“It’s been a while…” *cue Staind*
I haven’t been up to much. I’m currently figuring out the next phase of life as far as “career” or whatever. I have something that I’m pursuing, but that shall remain under wraps until I can see if I can pull it off. I can say that I think it’ll be in the health field.
I don’t go back to the therapist until August. I was supposed to go back at the end of July, but she had to reschedule my appointment. So it’ll be awhile before another therapy post appears. But I was sitting here, kinda having some anxious thoughts and I thought, “Why don’t I work it out by using my ABCs!” And then I thought, why don’t I write it out and you can see how I use my tools to alleviate anxiety. Also, maybe this can help any of you dealing with something that’s bringing you worry/anxiety.
I’ve talked about this tool in a previous post. I think I linked to something online, but I’ll write it all out below in case you never went to the link:
Activating Event – This is the event(s) causing stress/worry/anxiety.
Belief/thought – These are the thoughts that accompany the event.
emotional and behavioral Consequence – These are the emotions that have resulted from the Activating Event and Beliefs.
Dispute with Evidence – Here, you dispute the thoughts with rational, healthy thinking.
Now, that we have the ABCDs, let’s work out my issue:
Activating Event: In-laws are coming to visit this summer!
Belief/thought – I don’t know what to do to entertain them! They’ll be bored. I don’t know what to talk about with them. We have a small living space and it’ll feel awkward and cramped. Overall, I don’t feel prepared.
emotion/behavior Consequence – very, very anxious/nervous
Dispute with Evidence – To dispute my situation, I’ll ask myself several the questions that were prescribed in my ABCD worksheet. Note: Not all questions will apply to every situation. On the worksheet, beneath each question below, there are several more questions to help facilitate rational thinking.
- What is the evidence?
- What alternative views are there?
- How much does thinking this way cost me?
- Is my thinking realistic?
- What action can I take?
I’m going to answer only two main questions and below them are the additional questions from the worksheet to help dispute my evidence:
What is the evidence?
- What evidence do I have to support my thoughts?
Is my thinking realistic?
- Am I thinking in all-or-nothing terms?
- Am I condemning myself as a total person on the basis of a single event?
- Am I concentrating on my weaknesses and forgetting my strengths?
- Am I blaming myself for something that is not my fault?
- Am I taking something personally which little or nothing to do with me?
- Am I expecting myself to be perfect?
- Am I using a double standard – how would I view my best friend in this situation?
- Am I paying attention only to the bad side of things?
- Am I overestimating the chances of disaster?
- Am I exaggerating the importance of events?
- Am I doing ‘should must and ought’ instead of accepting and dealing with situations as they are?
- Am I assuming I can do nothing to change my situation?
- Am I predicting the future negatively instead of experimenting with it, even being excited by it?
What’s the evidence? I don’t have any evidence to support any of my thoughts! I never have evidence to support my thoughts. Why? Because my thoughts are always irrational!! That’s something that I never, ever thought about before therapy. Therapy helped me see that pretty much ALL of my anxiety was based on me thinking some pretty ridiculous things. And the thoughts only get more ridiculous as I continue to ruminate on them. I’ve mentioned this in my earlier therapy posts, but when I get anxious, I ask myself/think about lot of questions depending on the situation (e.g.”Will they like me?” “Will I have a good time?” “What if I…?”, etc). My therapist instructed me to answer the questions and move on. This is a work in progress, but it does help!
Is my thinking realistic? Above, you can see I highlighted the questions that apply to my situation:
- Am I expecting myself to be perfect? Yes. Always. Friends, one thing I’ve realized about myself through therapy, but have kinda known, is that I’m a perfectionist. But I’m a perfectionist for certain things. Sometimes, I couldn’t care less about a situation. Other times, I care very, very, very, very much.
- Through therapy, I’ve admitted that I started to care a LOT about what others thought about me. I’m not sure when this began, but I wasn’t always this way. So breaking the idea that I need to be perfect AND do perfect things, is definitely a work in progress.
Answer: In the case of having the in-laws visit, I realize that I have to chill. Not everything will be perfect and they won’t expect it. I can relax and go with the flow.
- Am I overestimating the chances for disaster? Yes. Always. I always go to this place of, “What if everything turns out terrible?” Ughhh, it’s a horrible place for the mind to go.
Answer: There will be no disasters and if there are, we’ll deal with them. I have to keep in mind that a disaster isn’t going to occur 99.9999% of the time.
- Am I exaggerating the importance of the events? Yes. Always. It’s part of the perfectionist mind-set I have at times. I think some things are MAJOR, when to others, it’s no big deal.
Answer: Their visit is important to me, but it’s not the end-all-be-all of visits! I’m not meeting the Queen or Barack Obama! *lol*
- Am I predicting the future negatively instead of experimenting with it, even being excited by it? Yes. Always. Instead of getting excited and happy about stuff, I get anxious. And that anxiety brings on all the negative thoughts, even if the event will be fun.
Answer: The in-laws will have fun and be happy to see us. I haven’t seen them in a while, so it’ll be awesome to spend time with them. There’s no need to be negative. How can seeing family I love be negative? I know not everyone has a good relationship with their in-laws, so I’m happy and fortunate that I do and need to focus on that.
Friends, that’s it! That’s how I work out my anxiety. Depending on the situation, I will use my worksheet (or just write this out in my journal). It is awesome and it really, really helps me see how irrational I become about stuff. Writing in and of itself helps me, but using the ABCDs really helps me see how my thoughts go too far and how I can reign them in. Now, I’ll continue to read what I wrote until I get it etched in my mind. Because that’s the thing… it doesn’t mean that I’ll stop thinking about something just because I wrote it out. It’s a process of reassuring myself (repeatedly) that things will be ok. As I always say, anxiety is second nature to me, so I have to practice using these tools over and over (even for just one issue) to break the habit. I have to #trusttheprocess
Hope you enjoyed this post! Talk soon,