When your mind is overwhelmed with worrisome thoughts, a pervasive feeling of danger, or an overactive sense that you’re unprepared for some future disaster, managing much else in life can be difficult.
That’s life with anxiety.
We usually think that external triggers, like upsetting events of the past or frightening concerns about the future, are to blame for our worry or panic.
While these situations may trigger panic or worry, the way that you perceive, or think about these situations can also lead to anxiety.
One way to manage anxiety is to manage your thought patterns.
Consider the fact that your thoughts are not an autonomic command of your brain, like breathing or your heartbeat. This lack of autonomy makes your thoughts and thought patterns controllable.
In other words, it’s possible to consciously manage your thoughts and therefore manage your anxiety.
What Is CBT?
One of the most common therapy treatments for anxiety disorders is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Its premise is that our perception of a certain event, rather than the actual event itself, causes us to feel a certain way.
CBT therapy focuses on two different elements – cognitive and behavioral therapies.
The cognitive portion determines how your negative thought patterns contribute to your anxiety. The behavioral element focuses on how your reaction in certain situations plays a role in your anxiety.
Identify Individual Expectations
Situational perception varies from person to person. Your outlook, fears, and personal experiences affect your point of view.
To manage anxious perception, it’s vital to identify what your expectations are for a situation. When approached with a situation, CBT asks what you think about it. For instance, you may think a social invitation is either intimidating or exciting.
Pinpointing your initial thoughts is key to managing anxiety effectively.
Challenge Negative Thinking Patterns
Your behavior and bodily responses are a direct reflection of what is happening in your mind. Whether you fight, fly, or freeze, anxious thinking occurs first. You react in a certain manner because the negative thoughts support your reaction.
CBT challenges these negative thinking patterns and, in turn, challenges your reaction.
Taking time to question and evaluate these patterns will produce situational responses that aren’t anxiety driven. Preventing panic attacks and having the ability to manage anxiety requires this change in perception.
To use the social invitation example, those who find such an event to be intimidating would benefit from locating the source of their fear. Perhaps the intimidating reasons hold little or no validity. CBT asks questions, analyzes past events, and tests the plausibility of the worry.
Perception of this particular situation may be shadowed by unrealistic fears. CBT helps uncover these negative thought patterns and your responses to the original, underlying issue.
Replace Negative Thoughts with Realistic Ones
Once you identify negative thought patterns, you can begin replacing them with healthy alternative thoughts.
Most of the time, negative thought patterns develop an irrational prognosis. To return once more to the social invitation example, some might develop a fear of falling in public. While falling in front of someone isn’t necessarily detrimental, it could just be the precursor to other negative thoughts.
The fear of falling could lead to being afraid that others don’t take you seriously, which might feed into a number of other insecurities. Without being redirected, one negative thought could spiral out of control quickly, making it especially difficult to manage your anxiety.
CBT helps inspire more rational thoughts to defuse the fear of falling. For example, you might think instead that people are usually concerned when someone falls. Or you could see that the probability of falling is extremely low, and therefore unlikely to happen. Thus, the idea that you would be the object of ridicule lessens. In this way, CBT attempts to manage anxiety by replacing negative thoughts with more rational and positive ones.
Completely eliminating anxiety isn’t always possible. However, you can slow down unwelcome and irrational anxiety with help. Change the way you think with the aid of an experienced therapist. Aren’t you ready to free your mind and live life with less fear?