Today, let’s name our anxiety monster. Mine is Alyssa. It is named after a geeky game warrior who led a rebellion and saved her people – so, a good guy. Try to picture your monster. Maybe it looks like Toby Allen’s representation from the last article. Maybe it looks like a little rainbow unicorn that gets a bit too feisty with its horn. Or a Pikachu or Pokémon if you’re into that. If you’re artistic enough, you can even try and draw it and put a picture up on the wall so you can see it. Why? Because you need to see it. You need to know it is there and that your experience with your monster is not just in your head; more importantly, you need to know that just because it’s a little monster, doesn’t mean it’s evil.
But how can you say that? That little monster gives me chest pain, gives me all these miserable thoughts, makes me feel depressed. How can something like that be good? Well, to be honest… that little monster is trying to save your life. You see, anxiety is caught up in our flight/fight response. When we get faced with a particularly stressful situation, this little guy is responsible for gearing us into either fight gear or flight gear. Unfortunately, anxiety loves its job so much that it tends to go overboard. A little drama queen if you will.
That’s why it’s up to us to tell it that it’s being a drama queen. So… When the rumination starts or when you’re in panic attack mode, go to a quiet place, even if it’s a public bathroom, go into a cubicle and say, “[your monster’s name] now cut it out. This isn’t as life-threatening of a situation as you’re making it out to be. I will be just fine. I’m safe and I can handle my situation perfectly fine on my own without your interference. I know you care, though, so thanks. But you can stop now!”
I see what you’re doing, I know what’s going on. You will then be empowering yourself against it.
Heck, if being angry with the little gremlin helps you, go for it. Rant at it. Write it letters if you can’t speak out loud. The most important thing is that you’re looking your little monster straight in the eye, going: “HA! I see what you’re doing, I know what’s going on.” You will then be empowering yourself against it.
Of course, this will take some time to get used to. I cannot stress enough how important it is that you practice this type of technique as often as possible. The more you practice, the more effective it will become. If your imagination isn’t that good, our next technique will focus more on writing. This technique won’t just be about writing letters, but unpacking the actual thoughts that make you stress. We’ll discuss working with those thoughts in order to empower them yourself against them.