The following is a method of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that I like to call “The Fish Tank”. It is a modified and more extensive version of several anxiety-management techniques I was taught by psychologists over many years. I’ve had great success with it, and figured that I should finally write this down to share with others suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder( GAD ), Panic Disorder, and, to some extent, OCD.
( I’ve helped personal friends and random Redditors with this technique and they told me I ought to share !)
Remember that learning any kind of CBT is something that takes a while to master– you shouldn’t expect to get results over night, and you certainly should not be upset with yourself if you don’t seem good at this right away. Efficacy of any technique varies from person to person, so you may assure some small improvement right away, or it may take you months before you notice much. That’s okay– keep practise. All you have to do to be successful at this is try. If you do that, you should consider ever day a success.
NOTE: This only encompasses up to step one! I’m still in the process of writing steps 2-4
From someone who’s been there, said and done, I know you can do this! I actually hope this helps.
[ Preface: Know Your Fish Tank .]
Think of your intellect like a big room containing on one side a large window, and on the other side, a fish tank. The window lets you see and think about the things that are right in front of you, while the fish tank homes all of your worries and negative guess. There is one fish for for each fret or bad thought. When we feel anxious, it’s hard to look out the window, because our fish are making a huge ruckus. The fish are flipping out, splashing you, trying to get you to pay attention and feed them, and you can’t assistance but watch.
And when they actually get to you, and you HAVE to do SOMETHING, you feed them. Feeding them is what you do in their own lives in a rush to alleviate the nervousnes. For some people that may entail checking the stove a dozen hours, staying home from a social situation, or discontinuing a task/ school. Whatever negative thing you DO, that’s feeding them.
Feeding the fish, of course, provides some temporary relief. We feel a little better, but that doesn’t last. Every hour you feed the fish, the fish get bigger and eventually wants even MORE. You become used to the idea that if you feed the fish, you get some relief … and a vicious cycle is born.
But when you have such active, riling, angry fish, It’s merely too hard to turn around and look out that window very often, if at all. You can’t help but at least LOOK at the fish. This is anxiety: when we focus on the fish, and not the window. And you know what? It’s okay for you to look at your fish. It’s okay if you don’t feel like you can ignore them. You will learn, eventually.
First, though, there are some things about fish tanks you should know 😛 TAGEND
1) Everyone has a fish tank. Literally everyone. And everyone lookings and everyone feeds on occasion. Some more than others.
2) Fish come and go. Some of them die off after a while, some of them reproduce and make new fish, and sometimes a new one hops in the tank from apparently nowhere. That’s life.
3) And most importantly, the fish are TRAINABLE. If you develop your fish well, they will end up being a very helpful part of your psyche. Again, more on that later.
[ Step one: Watch Your Fish .]
I know how badly you want to ignore them, get your intellect off of them, and look away from the tank. If you have a moment of soothe, then by all means loved it. But when your fish begin splashing again( when you feel anxious ), just watch the tank.
Visualize every worry that goes through your head as a fish. You can think up its colouring and shape if that helps. Watch it swim by, and if it’s hurling a tantrum, let it. Acknowledge your fish( fret, negative emotion) calmly. Recognize that it’s swimming around, doing its thing, and that’s what it does. The fish believe they are doing their task.( Remember, your fish are useful things when trained properly !) The fish aresupposed to be there. They are just being fussy.
Don’t fret if you feel anxious watching and recognise your fish. That’s perfectly natural. Just say to yourself “Oh, that’s a silly fish( thought) I merely had. Okay.”
Say that to all of the fish that pass in front of you, and try to keep calm. It’s important that you try very hard not to give in and feed them. Instead, do something you know calm you down. Take a prescription drug( vallium or clonazepam, for example) to help. If you don’t have a prescription, you can take two benadryl– it has a similar effect. Take some time to colouring. Have a sleep. Run for a walking. Seem at something you find beautiful.
And when they splashing you and you feel that pang go across your chest, KNOW that it is okay. YOU are okay. Acknowledge your fish( feelings, guess, worries) and, as before, say to yourself that it’s silly. The more you tell yourself that they are silly and are nothing to be concerned about, to more you will begin to believe it, and the truer it will become.
Practice watching your fish tank any time you feel anxious or have a negative thought/ emotion intersect your intellect. With all of this, the goal is just to try. If you do that, consider it a success, even if it doesn’t go well. You’re practising. You’re learning. You’re doing well.
Steps 2-4 will follow if feedback is positive
Till then, good luck! <3
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