Psyching Out Doomsday

12/20/2012

In the words of the band R.E.M., “It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.” Yes, today is December 21st , which is supposed to be doomsday, depending on who you talk to. Some claim the Mayan calendar ends today, supposedly signifying the apocalypse, and for some reason not just the end of the calendar itself. Many of us may go out on a limb here and say, this really isn’t the end of days, and if it is, no one will be here to say “I told you so.” Doom-gloom-300x400

While some people are genuinely scared and preparing for the end, others feel excited and are planning their wardrobe for their local end of the world party. Where are you on this spectrum? Here are a few words about doomsday from a shrink: We are all looking for a narrative; there is something familiar about a beginning, middle, and an end. Having an ending which we might “predict” is strangely comforting, because perhaps it helps us feel that we are in better control of those mysteries of life and death that are beyond us.

Because we do not have a crystal ball to predict the future, let’s use this potential doomsday as an opportunity, or a “just in case,” depending on your views. What would you do if you had one last day? Try one or more of the following exercises:

 

1. Be mindful of today, live as presently and in the moment as you can.

Exercise Suggestions:

Try savoring every bite of your meals today.

Look around and appreciate the beauty and miracle of ordinary things.

Spend genuine time with family without feeling like there has to be an agenda or some other place to be.

 

2. Try looking at the world like a child.

            Exercise Suggestions:

            Turn off the TV and play an old board game.

            Don’t resist making a mess by playing in sand or using finger paint.

            Try something new and daring, requiring you to be brave.

 

3. Take stock of the power and beauty of nature.

            Exercise Suggestions:

            Look for familiar shapes in the clouds.

            Marvel at the veins in a leaf or the crystals in a snowflake.

            Smell a flower.

 

4. Take risks you would not ordinarily take because of social convention.

            Exercise Suggestions:

            Smile and say “hi” to a stranger on the street.

            Don’t suppress your emotions as much as you usually do.

Sing aloud without caring who hears you.

 

5. Say things you would not ordinarily say.

            Exercise Suggestions:

Tell someone what they mean to you without expectation or an occasion.

Reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a long while but who still means a lot to you.

Apologize to someone who you have wronged.

 

6. Make a list of, “If the World Doesn’t End Today I will…(fill in the blank).” Thinkstock

            Exercise Suggestions:

            Where you would travel?

            What are your life goals?

            What has been holding you back?

 

If tomorrow, December 22nd comes as usual, think back to some of these exercises and remember how you felt about them. Did you enjoy letting go of some of the expected, mundane aspects of life? Think about how you can harness the lessons from these small exercises in everyday life, take life less for granted, and use them to enhance your quality of life.

(And…if tomorrow doesn’t come, Sessions To Go takes on a whole new meaning! Good luck with today!)

 

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Disclaimer: Shrink Wrapped: Sessions To Go ™ is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or supplement assessment and/or treatment by a licensed mental health professional.

Dr. Nicole Joseph © 2012

 


Dr. Nicole Joseph is a licensed clinical psychologist who currently works for The Child and Family Counseling Group. Dr. Joseph has experience counseling individuals, couples, parents and families. She received her undergraduate degree from American University and finished her Masters and Doctorate at the American School of Professional Psychology. For more information about Dr. Joseph, check out her website.


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