I am on session 4 and I had a complete fail this last two days as I encountered an incident that brought all the ANTs to my mind (the kind that would fill you up with self-doubt, and low self-esteem) and I was so drowned by them. Although I am reading the ANTs handout in slow talk to myself over and over again and it is making total sense to me, and after that incident I went for a run to take my mind off the negative thinking but I failed at stopping any ANTs for one whole day. Then on the second day and after realizing how I was reacting to the situation and after becoming aware of how I should’ve reacted and how that could’ve changed the whole outcome of the situation and consequently my point of view of myself, I got hit by more anxiety for not being successful at the therapy.
I am still not able at letting go of the ANTs and it is affecting my mood and even my ability at seeing other good things in life. I just felt like I wanted reassurance on whether this is normal at this stage, and how would I know if I am on the right track or not?
If you look at the Catch, Label, and Tell Your Brain the Truth handout from Session 3 you will see that the first step is “Notice when you are having automatic negative thoughts or feelings.” Looks like you were able to do this. That in of itself is a success. That is one step forward from what you were doing before the therapy.
Going for a run is also an excellent distraction that will help calm you down and keep your mind off the ANTs. Even if it doesn’t 100% work, it’s a step in the right direction. That is another success.
I like to think of the ANTs as a game. Watch them pop up in my head and then run through the steps of the session 3 handout (or other strategies as you learn them). Sure ANTs will still keep coming, but by simply running through the steps Catch, Stop, Distract, Label, you are actually doing an excellent job of slowly altering your brain to ultimately shrink the ANTs down to where they will have no power anymore.
Thank you very much for the encouragement, I guess I should learn to celebrate the little steps that I am taking a bit more even though I am not getting the peace of mind that I am aspiring to achieve right away.
Reading through the self fulfilling prophecy also was an eye opener. I’ve always felt that I wasn’t reaching my full potential in anything that I did or am doing, and when I read this handout it was as if it was talking to me. I am the obstacle in my own road. It’s such a pity to be distracted by the ANTs and let life slip away without you achieving your goals in life whether it was a career or a family life or long lasting friendships, just because your brain is over consumed by negativity that isn’t even true.
you are not alone.
we who currently suffer from SA are so hard on ourselves… even when we are trying to get better!
Also SA is so horrible and affects our lives so much it is natural we wish we could conquer it immediately… but as the therapy advises the key is to never give up… and that includes when we feel we could have done better… just get back on the horse and keep going.
Another thing I’m trying to learn is not to use the therapy as a whip… just slowly keep at it and try to be patient and persevere… even through setbacks (that’s an upcoming handout/lessons coming up.
Does that make sense.
Had a similar experience during session 2. After some time of feeling better I failed at rationally assessing my anger and behaved very childlike or teenage like with my mother. The reason for that I figured some few seconds later after my anger episode: it was a self-pity. I pitied myself for living with anxiety for so long, and I felt my family members were partially responsible for that. So I spilled my anger and resentment at my mother, who in fact was trying to help. You can imagine the degree of anxiety and self-hate I experienced afterwards. I remember asking God to set me free from my mind and will. I felt I cannot pull this life further. I am on session 4 now and feel lot better. I also believe I am becoming a better person. The person whom I always wanted to be, but some nasty thing without a name always stood on my way.
Also, I am thinking that kindness, towards others and yourself, is one of the catalysts that move us forward. I am resolving to never underestimate kind heartedness. I watched a movie called “Punch Drunk Love” with a main character who has a severe social anxiety, and what movie proves is that the kindness in heart and general openness to love, whether love of a friend or family, or a life-partner, is what keeps us from falling completely into the darkness of fear. I think the love element is important as the absence of it is what indicates one of the states of being with social anxiety. Social anxiety or general anxiety derive their power from our fears, and fears leave no place for love. So it may be assumed that a little love experienced will shift the fear a little bit from our mind, and thus will degrade the anxiety. Just thoughts, feel free to ignore if you feel like they are useless for you.
“I like to think of the ANTs as a game.”
Exactly!! I noticed a long time ago that making a game out of something makes it much easier to learn, even if you’re the only player. I’ve found that extremely helpful as I go through this part of the therapy