How to better manage anxiety – Tactic: Create Options
We have all done it. Some stimulus (event) occurs, or someone close to you did or did not do something they were or were not suppose to have done. I would say the obligatory “wait for it” but generally speaking we don’t have to wait. Its on us almost instantaneously. The scrunched face. Eyes get big. Heart pace quickens. Maybe tightness in your chest or shoulders. Snappy response to the other person. Oh lest I forget the verbalizing out loud or in your head “WTF?! Hence we don’t have to wait for it – it’s like its been waiting on us! An almost instantaneous response.
As humans we often filter things in a binary manner – it’s this OR it’s that, period. We seemingly leave very little room for anything else. Oh, then this is where the response is cued that I hear often with clients “In my head or In my mind” as they proceed to come up with the two polar opposite choices (or often just one).
We also land on more negative or negative-ish conclusions. Experts have said that we have anywhere from 12,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day. And the majority of those thoughts are negative or negative leaning, as well as recurring. Things like I can’t do that, or no one likes me, or they will think I’m stupid are some of the platinum hits we continue to play in our minds. And like a broken record (or for millennials or Gen Z’ers having a song on repeat), we hear – and even feel — that same thought or belief.
So what to do? Create options
First we want to:
- take stock of the automatic thoughts – usually the one conclusion you ended up with.
- Tell yourself I am not going to judge yet, and adopt a curious mind set
- Then come up with another 1-3 other possibilities might there be (a minimum of 3 total)
- Notice the potential validity in either of the other options
- Notice how you feel now vs how you felt before the exercise
Regulator tip – If you find yourself just going back to the same option, tell yourself no, it could be one of the other options or a combination of options as well
Regulator tip – Write these down at first – it can feel better and you can see your thoughts and better be able to assess them.
Now go forth and regulate.
Regulators – Mount up!