Directors Column

July 2017 

Over the past few months, retirees at the Benefit Borough Meetings have voiced their concern over the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and what it will mean to their current and future health benefits. Concern though, is not a strong enough word. The degree of angst varies from person to person, but the feelings range from fretful to worry to outright terrified!     

Health insurance coverage is key to a person’s well-being and economic stability. It’s scary to think that it might change.  The proposed repeal is a dreadful threat, but only a threat. As of the printing of this document there have been no changes to your health benefits and the ACA is fully intact. The source of fear is not the proposed repeal of ACA, underneath it all, at the core of this feeling of dread is uncertainty about what will happen.

When we find that we have overwhelming thoughts and ruminations about things that did not happen but that we fear might happen, there are things you can do to help yourself:  

First: Understand that our brains are hardwired for a fear response.  The neurotransmitters in our brains told primitive man to run faster than the tiger and faster than guy behind him that was also getting chased by the tiger! Those brain chemicals are still active today and work just as hard, but instead of the tiger, its political rhetoric that gets those juices flowing.  According to CalTech scientists, brain scans show that when faced with a threat, the thought process shifts over from the focused rational frontal lobe of the brain to the limbic system in the brain where the emotions and fear are generated. 

Knowing and understanding this, you can tell your modern brain that you know what it’s up to. You recognize the fight or flight mechanics in play and that the fear and emotion part of brain is trying to take over because it senses a threat. Pay attention to your automatic reactions to thoughts and irrational fears.  Acknowledge when they intensify and remind yourself that it is not based in reality/not on anything that has actually occurred.

Next, make sure your thoughts are your own and you are not filtering the   words, opinions and ideas of others.  If these voices are causing distress, turn the channel, hang up the phone or walk into another room.

Second: Sometimes our mind gets caught in a loop of deep worry.  It’s called catastrophizing. (Think of the word catastrophe.) It’s the way that we view a situation as worse than it is.  There is all sorts of reasons why people worry, but you should know research has shown that approximately 85% of the things that we worry about never happen and of those things that do happen, 80% of people say that they handled it better than they feared. Catastrophizing attacks your emotional security as it does not evaluate or include unknown positive options that may be available.

If you find yourself stuck imaging the worse that would happen, use your overactive imagination to think what would occur in detail then how you would overcome it.  It’s your imagination so you can think anything. Imagine coping, surviving and then thriving. 

Finally, remind yourself that in your grand and precious life, you have survived and dealt with many overwhelming things and can get through this too. In actuality, it is the negative and uncomfortable feelings that you are overcoming and that is all that it is. Hold on to this knowledge and confidence going forward and remember how awesome you are. You got this!   









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Email: retireedivision@cwa1180.org
Mail: CWA Local 1180 Retiree Division
           6 Harrison St.
           New York, NY 10013
Office Location: 97 Hudson St. NY, NY 10013
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