Miriam now speaks of her healing journey. I am challenging my fears. I believe in them less! There is still anxiety because part of me still thinks What If? Slowly I heal.
The way that I am challenging fears is to use the forms that I have at my disposal to help me analyze my fears, rate them, analyze my belief in the, use positive counter statements and rate the belief in these positive counter statements.
I am using the Name Your Fear form and a new one called Record of Dysfunctional Thoughts found on page 216 of The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne.
First I rated my fears in the following way for the general fear of going out:
Fear rating Is it real?
- water flowers outside 3/10 Maybe?
- go for a short drive 5/10 No
- go for a long drive 6/10 No
- give someone you love a ride 7/10 Maybe?
- go shopping 9/10 Maybe?
I gave someone I love a ride and I went shopping. I’ve simplified my fears a little but the anxiety was real!
Then I used a Facing Your Fear form (shown below). For the fear of giving someone I love a ride I rated it as a fear of 8/10 at the moment even though while I was just writing about it I would have rated it a 7/10. The time to test this fear lasted a half hour. I was not as scared coming home because I thought to myself that they’re not interested in me. This positive rational thought helped me to be less anxious! I even stopped at McDonald’s on the way home! So I feared less.
Then I used the Record of Dysfunctional Thoughts and rated the fear I felt as an 8/10 (they use 100 but I’m using 10). The automatic thought was they are going to get the person I love and my belief was an 8/10. The positive rational thought was that they’re not interested in me. This I rated as a 3.5/10. The belief in the initial fear thought was changed to a 7/10 because of this positive rational thought. The feeling after was one of relief that I believed in at a rating of 5/10. So I still fear and I still believe that they are after me but the more I go out and see no positive reinforcement of that fear, the less I fear! I did mindfulness while I was driving trying to relax my fear.
Another fear was to go out shopping. I rated this fear as a 9/10. The positive counter statement to this fear again is that they are not interested in you. I called the Crisis Line last week and they helped me with my anxiety and the fear that organized crime was after me. Firstly I am not rich and secondly I am not involved in crime or drugs. The probability then that they are after me is low. So the question is, is this fear real? Is it true? I would rate it as 6/10 as being true. I still have to face my fears and go out to see if people are interested in me! Only time will tell.
The Facing Fears Form rated the fear as a 9/10 and lasted 1.25 hours. Only one person looked my way and might have been watching me. I feared less on the way home. If no one had looked my way I would have been more confident. I had never seen the person before. I would rate my fear of going out shopping now as an 8/10.
The Record of Dysfunctional Thoughts rated the fear as 9/10 with the automatic thought that they are going to get you and a belief of 9/10. The positive rational response was that they are not interested in you and the belief in that was rated as 3.5/10. The initial automatic response to the fear was rated as 8/10 after that. And the feeling of relief was 6/10.
So analyzing my fear to see if it’s real or true is helping me. When I go out I look for evidence that I am being followed. As I progress, I think that I will see no evidence and fear less. My inner instinct is to be cautious because I always ask myself What If? What if they are after me and find and identify my family who I love? Let alone myself? So I have to be smart and safe to keep my family from harm! I have to wait and make sure that I am not being followed and the only way to do this is to go out and test it!
My next step is to go shopping again. I will observe and be very careful. My life might depend on it. I’ll keep you posted!
I phoned my counselor and talked for the first time, freely, about my fears. She was very helpful. She helped me talk about my anxiety and helped me to express my fears. She agreed that organized crime was probably not after me! I’ll have to wait and see. She also suggested that I draw/paint a shield of courage for myself. I have no idea what that would be but that’s my task for today. I will sketch a shield of courage and then paint one! Until next time…