Challenging fearful thoughts.
We are programmed to think negatively to aid our survival and this can be heightened when in stressful situations. But these thoughts can easily overwhelm us and paralyse us. Try to get curious about these thoughts rather than pushing them away. Monsters tend to grow in size when we don’t turn to face them…
Use the Socratic questioning method to find out more about your negative thoughts and to challenge them:
“You cannot control the behavior of others, but you can always choose how you respond to it.”
Roy T. Bennett
Working with the situation:
We often get stuck in one way of thinking about our problems and situations. This can lead to us repeating patterns of thinking and behaviour which might not serve us very well.
Try asking yourself these questions:
Avoid – is there anything about this situation I can avoid or say no to?
Alter – is there anything about this situation I can change (external changes)?
Adapt – is there anything I can change about how I feel/what I think about this situation (internal changes)?
Accept – is this something I need to accept by:
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
This works because it takes us out of the instinctual fight/flight/freeze part of our brain into the noticing/rational part. It is much more difficult to panic if we are busy noticing things around us.
Try the 54321 method:
‘Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.’
‘If you focus on what you’ve left behind, you’ll never be able to see what lies ahead.’
Auguste Gusteau in Disney’s Ratatouille
Sometimes, we just need to feel rooted so that we can be safe. Think of it as anchoring a tent by securely fastening guy ropes and banging tent pegs into the ground or casting an anchor from a boat to hold it steady in the winds and water.
You can ground yourself (as in Tip 8) and have a sentence or phrase ready to repeat to yourself to anchor you in the here and now. You can adapt any sentence which makes you feel secure. For example, ‘It’s (insert time) on (insert day) and I am (insert location). I am safe. Holding something like a stone or a small favourite ornament or picture can really help to anchor you too.
Making sure we are firmly in our physical bodies rather than lost in thoughts in our heads can help us to feel safe and secure.
Sit down and place your feet flat on the floor. Notice how the floor supports your feet and the chair supports your seat bones and back. Try to feel yourself solidly into your body. Keep your eyes open as it is easier to stay connected to what is solidly around you. You can pair this up with anchoring and noticing (see tips 9 and 10).
'All that we are is a result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.'