Along with my therapy, I have homework each week in a workbook. My therapist uses this workbook and it is absolutely great. I feel like it was written just for me and I can relate to so much. Sometimes when the authors describe anxiety I feel like they are taking the words right out of my mouth. Words that before I wasn’t able to articulate. I’m learning a lot about myself and about my anxiety.
The main thing I’ve learned this week is that the way I think determines whether my anxiety persists or declines.
One of the huge problems I have with my anxiety is that I tend to overestimate both the likelihood and the intensity of threat and danger. And that is a completely normal aspect of anxiety. With anxiety, ordinary experiences are interpreted as threatening through overestimating, exaggerating, or being unrealistic. This is a core fear that underlies anxiety. I tend to automatically think dangerously, to catastrophize, exaggerating the probability and severity of bad outcomes of common, everyday situation. I can’t wait to begin working on strategies to help me detect and override my exaggerated, automatic thoughts of threat and danger.
When I’m feeling anxious it’s extremely hard for me to feel like I can handle the situation effectively. I see myself as weak, vulnerable, and unable to cope. Because I haven’t dealt with my anxiety in a healthy manner, I’ve developed a fear of the anxiety itself. And that only compounds my anxiety. It’s really a vicious cycle. It distorts our thinking process so that we become narrowly focused on threat, danger, and helplessness. This kind of exclusive thinking only prolongs my anxiety. Learning all of these explanations and concepts are key to working through my anxiety.