Trying new things, as part of my coping mechanisms, is one of my favourite pastimes, as long as it doesn’t involve people.
Actually, I’ve recognized that new things with new people in new places is far too much new for me and I can’t handle it.
Two of those three things need to be constant. I’m happy to go to a new restaurant with my best friend because I know my friend and I know how to eat.
The assumption here is that we’re not trying new food.
I will try a new restaurant so long as I can order the same food, some sort of constant, like chicken fingers.
I’m happy to meet a new person at work, because I’m at work doing the same thing I’ve always done.
Two of three is the rule here.
Three is a Magic Number
Wonder why a new job is stressful and can cause major anxiety? It’s a new place, with new people, doing new things.
I’m fairly certain you don’t have to have an anxiety disorder, like me, or suffer from mental illness of any kind to feel the stress of starting a new job.
Normal people struggle with changing all three factors at the same time.
The rest of us have to develop coping mechanisms so that they don’t have a nervous breakdown every single day.
Some struggle when any one thing is new. I’m lucky in that I can handle one of the three being new as long as the other two are the same.
That’s just me. So many others can’t handle anything new because if you change up their day, panic ensues.
For me, I find new places and new people the hardest of the three. When I say I like to try new things, I usually mean at home.
I find new hobbies to do. I make new crafts. I read a new book. I build a new puzzle.
I do not change my home and I do not change my family. Those are constant for me.
I can meet new people in an environment I’m comfortable in: work, the gym, the movie theatre, the library, etc.
The nerves are still there for me, though.
The Places We Have Come to Fear the Most
It’s harder for me to meet a new person at the gym, than it is for me to try a new hobby at home. I can do it. I just recognize that this is more difficult.
My social anxiety, which I will delve deeper into in the future, makes dealing with people, both new and old, a little bit harder.
Previously I wrote about the anxiety I get from going into places. A lot of that is due to this rule of three also.
I don’t struggle when going home because I know everyone who will be on the other side of the door.
I cannot say the same about any other place.
New places are harder than places I have been to before, but all places are hard. Even if I’ve been there a hundred times, there’s still an element of new somewhere.
How to cope?
When you’re changing one of the three factors, nouns really: person, place, or thing; I try to stay grounded in the other two.
Mentally, I tell this new aspect that I have an advantage because the other two factors and I have been doing this for quite some time.
It might seem silly but it works.
“Sorry, Mr. New Restaurant, you don’t scare me. Both me and my friend have been eating for a really long time. We’ve done this before.”
I am still scared, if I’m being honest. I just tell myself that I’m not. I tell myself I can do this. Eventually those nerves go away.
When you’re changing two of the three nouns?
This is harder.
Looking for Constants
I’m trying to think of an example where you’d change only two, but the third remains the same. Odd, I can’t think of anything. It’s usually one or three.
Maybe if I go to work today, they tell me I have to sit somewhere different. I do the same job, but now I’m sitting at a new desk with new people.
This is unlikely to happen to anyone else, but surprisingly, it happens to me often.
I don’t cope very well with this. The desk changes are killing me.
I need to know where I’m going to sit before I even leave my house in the morning because as you know, it’s hard enough just getting inside the building.
This is where the rule of three applies. For my personal comfort, I need two of three to be the same, and this hasn’t been happening at work.
I can’t give coping mechanisms for changing two or three because, let’s be honest, I don’t cope. I survive though.
If you’re having trouble coping because there is too much new, that’s ok. We’re in this together.
Know that when you get home, you can have a cup of tea, you can pour a nice long bath, and you can relax in your happy place of ‘constant’.
What I want ‘normal’ people to know is that we’re always aware of our nouns. We’re always thinking of our people, places, and things.
We’re always looking for our constants.
For those of you who think, “You think too much,” well, yes. Yes we do. We know this. That’s not going to change.
We deal with our lives the best we can. Not thinking about it is not an option.
Be aware. Be kind. You might just be the only constant that someone has today.
Note: I’ve just released a free ebook, “My Top 10 Coping Mechanisms for Down Days” – you can download it now by clicking here.