Wow, it’s been over a month since I last posted something here. Time flies when you’re
being tortured in therapy. So yeah, after being on the waiting list for 2 months I’ve finally started my therapy! And though it has been rather mentally exhausting, confronting and even physically painful thanks to my body overreacting to stress, it is helping. And I’m even somewhat starting to enjoy the group sessions…Weird, I know. 😉
On top of all I’ve had a massive toothache, which will require me to wear braces for the next 2 years to fix. orz So all in all last month is one I wouldn’t mind forgetting.
Still I’ve more or less managed to keep up with my Japanese studies. I’d already to decided to put them on the back burner last month and only do some reviews and immersion stuff. I took a break from reviewing last weekend, but other than that I’ve been keeping on top of learning vocab and kanji everyday. I also largely managed to complete the immersion increasing challenge I set myself last month. I spent most of the month “reading” Starry Sky in Spring in bed instead of my usual English books. That said I do really miss having a moment to read my English books so I need to find some way to reconfigure this and fit both into my life.
Speaking of reconfiguring my schedule…with only 2 months to go till the JLPT exam I really need to sit down and draw up a study schedule. The mere thought of doing so terrifies me though. I’m dreadfully afraid getting it wrong, missing out something and then failing the test. Of course, not creating a study schedule because I’m too scared to do is more or less guaranteed to make me fail the test. Behold, the self-fulfilling prophecy loop that is my anxiety disorder! Thankfully I’ve now got some tools to help me deal with these fears. One of the most important comes, not from my therapy, but from the book Feeling Good by David D. Burns, M.D. (dr. David Burns? I don’t get American titles). I was recommended this book while on the waiting list by friends and if you have problems similar to mine, I highly recommend you give it a go. My therapy is going to cover pretty much everything in this book, though in a slightly different way and the fact that I’ve already read it only makes my treatment more useful. I’ve got a wee head start on the rest of the class so to speak, but at the same time that means I can use this time to dig even deeper. Plus if you’re like me, you’re a champion at procrastinating and not doing all the exercises you should do as often as you should… Being asked by your therapists if you’ve done your homework twice a week is good way to break through that. Even if it’s somewhat painfully confronting. ^^; But hey, years of avoiding these thoughts is what got me in this mess, so now it’s time to fight back!
So the tool that I’ll be using now is the so-called Triple Column Technique which starts by making 3 columns: automatic thoughts, distortion and rational response. In the first one you write down all your automatic thoughts as these are what upset you. So in this case mine would be “OMG, I’ve never made a study schedule before, I’m going to fuck up and fail the test.” If I dig a little deeper there’s also “Failing the test means I fail as a person.” (Can you tell perfectionism is one of my major pitfalls?)
Now that I’ve identified these nasty thoughts it’s time to label them for what they are: all or nothing thinking and the fortune teller error. After all I’m jumping to conclusions that I’ll fail if I somehow mess up a study schedule and I clearly never allow myself to fail at anything without instantly considering myself a massive loser.
Finally lets put some rational responses up against these thoughts: failing one test doesn’t make me a failure as person, because my worth isn’t determined by how many certificates I have. Even if I mess up the first version of my study schedule I can always correct and improve it as I go along. This is your first time doing something like this, you’re self-studying for a fairly difficult test. The only one who expects you to be perfect at this is YOU. And let’s be real, you’d never demand this level of perfection from someone else.
Writing this out might seem kind of silly and even pointless at first, but it does help me to calm down and focus instead of panicking for hours and ultimately not doing anything. There’s loads more in the book and my therapy. I wouldn’t call the book a replacement for therapy, but it’s certainly an excellent start or even addition if you’re already in therapy.
Now that I’ve calmed down, I realise the best place to start for a study schedule would be to the practice test I bought recently and identify my weak spots. So I’m off to do that and I’ll be back fairly soon to post my new study