Okay, so I don’t know exactly what I’m thinking here. This idea came to me when reading your posts and looking over the different handouts in each session of the audio series…
I’m reading your posts and each of us is at a different point in the therapy. Some are relatively early on, doing the therapy well, understanding and practicing the cognitive, but they also talk about not BELIEVING those statements yet. They talk about trying to stop the ANTs and turning it into a rational, conditional statement - but it’s still hard.
Others have posted about irrational thoughts they used to have and how they now see and feel more strongly how those ANTs were liars, and now they believe in a kind of more rational healthier truth about themselves after doing some amount of the therapy and seeing it in their real life, even if they still struggle with anxiety, but they see and feel the positive change actually happening in their thinking and in their world.
So with that in mind, this is a thread to list what used to be a strong ANT belief about yourself, something you saw as even rational at the time supported by your feelings and whatever evidence you believed in at that time - and then tell us your conditional statment or belief now, how that feeling and belief in yourself has changed into something neutral or even positive backed up by new rational evidence. Hmm, does this make sense? Let’s see if it does.
I hope this might help those who are early in the therapy and still struggling with hope - those whose feelings and beliefs haven’t changed as much as they might like simply because it takes our brains time to get there.
To get this started then, I’ll start with my own example:
1. Old firmly held belief about myself (ANT): It is impossible for me ever to give a presentation of any kind without showing the audience that I will completely melt down and look like a complete idiot in front of them. It’s the worst thing in hell, and I have years of failed and pathetic attempts as proof that this is true. I could never have a job with any sort of presentation quality to it. I hate it, I’m not good at it, and people know that I suck at it because they’ve told me that. Once someone sees me in an anxiety meltdown like that, blushing and freezing up, they’ll know I’m a loser.
2. Current rational beliefs about myself in this situation now: It’s not impossible for me to give a presentation. I’ve done it many times in many different situations. Do I always love presenting? No, but that’s okay, most people don’t love giving presentations. Do I sometimes look forward to giving presentations? Yes, I get excited designing a class which I think will be really fun for my students and I can’t wait to see how it plays out live. It’s almost like a creative performance, teaching - it takes a lot of energy, and in some ways to be a good teacher you do need to be an entertainer too. And I don’t think that’s so bad. I spend a lot of time on my lesson plans not because I’m worried so much anymore, but because I’m kind of excited to find neat songs or videos to play that really make a class which helps the students and leaves them feeling like they had a good time. Also, good teaching is not all about me. It’s more about how I can encourage the student to get excited and to feel confident to learn by their own motivation. Yes, sometimes I get more nervous presenting still. It depends on the situation, but that’s okay. It’s natural, and I can even see it as helping me. You need some energy in a performance, so maybe if I didn’t get a little nervous, I wouldn’t have as much energy to liven up classes. I did have a job giving presentations. I became a teacher. I actually enjoyed it. You wouldn’t think so, but I like the human interaction. I like a job dealing with people, especially more in a group where you can create a lot of fun activities. You develop a bond with your students. One on one is okay, but I just find that a little less fun now. Sometimes I’m sick or feel tired one day and I don’t deliver the best presentations, but that’s okay - that’s normal. Teaching is an up and down job. You always need a break. Sometimes I give great classes which inspire my students to do something at home which I’ve seen posted on social media. I mean, that’s cool! So, some students really dig my classes. And I like them too. We have a lot of fun. I used to control a class, trying to discourage any points which might trigger my anxiety again, but over time I’ve found that I care less and less about that. I don’t exactly know why that happened, maybe just time and practice, or maybe that I just don’t spend time defining myself as a loser, and letting go. I laugh a lot more in classes and I think it’s fun. I laugh when I feel embarrassed and I think that’s normal - it’s normal to poke fun and enjoy embarrassment at things which happen naturally. I make a lot of mistakes in classes, just like a lot of presenters do - because when you’re speaking and performing sometimes the words just don’t come out right or you mispell something on the board, and I love it when my students point it out and make fun of me for it. I love it when the students are joking in class because it means they are enjoying class and becoming more confident. I don’t try to control the class because you need follow where the class goes, within reason, let learning opportunities develop on their own. And, I know there is no such thing as a perfect class or perfect presentation. There are one hundred and one ways to do something, and they all might be great. It just depends! And sometimes when I’m feeling tired and stressed out and not in my best mood, like maybe I’m just not a good teacher anymore - I get feedback from some student that they loved my class, that my class has encouraged them to continue on some path. I never would have thought that. It might come from a student who never even really said anything to me and it’s a complete surprise. I could have never guessed what that student was thinking. (By the way, as evidence - what used to be impossible in my mind and “can’t” and “hate”… well since that time I’ve been in really wacky teaching situations. I’ve taught from kindergarten to university ages. I’ve been asked to lead school assemblies of 2,000 people on a sportsground where I had to do calisthenics and sing “Frere Jacques” - and I don’t speak French, but the students wanted to do that. They all wimped out at the last moment and it ended up I was doing that on my own one clear sunny morning. (I’m not a good singer, and it doesn’t matter!) I’ve taught drama classes and speech classes. SPEECH clases - me, giving advice to students on how to be better presenters! Never would have thought that. I’ve taught cooking classes, and I’ve been asked to dance so many times I can’t count - once in front of an assembly of parents. I will never win any awards for my dancing or singing abilities, but at least the crowd got a good laugh out of it. I did too.) So…
Those old beliefs were limiting ANTs in so many unproven and horrible ways. It took me a LONG time to stop believing in them.
All right! So maybe my example was too long or too boring, and I don’t want to hear my new conditional rational beliefs… I want to hear your examples!! How has the “impossible” changed to “maybe” and more in your lives?
Thanks for your sharing! And share anything big or small. It’s all good!