self help

Wars of the Mind; How to Effectively Overcome Anxiety Part Four

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

 

Last week we explored the lifestyle changes which serve to reduce anxiety. This week we delve into how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help us to halt thinking traps altogether with just a little practice.

 

Actively Axing Anxiety Through CBT

 

I cannot begin to tell you just how profound an impact CBT has had upon my life and this article would not be complete without my strongly encouraging you to read the free ‘Panic Stations’ CCI InfoPax as featured on my best resources page.

 

Whilst lifestyle choices can certainly lessen anxiety symptoms, if you want to see a vast improvement and learn how to effectively manage and considerably reduce your anxiety I would highly recommend working through this exceptional CBT workbook.

 

Within this workbook I would recommend taking the following modules:

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The truth about forgiveness (and how it sets you free)

 

When I was younger I firmly believed that forgiveness meant accepting poor treatment from others – I had no real notion of what forgiveness really was. Forgiveness means releasing yourself from the poisonous emotions of pride (or the ego), humiliation, shame, hatred and resentment. It means letting go of all the pain and turmoil the other persons behavior has caused you so you are free and at peace.

 

When I first decided to forgive my bullies that had tormented me all those years ago I couldn’t believe all the hurt, pain and hatred I had been carrying around with me all those years.

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Common misconceptions about forgiveness (and why its so important you know them)

As someone who has struggled with forgiveness in the past, one of the main things that held me back and prevented me from finding peace was the misconceptions I had about forgiveness. I truly believed that forgiveness was akin to reconciling and accepting poor behavior.

 

Below are the most harmful misconceptions held about forgiveness:

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Are your anxieties and fears are based on real threats? Here’s how to find out..

When faced with a threat our reptilian brain kicks in and throws us into flight fight or freeze mode. This is an automatic and instinctive response built into us from millennia ago when we had to scavenge for food and fight off lions to survive. The problem today is that this response still exists in us even though we very seldom need it. Don’t get me wrong, if someone is mugged in the street it is a very useful reaction – essential for survival even – but often this fight, flight or freeze response is activated when we perceive a threat, regardless whether one exists or not.

 

For example, if I am at a party and I don’t know anyone, a fight, flight or freeze response isn’t really helpful. Likewise if someone makes a joke and I think it’s about me and jump straight into fight mode, what happens if it comes to light the joke was actually nothing to do with me? What happens when the treat that we perceive isn’t real?

 

Below are some questions to help you assess whether your anxieties and fears are based on real threats or not:

 

  • Is it possible that I have misinterpreted the situation?
  • Is it possible that I have misunderstood what has been said?
  • Is it possible that my perceived threat actually doesn’t exist in this circumstance? (E.g. everyone I don’t know at the party is welcoming and friendly)
  • If there is danger have reasonable precautions been taken to limit it? Do I find these precautions acceptable? Are there any facts that will ease my concern? (E.g. rollercoaster ride safety standards)

 

If there is any chance that your anxieties and fears are not based on real threats then you can try to avoid jumping into fight, flight or freeze mode by rationalizing that your fears are probably exaggerated. You can also limit your anxieties and fears by making a contingency plan for how you would react if your anxieties and fears surfaced. To construct such a plan, aim to answer the questions below but remember not to dwell on the contingency plan as this may feed into your fears, simply make one and then refocus on the task at hand.

 

  • What is the worst that could happen?
  • How could I deal with this if it happens?
  • What could I do that I haven’t done in the past in response to my fears?
  • How can I limit my anxiety if the worst were to happen? (I.e. bring a friend)

 

How do you usually tell if your anxieties and fears are based on real threats? Have you ever thought about it before? What are your anxieties and fears? Will you ask yourself any of the questions above? I’d love to hear from you so please comment below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community.

Feeling guilty? How to use guilt to your advantage!

Like anyone I’ve felt guilty from time to time. Interestingly I have a long standing history of confusing guilt for shame. When researching for this month’s series article on self-compassion I had an aha moment when I realized guilt was very different to shame. Shame by its very nature tells us that we are something wrong – a very destructive way of thinking and not helpful at all – whilst guilt signals that we’ve done something wrong, which incentivizes us to make amends and put the situation right. Guilt can also guide us to make better choices, serving as a barometer towards correcting our behavior in future.

 

To tell the difference between guilt and shame ask yourself the following questions, remembering that it is possible to be both guilty and ashamed.

 

  • Am I labeling myself in my head as a direct result of my behavior? (E.g. I’m a failure, I’m horrible, I’m incompetent)
  • Do I feel like I’m a horrible person as a direct result of my behavior?
  • Do I feel like a failure / incompetent / worthless as a direct result of my behavior?
  • Do I feel fatalistic, as if I will always be this way?

 

  • Do I feel a deep sense that I have behaved in the wrong way?
  • Do I feel as though I have made a mistake?
  • Do I feel as though I have used poor judgment?
  • Do I feel that I want to make amends for my behavior?
  • Do I feel bad for the person my behavior has effected?

 

If you answered yes to any of the top four questions you are likely in a state of shame and need to talk through what happened with a trusted and supportive friend who can reassure you that you are not what you may be labeling yourself to be.

 

As Brene Brown says…

 

“If you put shame in a Petri dish it needs three things to grow exponentially, secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish and you douse it with empathy you create an environment that’s hostile to shame.”

 

If you answered yes to any of the last five questions you are probably experiencing guilt. Although uncomfortable, feeling guilty can be a very good thing because it gives you the opportunity to make amends for and correct your behavior. Think about what you can do to make things right and then act on it, remembering that some people will not be receptive to an apology but that the most important thing by far is that you have done everything you can to say sorry and rectify your behavior so that it isn’t repeated.

 

Have you ever felt guilty and did it serve as a motivator to correct your behavior? Can you relate to feeling ashamed and how destructive an emotion it is? I’d love to hear from you so please comment below to gain encouragement, support and insight from our community.

New ‘Best Resources’ Page Featuring The Webs Most Exceptional Psychology Resources

 

H All,

 

Here at Accessible Psychology I like to make things, well, accessible, so I have taken it upon myself to source the most exceptional psychology resources from all over the web and share them with you in one place, right here on my ‘Best Resources’ page. These resources are highly recommended by all top therapists. How do I know you say? Well, a therapist from none other than The Priory recommended them as the very best!

 

I like to think I have catered for everything so if you would like to become more assertive try the ‘Assert Yourself’ CBT InfoPax by CCI. Feel like you would like to have higher self-esteem? Try ‘Improving Self-Esteem’, also by CCI. Want more happiness? There’s a guidebook from Action for Happiness called ‘Ten Keys To Happier Living’ you can download right here at Accessible Psychology!

 

Should you have a therapist don’t worry there is something on my page for you too. I’ve featured a comprehensive selection of worksheets by Psychology Tools covering all sorts of thought records and diaries – there are even worksheets on anger, forgiveness and sleep. You can save, print and fill out all of the worksheets provided and then share them with your therapist. I’ve also included a fantastic online service by MindQuire where you can record and graph your depression, stress and anxiety levels and share the findings with your therapist.

 

For those of you wishing to integrate more mindfulness into your life, try Headspace – an online site and app with a massive encyclopaedia of meditation courses, all designed to help make meditation accessible, relevant and beneficial to the masses.

 

Please let me know which resources you like best and how they have helped you, I’d absolutely love to hear from you.

 

Enjoy everyone!

 

x X x Jenny Leigh x X x