Updated: Sep 28, 2019
~ when your inside doesn't match your outside. -V.B.Chase
What I have learned going through it is that it’s not who you are, it is something that just happens. Anxiety is different for each person and can be triggered by different things. That being said it’s helpful to track your mood, the cause and behaviour. Also, what helped you get out of that anxious state.
Because that’s what Anxiety is, a state that will pass. -V.B.Chase
Anxiety is defined as a feeling of apprehension and fear, characterized by physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, and feelings of stress. Which can be uncomfortable and unpleasant to be in. Being silent with anxiety leads to shame, as shame thrives in silence, judgment, fear, and can cause a spiral effect. Let’s not go into a spiral or down this rabbit hole anymore. Let’s talk about it, let’s burst out of shame into awareness and resilience.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) has been proven time and time again to help with anxiety and depression. For this topic, I am only going to talk about anxiety, but this can also help with depression. CBT basically means that your thoughts affect your feelings which in turn affects your behaviour. Everything affects everything else. Let’s see this in a chart.
Mind you this chart is very basic but it also gets the point across. Based on our own personal unique perception on reality through our conditioned lenses of beliefs, this is where our mind plays with us and creates thoughts based on past experiences, your environment, memory, etc..
Hopefully that simplifies it a bit. Here is an example of CBT. A friend I know passes me, I say “hi” with a smile on my face. They don’t reply and do not even look at me but walk right passed. I think “What’s up with her? Does she hate me? Is she ignoring me?” which leads me to feel sensations of heart racing, butterflies in the stomach and heaviness. My smile turns upside down and I start to walk faster, which leads to my behaviour, walking faster and not wanting to reach out to her, leading to sadness and curling up into a ball on my couch crying. Okay that last part might be a slight exaggeration but sometimes this happens. Something that simple thing can lead to maladaptive thinking and spiral down we go. If we didn’t have this maladaptive thinking (unwanted/ unpleasant thoughts) the story might go a little different.
1- All or nothing: Black or white thinking, no gray.
(Ex. “I have to get A’s or why bother”, another would be a perfectionist.)
2- Jumping to conclusions: Fortune telling or mind-reading.
3- Mental filter and Comparisons: Only seeing certain evidence. Through own lenses. Tunnel vision.
(ex. Noticing only failures and not seeing successes. Control. Never good enough. Comparing self to others)
4- Disqualifying the positives: Discounting the good.
(ex. Things in life= staying Victim)
5- Overgeneralizing: To extreme.
(Ex. “Everything always goes wrong” or “Nothing good ever happens”)
6- Should/ must: Using ‘should’, ‘must, ‘ought’: Guilt.
(ex. “I should have read those books” or “I must go to that event”.
7- Personalization: Blaming self, if not fully yours or blaming others for your faults.
(ex. “This is all my fault” or “This is all your fault”)
8- Emotional Reasoning: We feel a certain way, so it must be true.
(ex. “I feel like an idiot, so I really must be one.” Or “I feel incompetent/ lazy, therefore I must be.”)
9- Labelling: Assigning labels, to self or other. Could come across as judgmental.
(ex. “I’m such a loser” or “I am stupid” or “that person looks mean.”)
10- Magnification and Minimization: Blowing things up or making them to tiny/small.
(ex. “I could have died if they didn’t sell me that sweater at discount” or “It’s ok, he just going through something, he won’t cheat again, there’s nothing to talk about.”)
Lots of people, almost all, do one or more of these on a day by day basis. This is for awareness of what you are doing in order for you to help change certain unwanted thinking patterns.
“Is the story we are telling ourselves true?”- Brene Brown
Resistance persists, relax, allow, release. Sometimes I get asked what the difference between stress and anxiety are when in reality they are very similar. The difference between them is that stress is a response to a threat in a situation. Anxiety is a reaction to the stress.
“Is it solvable or can I relax and let it pass?” – Michael Singer
Meanwhile, the difference between anxiety and depression is that anxiety is a fear-based response to a future outcome, while depression is a response of ‘knowing’ or believing the future outcome is bad and a loss of interest in life. All while one can co-side with the other.
Let’s go back to the story when passing a friend, but this time let’s be curious. I say “hi” to a friend, while smiling as she passes. She doesn’t respond, she doesn’t say hi and doesn’t look up, nor smiles. I think “ummmm I wonder if she heard me, or if she’s focused on something internally? I wonder if she’s ok?”. Can you see where this is going? Let’s finish the CBT train. I then feel concerned about her and through a text out there saying “I hope all is well. Saw you on the street today and thought I’d see how your doing?” see the difference now? My feeling of concern rather then having my friend’s non-responsiveness create a maladaptive reactive state in my meta-cognition, I lead with curiosity rather than assumptions. Then my behaviour followed. How did this situation sound, better?
Let’s look at some tips to help your processing:
Identify and examine: Identify distortion, the anxiety that was triggered, track your progress. As well as how you are improving or overcoming anxiety.
Examine the evidence: Perspective. Is it true? Will it matter in a minute, in seconds, a day, a week, a month? Is it an assumption and can you check it out? Is it an old pattern and things have changed?
Write down a list of what helps you get through an anxious situation. Constantly refer back to this list, as being in an anxious state we tend to focus only on that, and having something to refer to helps and can ease it.
Remind yourself of when you weren’t anxious and how that felt. To give hope.
The survey Method: Ask others if your thoughts and behaviours are true with others by asking. This could ease you to know your not alone, as well as ask for tips they used is they had anxiety.
The Double standard: talk to self compassionately, like a friend. Know when to push yourself through it and when to comfort yourself or ask for help.
Be honest about your own feelings. Write about it or talk to someone you trust, do not let it build up inside. This can sometimes get you to go down a rabbit hole, if you don’t speak of it and let it fester inside.
The Semantic Method: Use different language that is less emotionally loaded, this takes practice. Instead of: “I should have read that book” replace with “It might be nice if I read that book” or “I shouldn’t have done that” replace with “It might be better if I hadn’t done that, but now I know”.
Analysis: List advantages and Disadvantages or feeling, negative thought, or behaviour pattern.
Think in Grey: instead of all-or-nothing, think about the in-between. This will help your brain learn and experience rather then see a “failure” as a complete failure.
Build hope and grow confidence in your life.
Yes, this is something that takes time, its an on-going process and practice, practice, practice. It takes time to re-programme, by re-wiring your brain into an outcome you want. Instead of what has been conditioned into you from day one.
“Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.” ~Deepak Chopra
Easy for me to say, hard to incorporate. Are you sick and tired of the downward spiral, then maybe it’s time to invest in you!
Health for health.
Love more, Fear less.
“The Feeling Good handbook” by David D. burns, M.D. 1989.
Google: Stress and Anxiety
Medical daily: Article
“Anxiety Unf** yourself” by Gary John Bishop
Medicine Net: definition