A CBT look at anxious assessment versus calm assessment…

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An example to show that there are 4 strands to how we feel and what we do:

1234strandsbehaviour

It is thought that anxiety and depression causes a shift in thinking – taking away clarity, and instead hardwiring a distorted negative mental filter (cognition). This causes inappropriate upsettness, both emotional and physical, which in turn causes us to choose self limiting or self sabotaging behaviours in response to a situation.

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fourstrandsviciouscircle

Take a look at the situation table below to see an example of the difference between an anxious person’s processing of a situation, versus a calm non-anxious person’s processing of it, and think about how and when this might apply to you and your life.

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THE SITUATION : You are out and about, doing a little shopping, feeling good, with a plan to meet a friend afterwards for a coffee and a catchup. But, then: you see a friend walk towards you, and you ready yourself to say hello, but no – he blanks you – walks right on by, deliberately. You believe he saw you.

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Here’s the cycle with the very anxious person:

Cognitive Emotional Physical Behavioural
‘Oh my God’, we think, ‘he’s just blanked me. I’ve done something wrong. He doesn’t like me. Which means the group have probably been bitching about me. It must have been because of that thing I did … Oh my God. I feel sick!’ We feel upset – humiliated, embarrassed, confused, hurt, anxious, maybe angry… and are plunged into a ‘low’. We do in fact feel sick. Our body goes into ‘fight or flight’ in response to this awful horrible event – our heart beats hard, we blush, our tummy goes into knots, we overheat and sweat, we’re shaky, our thoughts are jumbled and racing. We cancel the drink – the good is gone out of the day now. We go home and stew and worry… replaying the moment in our heads.. replaying our history with this person.. imagining what could have made him do that… We decide not to go out the next night with the gang. Can’t face it. We lie in bed, sleepless, constructing a movie in our heads of where and when and how we will next meet this person (looking fantastic and being cool as a cucumber of course), ‘I’ll say this, then he’ll say that..’ and so on. We might ring mutual friends and over analyse it, looking for reassurance. It’s AWFUL.

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Here’s the cycle with the calm person:

Cognitive Emotional Physical Behavioural
‘Oh, what’s that about’, we think, ‘Did he just blank me? Nah. Why would he do that? Hmm. Maybe he’s in a hurry and thinks he got away without stopping, that I’ll think he hasn’t seen me. Cheeky bugger! We feel okay – curious, bemused, but our ‘core’ is unaffected – we’re not very upset. We feel much as we did before the incident. We text him – saying ‘Oi! I saw you see me you know! What’s the story? In a hurry somewhere and thought you got away with it? Ah here!! 🙂‘. We mention it to our mutual friend that night, who is highly amused and suggests he’s an ‘oddball’. ‘Ah stop’ we laugh, and move on to another topic. We tease him later that week when we see him, and he tells us, ‘hey, I genuinely just didn’t see you, I was in a world of my own!’.

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Thinking taskDo you see the difference?

The calm person doesn’t immediately jump to a negative about that person and about themselves – their body doesn’t go into fight or flight – they don’t fortune tell and mind read and catastrophise and all the rest of the common unhelpful thinking habits – and, even if they found out that the friend was in a mood and did deliberately blank them, they’d just think it was pretty silly, and would take steps to address the issue – they would know that just because somebody thinks little of you, you don’t have to agree with them. And they would know that other peoples behaviour belongs to them, not you. If you have good self esteem and just do your best through life you have nothing to fear… Of course maybe you have misbehaved and upset the person with your own silly behaviour, that’s a possiblity – nobody is perfect. In that instance you can still remain calm and have acceptance and live in the present – all we can do is our best.

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Download this post as a PDF: fourstrandshandout.

Download and use my thought form PDF to help you to examine and challenge your own mental filtering.

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