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Not today, anxiety, not today

Every now and then anxiety trips me up. It drapes itself around me and gets the best of me. I become small under its massive, oppressive presence. And in my smallness, I feel fear. Anxiety is a beast, and every now and then, I am its prey.

Because of this unbearable heaviness of being, I have come up with a method to help myself shake this seemingly unshakeable discomfort. This method not only has helped me, it has also helped my clients.

the Rethink method:

This method is explained in depth in my upcoming book (release: Summer 2024).

The basic jist is:

  • Something happens
  • We apply a thought/belief to it
  • The thought/belief generates feelings
  • The feelings direct our actions
  • Our actions yield our results

EXAMPLE 1:

Financial stress/anxiety:

  • A credit card bill arrives in the mail
  • As soon as you see the MasterCard logo on the envelope you think: Aaaargh!  I can’t afford this!  I am so bad with money!  Why did I spend so much on my credit card last month?!!! I’m doomed!
  • Anxiety floods over you, as do profound feelings of lack and loss
  • You tear up the bill, ignore it, or you spend more because retail therapy is a medicine that got you here in the first place (can you say: vicious cycle?)
  • You are overdrawn even more

Let’s Rethink this:

  • A credit card bill arrives in the mail
  • As soon as you see the MasterCard logo on the envelope you think: Ok, here it is, the amount I need to pay. What a great opportunity to believe in my financial strength. I am so grateful for this opportunity to show up financially, and for my financial ability and perserverence
  • Peace surrounds you, as does gratitude
  • You open the bill and immediately contact the company to either set up payments, or to pay the bill in full
  • You are within your budget and hold excitement towards your financial capabilities

Example 2:

Relationship stress/anxiety:

  • A breakup is happening
  • Whether the breakup is by your design, or orchestrated from your soon-to-be-ex, you find yourself thinking, blaming him or her or them or yourself for being not good enough, for being selfish or narcissistic (we love this label these days)
  • You feel abandoned, or cruel or misunderstood
  • You over-consume to self-medicate (be it consumption of food, alcohol, shopping, or sex)
  • You are left deflated, manic, depressed, out of sorts

Let’s Rethink this:

  • A breakup is happening
  • Whether the breakup is your design, or orchestrated by your soon to be ex, you decide to think/believe from an accountable place (not a blame place, but an accountable place, there is a difference): I am ready to personally grow, this is opportunity to address some personal shortcomings…I am not responsible for the shortcomings of my soon-to-be-ex, those are theirs to manage, however they decide to do so.
  • You feel healthy, grown up, capable of managing any discomfort
  • You take action. You journal more frequently, you schedule sessions with your therapist, you gather friends for company, you take yourself (and your dog) on long walks while listening to your favorite music or your favorite podcast.
  • You find yourself in a position that is a stronger and healthier version of you

While anxiety is an oppressor, believe it or not, it is in your power to determine just how “oppressible” you are. By exploring your thoughts and beliefs around an incident and shifting them to a productive place, you are redirecting your results. You are rethinking.

Your therapist is here for you. Take productive, strong action and schedule some sessions, or some extra sessions.  Let’s do a deep dive into just how capable, how non-oppressible you are.

In healing and personal growth,

Beth Clardy Lewis, LPC-S
and the Vervewell staff
Vervewell.org

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