Dan Lippmann LCSW. Practical, Sustainable Happiness

When anxiety attacks, will you be prepared?

When anxiety attacks, you’re desperate for ways to bring your racing thoughts and pounding heart under control. If you’re like most people, your main approaches for coping with anxiety include:

  • Talking about your problems over and over with whoever will listen
  • Thinking about your problems over and over, in place of sleeping, eating, or relaxing

Nice try! But anxiety is a powerful foe, armed with negative thoughts and feelings that are both overwhelming and convincing.

While lots of talking and thinking may provide temporary relief, rehashing events over and over won’t vanquish anxiety or resolve your problems in the long run.

Attacking Anxiety with Pen and Paper

 

To gain true relief when anxiety attacks, you need to move past unstructured talking and unproductive thinking and write your negative thoughts and feelings down on paper.

The simple act of writing down your thoughts allows you to organize and examine them with greater clarity. They immediately begin to lose their power, because you can literally see them more objectively.

But what if you’re confused and overwhelmed and can’t pinpoint the specific thoughts and emotions behind your upset – the ones that would be helpful to write down?

Start by choosing one single event or situation when you felt upset. You’ll feel immediate relief when you limit your focus to one specific situation. Yet that single moment is guaranteed to encompass all your suffering. Describe the event in a sentence or two.

The next step is to ask yourself, When I was experiencing this event, what thought or thoughts were going through my mind (or could have been going through my mind)?

Write down each thought that comes to mind. You’ll find that it’s much easier to challenge or turn around negative thoughts once you know what they are!

These steps are part of my Mood Switch Method, an easy, 7-step approach for coping with anxiety and stopping negative thinking in its tracks.

Justin, a 12-year old client, used these steps to effectively change his fear and confusion to clarity and confidence in just a few minutes.

Justin’s Story: From “I don’t know,” to “Let’s go!”

 

During one of our sessions, Justin told me that he became very scared when he thought about staying out late with his friends.

When I asked him to tell me more about his fear, he said, “I just freeze up when I think about it. I don’t know what I’m afraid of.”

Using my Mood Switch form, I asked him to think of one specific situation in which he was afraid to go out at night with his friends. On the form, he wrote: I’m afraid to go to the upcoming football game at the high school with my friends.

I then had Justin close his eyes and imagine that he was at the game. I then asked him to write down the specific upsetting thought that was going through his mind when he pictured being at the football game.

On the Mood Switch form, he wrote, I might get separated from my friends and then I might not be able to find the car to get home.

He looked a bit surprised by what he wrote. “I didn’t know that’s what I was afraid of until I wrote it down.”

Once his upsetting thought was written down, it was easy for him to use the Mood Switch form to counteract the upsetting thought. In the “Logical Thought/Helpful Response” column he wrote, I can use my cell phone to call home and get a ride if I need to.

He left my office feeling relieved. That Friday he went to the football game and had fun with his friends.

The Mood Switch helps you defeat anxiety

The next time you’re anxious, identify and write down one specific situation or experience that is upsetting you.

Putting your thoughts on paper will help you uncover the negative thoughts and emotions causing your upset. It will also make it easier to counteract these thoughts with logical, helpful responses.

To learn how to use the Mood Switch Method to uncover and switch off your negative emotions, register for my special teleseminar, called Beyond EFT with the Mood Switch, this coming Thursday at no charge. In just 45 minutes, I’ll give you all the tools you need to take control of your moods and feel excited about your life again.

You’ll no longer feel powerless in the face of anxiety; you’ll be prepared to fight back with some simple steps that will restore calm, control and happiness to your life.

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