Following my post ‘How to Value Time Alone’ which was posted on Kronicles and the mention of objective thinking right across my social media accounts, I received quite a few messages asking me to further explain my strategy and how to implement it into daily life. At first I thought I might respond to each individual query however it’s become apparent that this may be something that is best explained in detail and posted publicly.
Before going any further I’d like to make it clear that I am not a medical professional, I speak from personal experience, if you are struggling please reach out to services available to you in your local area. There are plenty of organisations around the globe dedicated to mental health assistance, please seek out that information or, in the event of an emergency, call emergency services.
When I find myself in an anxiety spiral, particularly in social situations, and it’s not a severe anxiety spiral I’m able to manoeuvre myself out of a full blown anxiety attack by using objective thinking strategies. The key is to immediately stop what I am doing, stop my thought process and assess the situation that I am in at that time. Is the situation that I am in dangerous? Is the situation that I am in going to leave me in a positive or negative mental state after I’m finished? For example; am I about to be hit by a bus? No? Keep going. Will I feel a sense of achievement/pride after I complete what it is that I’m doing or will it land me in a mental health ward because there’s no possible way that I can cope with what’s happening or about to happen? Achievement and pride? Keep going.
In the second phase of the assessment I find myself also considering whether or not I can or should take any action relating to the situation that is making me anxious. Is there something I can do to make this a more comfortable experience for myself? For example; Is there a friend that might like to come with me to the event? Yes? Are they able to come? Yes? Keep going. If they aren’t able to come, am I physically able to do this alone, anxious and intrusive thoughts aside? Yes? Keep going.
Action generally leads to change. If not when it comes to having a ‘security’ blanket with me, can I change the situation to make myself more comfortable? For example; If I’m not comfortable with a catch up being at X location, can I change it to Y location that I am comfortable with? Yes? Keep going. If not, is there a serious reason, health risk, safety risk that I am not able to go to location X? No? Keep going.
Now that I’ve stopped, made an assessment of the situtation and come up with a plan for any action or change that I could make, it’s time to assess how realistic and rational the anxious thoughts are. For the most part the anxiety that I can keep at bay with objective thinking is social anxiety. For example; I have repeated, intrusive thoughts that if I go into the grocery store alone and buy X item, everybody in the store is looking at me and judging me for what I purchase. Even if I use the self-serve check out. Is this a rational thought? No? Keep going. Is it realistic and rational to assume that everybody else in the grocery store is literally just there to do their own grocery shopping and aren’t even paying attention to you? Yes? Keep bloody going because you’re almost there and it’s almost over and you’ve nearly finished doing the thing that you’re anxiety is telling you that you can’t do. SEE HOW BRILLIANT YOU ARE?
Be honest with yourself. Your feelings are VALID. You are VALID. It’s honestly, completely okay to be anxious about whatever it is that’s making you anxious. But, honestly, is it worth not living your life? Honestly, is it worth missing out on a great experience, or not having that cheat meal that you’ve been planning for a week, is it worth not living your life how you honestly want to? No? Keep going pal, because you’re already at the start line, and what’s the point of getting all the way to the start to finish before you’ve begun? Sure you might have to constantly tell yourself that you’re okay and everything is fine to get to the finish line but you’ve already done the hardest part. You’re halfway there, don’t give up now!
If you’re stuck for some things you could repeat to yourself in anxious times, check out the 8 affirmations for anxiety that I use.
Whatever it is that you do, just remember to utilise objective thinking strategies and keep going.