Dealing with Inaccurate Self-Beliefs #1: Identifying the Trigger
When you begin to have those inaccurate self-beliefs, does it seem as if your thinking speeds up? Your thoughts begin to cascade, one after the other, until you are caught up, spinning in a negative thinking cycle that overwhelms you. This is caused by whatever triggers your anxiety, such as:
- Thinking that an object is unclean or contanminated (like a doorknob).
- Believing that your safety is at risk (as with a fear of flying).
- Being afraid to leave your home because of a perceived danger.
- Feeling trapped and needing to escape crowds of people.
- Assuming that others (classmates, co-workers, etc.) are judging you.
The first step in dealing with inaccurate self-beliefs is identifying those beliefs. Take a hard, objective look at these thoughts when you are calm to get a real sense of what’s going on.
Dealing with Inaccurate Self-Beliefs #2: Slow Down
- Use mindfulness skills to relax, refocus, and stay calm.
- Step away from the trigger by removing yourself from the situation.
- Walk or do some other physical activity to refocus expend the energy.
Slowing down before your brain spirals out of control allows you to address your inaccurate self-beliefs with more clarity.
Dealing with Inaccurate Self-Beliefs #3: Question Your Beliefs
That sounds really hard to do, but you can ask yourself some simple questions. For example:
- Why am I thinking/feeling this way?
- Am I really in danger or at risk from the trigger?
- How will my thinking affect me (inconveniencing, stress, etc.)?
- What is something different that I can do?
It’s important to note that it’s easier to go through this process when you are experiencing lower levels of anxiety. That’s why step #2 is so important as it lays the groundwork for step #3.
Dealing with Inaccurate Self-Beliefs #4: Give Yourself Reminders
If you are feeling calm and focused, take a moment to jot down positive reminders. For example:
- Remember that you are a capable person.
- Remind yourself that you are loved and cared for by others.
- Recall your previous successes in life (name a few examples).
- Remain encouraged by the idea that this anxiety will pass.
- Remember that inaccurate self-beliefs don’t define you as a person.
This way, when you do begin to experience anxiety and negative self-beliefs, you already have reminders on hand. They will keep you grounded and prevent your thinking from spiraling out of control.
Dealing with Inaccurate Self-Beliefs #5: Get Some Validation
Validation goes a long way towards addressing the negative thinking associated with inaccurate self-beliefs. You might seek validation in the following way:
- Talking with a trusted friend or family member.
- Joining a self-help or discussion group that deals with anxiety.
- Activity in organizations or groups where you know you are accepted.
- Talking with a counselor or therapist who will help put things in perspective and keep you grounded.
Inaccurate self-beliefs can have a profound effect on how we perceive ourselves. Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way! By following these simple steps and working with a therapist who understands anxiety, you can change that negative, inaccurate inner narrative into one that is positive and affirming. You can do this!