During my appointment last week, we spoke about my triggers and I was given a sheet of paper to be able to record them. On this sheet, was a table with the following headings:
Trigger – What has caused the low/anxious feeling
Feelings – What am I feeling? Anxious? Low? Scale it from 0 – 100.
Unhelpful thoughts/images – What negative thoughts/images am I now experiencing?
Facts that support these thoughts/feelings – What tangible evidence do I have to prove my negative thoughts/images are justified. What could I prove in a court of law?
Facts against the thoughts and feelings – Same as above
A more realistic perspective – Given all the facts, how do I feel about the situation now?
Outcome – How do I think I would rate myself should I be in that situation again.
I was asked to only fill in the first three columns, and then we would fill in the remaining in our session today. In this last week I have had 3 very anxious moments, one that left me feeling like I wanted to run home. I will give one as an example:
Trigger – I was being laughed at for something I said, and for what someone in turn then said to me. This made me the centre of attention and I was humiliated.
Feelings – My anxiety shot through the roof, I felt my face burning, my throat was tightening up. Totally wanted the world to swallow me whole. Nearly felt myself about to cry. I would rate this 90/100
Unhelpful thoughts/images – The more everyone laughed, the more I felt ridiculed. I started to think that they were continuing to laugh and make it a big deal because they mustn’t like me. Being in a situation like that is very reminiscent of when I was bullied at school. Naturally these thoughts became truth, and within about 30 seconds flat I’d convinced myself they all hated me.
Facts that support these thoughts/feelings – Everyone was laughing at something I had done.
Facts against the thoughts and feelings – After everyone had stopped laughing, no-one even cared about the situation any more. Life carried on. The world didn’t implode. I’m still here to tell you my tale. Everyone was still talking to me and being as nice as they had always been.
A more realistic perspective – Even though they were laughing at something I had said, or more to the point, what someone had said to me. They don’t hate me. It was only them having a laugh. A bit of banter. Some of them sat with me at lunch, we chatted about everything & anything, showing me they clearly don’t have an issue.
Outcome – Well this appointment, and discussion couldn’t have been better timed. Why? Well I’ve had an even worse experience happen today. This time in front of the whole company, I was outed for something even more ridiculous (I’m not even about to explain, just know it was stupid). I was mortified. I felt my heart racing, my face was so red I swear you could have seen it from space, my mouth dried up like Gandhi’s sandal, my vision went blurry. I was being goaded to get up and collect my ‘prize’. So I took a moment, thought about this very simple thought process, and I took the time to realise they were just having a laugh. They don’t hate me. I’m not being mocked, or bullied, it’s just a laugh. This allowed me to laugh with them. I would rate this experience 60/100
Had I not had my appointment this morning, I’m not sure how I would have coped with this situation. I actually think I may have cried. Or my sphincter (just wanted an excuse to say it) would have given out. In stead of overthinking this situation all the way home, and telling myself the world hates me and I’m such an idiot, I was able to laugh with them.
I have been asked to continue with this thought process for the next week, then we’re going to work on me being able to block out the negative thoughts. Say what now? I’m so excited at that prospect. I have been told that there is a way to be aware of the negative thoughts, but, to not give them any time. No more overthinking? No more negative spirals? I could honestly burst at the prospect!
If you’re like me, and have negative thoughts and find yourself in anxious situations, please try this thought process. Such a simple technique, but very clearly effective.