At the moment, I’m sick and sluggish with heat exhaustion and feeling just about the opposite of anxious, but I’ve been meaning to write about this particular writing game for a while, so here goes.
Okay, probably you don’t get as anxious as I do. Maybe you never feel like a shivering little purse-dog who’s lost his sweater, but sometimes I do. In my adventures with therapy last year, I learned a writing exercise that really helps me calm anxieties sometimes. Sometimes when I’m doing this exercise, it almost feels like I’m pulling out threads of memory and worry to put into Dumbledore’s pensive, or, I guess, my own. More detail you write down, the more it helps. Write:
Activating event: Whatever thing that happened that got stuck in your head and made you nervous.
Beliefs about that event: I’m always surprised by how many limiting ideas we carry around about ourselves. It is a wonder anyone trusts me with their serotonin, that's for sure. Write down every single negative belief you associate with the activating event.
Consequences: How are the negative beliefs impacting the situation?
Disputation: Go down through the list of beliefs and objectively ask yourself if they are true. Argue with them in detail—this is the part that feels like such a relief.
Energization: In the process of arguing with your negative beliefs, you probably came up with some solutions to the problem. Hooray!
This exercise, done about every month or so, has made me feel at least, I’d say, 20% less urgent. It’s good to have a way to get my thoughts out of the troublesome loops they get in some times.