I was recently working with a client suffering from quite debilitating anxiety when she happened to just let something slip in conversation which proved to be a real breakthrough for her and hopefully for others.
It was when she said “I used to be superstitious but I proved that it was all rubbish!’
How? – ‘Well, I just did all the things that were supposed to bring you bad luck and nothing ever happened. It was a load of rot! And I Proved it!’
So how would you prove your Anxiety was a load of rot?
Well the answer was to do the very things that she was anxious about and prove to her self that the thoughts and feelings she was experiencing about what might happen or what was going to happen were as false as her superstitions used to be.
This is an approach embedded in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy – known as flooding but the way this particular client framed her solution was far more subtle. What was it she could do to prove that her anxieties were ill founded and that she could regain her former joy of life? It was about constructing a series of activities to last four weeks or more that would prove to her beyond a shadow of doubt that her thoughts and internal dialogue were not helping her.
How much of this pattern of thinking, feeling and behaving had simply become an unhelpful habit for her was becoming clearer as we spoke.
Anxiety is a state associated with thoughts about things which have not yet happened. These frequently cause sufferers to change their behaviour and thinking patterns so that they experience high levels of distress – all because of a habit.
One month in to her new habits and old confident patterns of thinking feeling and behaving are emerging stronger than ever. Habits are entrenched behaviours and thinking patterns and the take three to four weeks to change. For many sufferers changes in the way they feel is linked to a collection of behaviours. Change the behaviours and you will change the way you think and feel at the same time.