My therapist approached this particular conversation by trying to get me to think about the positives in this particular social event. On a slight digression, he spent quite some time trying to persuade me that one possible positive was that I might meet a potential partner, and we almost ended up having an argument as I tried to persuade him that potential partners at that sort of social event are rarer than unicorn poo, and that even if you do, by unlikely happenchance, find yourself sitting next to someone who is pleasant, the rightish age and sex, with a similar outlook AND is fanciable and who hasn’t turned up trailing a significant other, a combination of factors which on any accurate assessment has odds in its favour roughly similar to those of winning one of those charity lotteries that constantly drop through the front door, you will inevitably find, twenty minutes into the conversation, that his partner/wife/husband is either away that weekend visiting her/his parents or else due to arrive in five minutes. Yes, meeting a partner down the pub is theoretically possible. But going to things because you might meet a partner is no foundation for a social life. But, as I say, I digress….
So… My therapist continued trying to find the positives. Could I anticipate enjoying myself? Could I envisage having a pleasant time with pleasant people so that I could look forward to the event and see it as a beneficial addition to my social calendar rather than as taking something away from me? Again, we had a somewhat gnarly conversation about this. Part of the problem is that, for all its undoubted benefits, positive thinking isn’t quite the panacea it’s been made out to be, and can sometimes make things worse by leading people to deny problems that need to be faced and dealt with in favour of “putting on a happy face”. (On this topic, this article by Oliver Burkeman is well worth a read, as is his excellent book, The Antidote: Happiness for People who can’t stand Positive Thinking).