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Intrusive Thoughts - Handling Anxiety through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques

What builds confidence?

 

Why don’t we have it sometimes?

 

How do I fake it until I make it?

 

Have you ever asked yourself these questions? I know I have! Probably my whole life, but didn’t realize it - until I was triggered by something new I was facing. Going for a new job, going to a party, giving a presentation, then it would hit me square in the face. I didn’t even have a word for it -  was it anxiety? Was I just nervous, because aren’t you supposed to be nervous getting up in front of people or being assessed by others? Then I discovered, not everybody has the same level of “anxiety or nervousness”! What? You mean not everybody gets butterflies in their stomach, their mouth becomes dry, palms sweaty?  Wow, what is wrong with me? Well, I realized, nothing is wrong with me.  We all have different levels of mood, calmness, nervousness, etc. 

 

As I was thinking about writing this blog, I went on Twitter and an article popped up from People Magazine about Ryan Reynolds talking about his anxiety!! Go figure!! Here’s this amazingly successful actor, and he still gets anxiety. The point is, we all can feel anxious at different times.

 

Now what?  

 

How do I deal with this?

 

How do I stop feeling anxious?  Where’s the magic wand to get rid of this?

 

The first thing we need to do is identify where we are with it. This may be a little hard for some, but reflecting and identifying your thoughts and feelings is the first place to start. I want to share some of the things I have learned over the years of being a social worker/therapist. We first have to identify what are our “triggers” or “issues” are - and I don’t mean this in a bad way. We all have “triggers” and “issues/situations” all day everyday! These are the things that we cannot control, but affect us (i.e. a sunny day, our family member being sad, our company policies, etc.). 

 

But then there are those triggers that are sometimes tough to identify and even more tough to accept - those are the memories we have that can present as intrusive thoughts. These are the times where we are driving or trying to fall asleep and an “intrusive thought” pops in our head:

- “Why didn’t they hire me?”  

-“Why was I always the last one picked on the teams?”

-“Why wasn’t I invited to that party?”  

 

These thoughts pop-in, and the next thing I know, I have swirled down the drain to the most negative thoughts about me, which make me feel horrible about myself. And guess what? I hate feeling horrible about myself! It affects my mood and feelings and in-turn, these bad mood feelings affect my actions for the rest of the day at times. I’m not sure about you, but I’d prefer my day not to go this way!

 

So what to do now? I have identified these Pop-In Intrusive thoughts and I can see that they don’t make me feel good, but I can't wisk or wish them away!  Well, this is where using some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) tools can help with reframing these automatic thoughts. I have a great tool box of different strategies to help with neutralizing the anxiety, building confidence and being able to move forward. I invite you to continue coming to my page for updates about this and/or contact me to see how I can help you with building a toolbox for yourself. 

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