Thought challenging is one of the most popular techniques used in CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) to help you overcome anxiety.
I hate it when you go to the doctor and you tell them you have been dealing with panic attacks and they just brush it off and say, “Oh yeah, it’s just an anxiety disorder, nbd. Here’s a prescription.” (to be honest I have taken medication occasionally, but I did not want to be dependent on it). A lot of people think anxiety and panic attacks are permanent – a life sentence. That is probably because it is labeled as a disorder, which makes you think it is something that you are stuck with. However, I have read many success stories and spoke with people that no longer have it.
Right now, you may be stuck in the loop of weird, negative thoughts accompanied by panic attacks. I have been through this cycle myself a few times.
How do we break this cycle?!?
The first time I heard of this was in therapy. At first, I had very little faith in it, although that was when I thought I was the only one having these awful, extremely exhausting symptoms. You may be feeling skeptical right now too, especially if you have been going through this a while. My initial thought was, what if this doesn’t work? Followed by, what if this keeps happening? Which created more panic.
I am here to tell you that thought challenging works! I have stopped so many panic attacks just by challenging my negative thoughts.
Here is HOW.
Step 1 – Analyze your thoughts.
What thought made your heart beat faster? We need to figure out that very first thought that started it all. If it’s easier, work your way back from your most recent thought. Write them all down.
Step 2 – Is it a fact or an assumption?
Are you anxious about something that you know to be true or something that you are afraid might happen? Is the fear logical? Write it down. This helps you to understand that most of the thoughts are hypothetical scenarios that will most likely never happen.
Step 3 – Challenge each thought you wrote down.
If your thought was something like, “I am going to mess up my presentation at work”.
Change it to something positive, “I am fully prepared for my presentation and will keep practicing to boost my confidence.”
Step 4 – Repeat.
Every time a negative thought pops in your head, write it down and challenge it. This is going to re-wire your brain to positive thinking! Soon enough, you won’t need to write your thoughts down, you can challenge them in your head. Don’t be discouraged if it is taking longer than expected to work. Your mind is a tricky thing, but if you keep challenging those thoughts then you WILL see results.
Comment below if you have had a good experience with thought challenging!