Friday, June 22, 2007

Preparing for Countering Negative Self Talk

"You cannot run away from weakness; you must sometime fight it out or perish; and if that be so, why not now, and where you stand?" –Robert Louis Stevenson

Tonight I have a challenge. My new friend Rachel that I have mentioned before has invited us over for dinner and a movie at their new home tonight. I am so excited that she wants to hang out, but part of me is freaking out that she wants us to have dinner together. I’ve decided to go, face my fear, and do whatever feels most comfortable. I have to learn to accept myself the way I am or no one else will ever be able to accept me either. So if I go and I feel sick and can’t eat very much than that’s ok. I will just say so and not force myself. That’s my main goal. I don’t want to push myself because I am worried about offending her cooking. I have to accept that it’s more important for me to be me as opposed to being something I’m not. When I can learn to be comfortable with me, thats when confidence will grow.

It’s going to be hard. I haven’t been in this formal of a situation in awhile. So here’s my game plan/ coping strategies:

  1. Go with positive counterstatements in my head already
  2. Take some Clonozapam before I get there if I am really nervous
  3. Be honest. If I am not feeling good, mention it to Rachel and let her know that I am not feeling well and that its not the food so she will understand and not get offended.
  4. Try to disrupt any negative self talk at the beginning with deep breathing (counting to 4 for each inhale and exhale) or distracting myself by focusing on an object and analyzing it instead.
  5. If I start to panic, I will temporarily leave the situation, maybe go to the restroom or somewhere where I can calm myself down, disrupt the negative self talk with rationalization and with positive counterstatements and then when I feel more in control I will return.
  6. Analyze thoughts later.

I know it’s important to try to disrupt any negative self talk I feel or in other words, learn to counter my anxiety.

Edmund J. Bourne says, “Cultivating the habit of countering is one of the most significant steps you can take in dealing with all kinds of anxiety as well as panic attacks.”

So it’s a little unorganized but I am going to try to sort it all out now so I can recall it later tonight.

Anxious Self Talk:

I am definitely plagued by thoughts of The Worrier when I go to these events. I am almost always thinking “What if people don’t think I am eating enough and they think I have an eating disorder? What if I lose control and throw up?”

I think I am getting better at the caring about whether people think I am too skinny or not. I think my main worry is that I will have a panic attack and feel overwhelmingly embarrassed about being judged if I do and they will never call to hang out again.

Positive Affirmations and Rational Counterstatements:

photo by kinky fantastic

I like the picture above and how it impresses to me that if I am hanging out with someone who is overly critical of me than I shouldn't worry so much about pleasing them and probably shouldn't be hanging out with them at all. If I think about it I know that its in my head and these people are nice and they aren't judging my worthiness to exist, so I shouldn't worry so much about trying to impress them and just enjoy being me. Basically "Don't act like such a doormat, especially when no one's wiping their feet!"

Positive Counterstatement Alert: There’s no need to push myself. I can take as small a step forward as I choose. I can be anxious and still do this. I’ve gotten through it in the past.

Ok so now I will add some rational counter statements to my catastrophic thoughts and images:

“If the worst happened, then…”

If the worst happened, and I threw up at their house and everyone knew it, then I could be honest and explain to them that sometimes I have panic attacks in social situations and they would likely understand. Life would still go on, there is nothing life threatening about it. And no matter what happened, they are still my friends and nice to me.

Okay so I am feeling a little better about tonight. I will be myself no matter what. I am a little excited for the challenge, to see how well I can handle it. However even if things go horrible I won't feel bad because its still a step in the right direction and I will be able to learn from any set back that may come.


Molly said...


Hope it went well last night. I think that your state of mind is a lot more progressed than you give yourself credit for. Your ability to walk yourself through the possibilities of the situation is great and is something that I am just learning to do! My worst problem has always been (my therapist coined this term for me) "awful-izing" every situation to the point that I wish the worst to happen!

I do not go anywhere without my Clonozapam. My favorite doctor told me that I should always be able to hear those pills rattling around in my purse...simply knowing that they are there will calm many more nerves that the fear that is induced if you need one and they are not there.

Take Care

Aimée said...

I know exactly what you mean. There have been a few occasions when I couldn't find my clonozapam which only made me feel more vulnerable and worried. They really are a life saver sometimes. I try to carry them with me everywhere I go.

Thats a funny term, "awful-izing" Its so true tho isn't it?

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