The Huddle Blog

Sharing thoughts on a cognitive-based understanding of anxiety and how online individual and group therapy can help us get better, together.

Urgency is my cue to slow down.

By maggie

Several members commented that what I wrote about urgency last week was helpful. Great! Let’s turn that into a game! Anxiety makes everything feel urgent. Just because your sensations and thoughts make your content feel urgent and important doesn’t mean it is urgent or important. Training yourself to slow down when you feel urgent across all aspects of your life will help you relate more effectively to anxious content of all forms.  Thus, our first Member Challenge! For the next 15 days, I challenge you to notice urgency twice per day and actively slow yourself down.  Specifically, when you feel urgency, set an alarm on your phone for five minutes, and refrain from whatever the urgency is telling you to do for those five minutes. Here are some examples: I have the urge to recheck my email. Five minute timer! ⏳I have the urge to check my memory. Five minute timer! ⏳I have the urge to wash my hands again. Five minute timer! ⏳I have the urge to check my social media.  Five minute timer! ⏳I have the urge to get reassurance. Five minute timer! ⏳I have the urge to reread what I just read. Five minute timer! ⏳I have the urge to check my dating apps.  Five …

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Waiting to feel certain to take action

By maggie

I was talking to a client filled with regret about waiting until late in his life to pursue the romantic relationships he always wanted, and I had the thought, “The belief that ‘I have to meet some arbitrary criteria in order to live my life’ is a really problematic one. Later that day I had the presence of mind to write the title “Waiting for my life to start” as the type of problematic belief that deserves its own new entry.  As I wrote it I had the thought, “Oh I’m looking forward to when I write that.” And then, I noticed anxiety wondering when I’d actually do it.  Bingo! This is the problem! And so, because I have some time I am writing the entry now and imperfectly.  Making plans can be very seductive. You may have lots of great ideas about what you want to do and how you’ll do it and thinking about these plans can be very exciting. In addition, “planning” to do something by figuring out when you’ll do it, for how long, with whom, etc., rather than doing it, can feel like you are making progress even though you are not. Sometimes planning is an …

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When in doubt, write it out.

By maggie

 I suggest writing as homework frequently. There are different types of writing exercises that are likely to be helpful for different types of suffering. Here’s a working list. We can add to it when we talk more about it.  Writing for OCD and anxious doubt Self-monitoring for daily anxiety and OCD. This writing has a really specific format because I want you to orient yourself towards observing your experience rather than get caught in your content in the anxious moment. Focus on what is happening, rather than figuring out why it’s happening. See this infographicfor questions to answer in your anxious episode or on a daily basis when you are tracking your anxious experiences.  Scheduled worry time for habitual worry and insomnia due to worry. If you chronically worry about all kinds of different things, try scheduled worry time for 14 days. Try this also if you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early. You might not be worried all day long, but if worry is interrupting your sleep, you should work on it during the day.  Modified self-monitoring for mental compulsions. In the groups that we discuss Harm OCD, many members have already done effective exposures to their feared content. You …

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Effort is a paradox

By maggie

Try to remember that your present is a gift. Don’t try too hard. Let’s talk more about paradoxical effort.  As we’ve discussed, if you try to use mindfulness to suppress or control your thoughts and feelings, they will increase and grow stronger. Mindfulness in any given moment is not meant to alleviate psychological suffering. A habit of mindfulness practice over time will likely reduce your overall sensitization and make it easier to notice that your thoughts are just thoughts in any given moment. In the moment of suffering, though, mindfulness is a therapeutic attitude that helps you stay committed to what you were already planning to do without making your internal experience worse.  If this doesn’t seem to be working for you, you’re likely struggling with paradoxical effort. It’s not that you aren’t trying hard enough or being lazy about your mental health or your treatment. You’re probably trying too hard to use the right strategies and coping skills. Because you are also hoping that the strategies will make your thoughts and feelings go away, it’s getting worse. Oops. It was paradoxical effort.  Paradoxical effort can be the issue with your struggle with yourself. It may also be the issue …

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I get to do that.

By maggie

Over-responsibility of thoughts about the futureA few weeks ago, we focused on over-responsibility in both the present and the past. Several people asked about over-responsibility in the future. Thanks for the reminder. I forgot to worry about the future. The short answer is that it’s the same answer minus content plus anticipatory anxiety and emotional perfectionism. Got that?  Thought-action fusion reviewSo, remember that over-responsibility of thought is when you have thought-action fusion. You have a thought that arrives with a spike of uncertainty and you interpret the thought as meaningful because of the accompanying feeling.  For instance, I might have the thought “What if my mom dies?” and then no spike of anxiety, uncertainty, guilt or sadness.“Not an important thought,” says my mind, “she’s not going to die. I don’t need to worry. Back to my other thoughts.” Notice that I have no more or less certainty about my mom’s mortality now than I did before I had that thought. I just had a thought about it. That’s a catastrophic thought without thought-action fusion.  Comparatively, I might have thought, “What if the barista put drugs in my coffee?” and then a SPIKE! of anxiety and uncertainty. “Very important thought,” says my mind, “Did you see that spike? I …

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