My therapist changed my life using cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to retrain my thoughts in order to deal with my anxiety.
I saw my anxiety as unacceptable and belittled myself constantly. My therapist taught me that listening to my inner dialogue was crucial, and explained how self-talk played an important part in enabling anxiety and panic.
What we tell ourselves affects our anxiety and panic severely. Through cognitive therapy, I learned my horrible self-talk, is also known as A-talk. It’s an abusive and dehumanizing way of managing life.
A-talk simply doesn’t accept imperfection, and a common feeling amongst those of us with anxiety disorder is that we must be perfect.
Learning to train my thoughts to focus on B-talk rather than A-talk was imperative for me to cope with my anxiety in a positive and constructive way.
B-talk doesn’t insist on perfectionism. It’s a softening inner voice that accepts us as we are. B-talk is a nurturing inner voice.
A-talk derives from the common fear-of-fear that those of us that suffer from anxiety can relate to intimately.
They are the “What if?” thoughts that are so common amongst anyone dealing with anxiety.
We say to ourselves, “What if I make a fool of myself at this party?” and “What if I can’t stop shaking?” These thoughts fuel our fear.
By incorporating positive B-talk, we deal with this thinking in a positive way.
We are hard on ourselves, and we feel a deep sense of urgency telling ourselves, “What is wrong with Me?”
Self-talk speaks a common theme for those of us that deal with anxiety. Most of the time we feel an overwhelming amount of shame.
If we don’t manage our anxiety and thoughts properly, we continue this spiral of shame.
After experiencing my panic attack in the cafeteria, I avoided it like the plague. My shame paired with negative thinking taught me to avoid anything I was fearful of.
When we experience a panic attack we avoid similar situations. I was afraid of driving, flying, and taking the bus. Avoidance of these activities, made my world continue to grow smaller.
My mind was filled with “What ifs?” When I started to replace these thoughts with assuring B-talk, I slowly regained control of my life.
At one time, I was always afraid of having a severe panic attack on the bus. I would constantly think to myself, “What if I lose control and make a fool of myself?”
An example of B-talk that has helped me to ride the bus is, “I’m only having a thought that I will lose control. Chances are that it probably won’t happen.” I’ve had to learn countless types of replacement thoughts to ride the bus.
As you learn to feel good about yourself and allow your B-talk to gain in strength, your anxiety does become more manageable. This has all been what I consider a slow process. With anything, recovery takes time and patience.
Through cognitive coping skills, I’ve learned how to deal with my feelings of shame and overcome these my greatest fears. I’ve conquered anxiety and panic attacks.
The greatest aspect of life that I had to learn was that I was not alone. I attended workshops weekly with others that suffered from anxiety disorder as well at a local clinic.
Talking to a therapist, helping others with anxiety, and learning cognitive behavioral therapy tools, has made me see life as beautiful instead of fearful.