This week I am joined by a friend and frequent collaborator, Lauren Rosen. Lauren in a licensed marriage and family therapist in California specializing in OCD treatment. In a bit of departure, we’re doing a top five list! Lauren and I decided to share the top five anxiety busting recovery tips and concepts that helped us both along the path to recovery. Is it click bait? Is it helpful? It’s probably both, so check it out!
Lauren’s Top Five Anxiety Busting Tips
- Thoughts are not facts! Lauren had to come to grips with the fact that her thoughts were not necessarily truths, nor were they accurate reflections of reality. This is true for all of us! We think many thoughts every day. It’s quite possible that none of them are actually true on any given day. Having realized and accepted this, Lauren had to break the habit of launching into a flurry of activity in response to every thought she had.
- Thoughts and thinking are not the same thing. Thinking is a behavior. It’s a thing humans do. Given that we are doing something, we CAN learn to change that behavior. We don’t get to change the content of our thoughts, but we can work on changing our thinking habits and the way we engage with our thoughts.
- Certainty is an illusion. Lauren had to confront the reality that there is no such thing as certainty in life. Almost nothing is ever completely certain. Along the way, Lauren realized that she was not really seeking certainty, she was seeking confidence. She was on a frantic quest to FEEL sure, even when she knew that she could never BE sure. The search for certainty was really a search for the feeling of being emotionally settled.
- Recovery isn’t about feeling better. Recovery is about getting better at feeling. This might sound like some kind of Internet self-help guru nonsense, but it is full of truth. Rather than trying to make everything stop and go away, try working on getting better at navigating through the things you think, feel, and experience. This is a far more rewarding process in the long run.
- You have the power to change your attitude toward the world, even when you can’t change the world itself. We say it all the time. It’s not what you think or feel, it’s how you react to what you think or feel. You can’t control those thoughts and symptoms but you can control how you react to them and relate to them. This applies far beyond recovery, so this one is well worth thinking about.
Drew’s Top Five Anxiety Busting Tips
- At least consider the idea that anxious thoughts and sensations may be wrong. This is a hard reality to confront given that anxious thoughts and sensations can FEEL so strong and so important. We should at least consider the possibility that even though they feel really important, they may not really be!
- Stop speaking irrational fear out loud all the time. Many of us wind up stuck in the habit of automatically speaking our anxiety and fear out loud immediately upon experiencing a feeling or thought. This is a soothing and safety seeking ritual that only serves to reinforce the mistaken belief that anxiety requires attention and focus. It does not. This isn’t about squashing emotions. This is about forming a healthier relationship with fear.
- You cannot fix this problem be sheer force of will, hope, or spirit. That’s not how it works. We are not machines. We cannot lock into some kind of perfect sequence of techniques, put on our big boy pants, and get better in a straight line. There is no recovery button and you are not a recovery machine. I was sure I was, and I was deadass wrong. Don’t make the mistake I made.
- Teach other people. When you are sure that you can’t possibly get better and have no idea what’s going on, sometimes the act of listening to others that are also struggling can make a different. But not only listening. Try helping. Try passing along recovery advice to someone that needs it. When you are wondering why you can’t take the advice yourself, pass it along to someone else. Often that process can clarify and inform your own actions. Be a teacher and a helper when you can. It can have positive impact on your own journey.
- Today is going to happen no matter what you do. Do the best you can with the day. When we sit and wring hands over how we feel, we are resisting the fact that today is happening in whatever form it takes. This can almost be automatic. Instead, consider that resisting today is pointless and fruitless, while doing your best to navigate through today can lead to positive change. Today is here in a form that you did not choose and cannot control. Now do the best you can with today because there are lessons in that doing.
About Lauren Rosen
Lauren is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of California (LMFT#110644) as well as in the state of Utah (Reference # 12388215-3902). She is also registered to provide online treatment in the state of Florida. Lauren provides specialized care for OCD, anxiety disorders, depression, and related issues.
Lauren’s Instagram: @theobsessivemind
Lauren’s Website: Center For The Obsessive Mind
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