Having a Fire Extinguisher Ready

Hopefully, you don't wait for a fire to start before you make a plan for dealing with it. Fire drills save lives, as do rehearsals of how you'll deal with relapse. Approaching the potential of relapse as you would the potential for fire can save you a lot of grief and prevent relapse.

Worksheet 17-2 lays out the early warning signs you should look out for. In Worksheet 17-3, we list a few of the common events that trigger emotional distress. Read through the list, thinking about which events you fear may cause you trouble at some point in the future. For each item, jot down the specifics of your concern. (At the end of the list, add any likely future events that you worry about encountering.)

Worksheet 17-3 Fuel for Emotional Fires Questionnaire

1. Loss of someone important to me

2. Getting rejected

3. Getting sick or hurt

4. Money problems

238 Part VI: Looking Beyond Anxiety and Depression

5. Major political changes

6. Humiliation, shame, or embarrassment

7. My additional concerns kpu

So, are we trying to get you to worry about all the bad things that may happen to you? What about our advice in Chapter 8 about the value of staying centered in the present? Well, you raise a good point! Staying in the present is a good idea, but so is being reasonably prepared for the future.

In order to be prepared, we suggest the Fire Drill Strategy. Take each event that you list as worrisome in Worksheet 17-3 and figure out how you would cope if that event occurred. First, review this example of the Fire Drill Strategy.

David recovered from a combination of anxiety and depression about two months ago. He's preparing to stop seeing his professional counselor from the past six months. Before ending their sessions, David's therapist suggests that David prepare for possible fire, or the flare-up of one of his fears. The therapist has David fill out the Fire Drill Strategy (see Worksheet 17-4) on one of David's worries. David's father and uncle both died of colon cancer in their 50s, and David's now 51, so the fear of developing colon cancer is very real for him.

Worksheet 17-4_David's Fire Drill Strategy_

Situation: Fear of colon cancer

1. How would someone else cope with this situation?

I can't deny that it would be incredibly tough. However; my father used the last years of his life to get his affairs in order and spend time with his family He also was very helpful to many people in his cancer support group. I could do that. I remember my uncle was very angry and seemed to suffer a lot more. I'd rather be like my father

2. Have I dealt with something like this in the past? How did I do it?

When I was in college I came down with meningitis. I was really sick, and everyone was very worried. I don't remember being terrified, though. I think I could use the same acceptance I had then.

3. How much will this event affect my life a year after it occurs?

Actually, given that I get regular screenings, the odds are pretty good that it won't be affecting me much a year after diagnosis. I just may be catastrophiz-ing about this issue.

4. Is this event as awful as I'm making it out to be?

Obviously not. There have been so many advances both in terms of catching it early as well as treatment that I think I'd be okay. As for the slim chance that I'd die, I guess I could deal with that, too. I'd have to.

5. Are there any intriguing, creative ways of dealing with this challenge?

I've been meaning to participate in the cancer walk-a-thon. Maybe I'll get off my behind (so to speak) and just do it. If I do get diagnosed, I'll join the support group like my Dad did. He seemed to really benefit and help others at the same time.

After completing this exercise, David realizes that he can cope with even his worst fears. Seeing the benefit of the exercise, he also fills out a Fire Drill Strategy on several other problems that he may encounter down the road.

Using Worksheet 17-5, complete your own Fire Drill Strategy. Simply list your specific fear at the top and answer the questions that follow. Fill out a questionnaire for each problematic concern you identified in the Fuel for Emotional Fires Questionnaire (see Worksheet 17-3).

Worksheet 17-5 My Fire Drill Strategy

Situation: _

1. How would someone else cope with this situation?

2. Have I dealt with something like this in the past? How did I do it?

3. How much will this event affect my life a year after it occurs?

4. Is this event as awful as I'm making it out to be?

5. Are there any intriguing, creative ways of dealing with this challenge?

Visit www.dummies.com/go/adwbfd to download as many copies of this form as you need for your personal use.

How did you feel before you filled out your Fire Drill Strategy? Did answering the questions reveal anything about your fear? Take a few moments to reflect on what you've learned about preparing for future difficulties, and record your thoughts in Worksheet 17-6.

Worksheet 17-6 My Reflections

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