So, how do you relate effectively to your unanswerable, catastrophic thoughts?
Your anxiety disorder will be cured when you overcome your anxiety sensitivity, or second fear. Anxiety treatment can’t and shouldn’t mean that you’ll never be anxious again. Becoming anxious is a normal, healthy adaptive reaction to doing challenging things with uncertain outcomes. I would never want to take the capacity to become anxious away from you. Instead, I want to teach you to respond to anxiety in a way that helps you rather than hurts you.
When you feel anxious, here are your steps:
#1 – Label it as anxiety
#2 – Switch from content to process.
#3 – Do the opposite of avoidance: Get unfused from your thoughts. Open up to sensations.
#4 – Actively allow your anxiety. Make it worse. Ask for more of it.
There will be other posts going into detail on each of these points. For now, let’s discuss how to help yourself learn how active, willing acceptance.
There is a right way to self-monitor. In order to practice the steps above, you’ll benefit from seeking out triggering situations and watching your experience. You want to observe the following aspects of your experience:
1) What was the trigger? Was it internal or external?
2) What sensations do you feel?
3) What thoughts are you having?
4) What is your reaction to the sensations and the thoughts?
5) What types of avoidance do you want to engage in?
6) Did you engage in avoidance/neutralization/compulsions?
7) If yes, what did you do? If no, why didn’t you?
Try to answer these questions as soon after (or during!) the episode as possible. Try to answer in as few words as possible, as if you are a scientist taking notes in a lab.