself and it is pretty useful.

Of course, it doesn’t fix everything. But that’s when I make a plan. I remind myself of my in case of emergency note. I make plans with friends or to do something I’ve been putting off. I tell myself what I will do to distract myself and what I will tell myself if I’m upset and how I will calm myself down. If I’m really nervous or want to be really prepared, I will even write it down. Once I have a plan in place, it’s easier to put it out of my mind until it happens, and when it does happen I am more prepared.

This doesn’t solve all my problems, but it’s a good way to avoid working myself up and making things worse for myself.

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