I have suffered from anxiety disorders for as long as I can remember. Panic attacks, intense fear and stomach-churning tension is more normal to me than I care to admit. With a lot of trial and error I am able to cope with my anxiety disorders and overcome in order to live a full, enriching life despite the emotions. Through hard work and self-exploration I have been able to find a way to control the emotions, instead of letting them control me. One of my most effective, but difficult to master, coping skills has been stopping the negative tapes in my head.
What are Negative Tapes?
Negative Tapes is the term I use for those anxiety-ridden thoughts that you cannot shake during a time of heightened anxiety. Think of it like a song that is stuck on repeat. Everyone I have talked to with anxiety understands these pervasive thoughts and feelings that cause anxiety. The words could induce fear like, Did I leave the stove on? Or be negative words against yourself personally like, You were so stupid to actually say that to him. Or any other thoughts that contribute to your anxious state of mind.
Acknowledge Your Tapes
The first step is to acknowledge what your negative tapes are. Those thought patterns that repeat themselves over and over again in your life. Usually, there is a situational trigger of some nature that brings the tapes to life. It was more difficult than I realized to identify the negativity that was holding me back. When the process started, however, it was a bit overwhelming. A new negative tape emerged telling myself that I could not do it!
Counteract Your Tapes
After recognizing these thoughts and feelings, it is time to counteract them! One of my worst mental tapes was driving in traffic. It would send me into a complete panic meltdown. They are going to hit you would play over and over again in my head. To counteract this, I would take a deep breath when the mental message would start and firmly say, out loud when possible, I am safe and will arrive safely. Using this reassurance helped to calm my nerves and counteract the negative messages.
Acknowledge Your Progress
Every once and a while, sit down and examine your progress in overcoming your mental tapes. The baby steps will add up making more progress than you realize. It takes effort, but every move is one step closer to overcoming anxiety and being able to live a more normal, happier life.