Words Inspired by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
When you're lost in anxious thought, the words within arm's reach can bring you back to the present moment. Each phrase is crafted using cognitive-behavioral techniques – not toxic positivity – to ground us in the present moment.
Brave the uncomfortable
Anxiety is uncomfortable. We start to sweat, our chest tightens, and we suddenly feel the urge to run in the opposite direction. We try to find relief by either avoiding triggers or pushing the discomfort away. But, when we avoid discomfort, we avoid taking risks, trying new things, and creating positive change for ourselves. We let this discomfort dictate how we live our lives.
When you allow yourself to feel the anxiety, you’ll discover that the discomfort does not last forever. The more you challenge yourself to brave the uncomfortable moments of life, the more willing you will be to take advantage of the opportunities presented to you.
When a thought about the unknown crosses our mind, we can’t help but search for an answer. It’s difficult to surrender ourselves to the discomfort of not knowing. We have to accept that there are some things in life that we do not and might not ever know. When we reject uncertainty we allow ourselves to suffer more than we need to.
Resist seeking the certainty and quick relief that you crave. Instead of pushing the discomfort away, try pushing through it. The more resilience you build, the easier it will be to let go of trying to answer these unanswerable questions. Embrace uncertainty and you’ll start to find comfort in knowing that you don’t need to know everything to live your life in the present moment.
I am separate from my mind
Our minds tend to dwell on thoughts that produce worry or guilt, echoing them over and over until we become attached and mistakenly identify them as the truth. But, when we learn how our brain actually works we discover that our thoughts come and go involuntarily. Just because they exist within our mind, does not mean they hold any meaning outside of it.
Allow the thoughts to enter your awareness, without becoming personally invested. Give them the space to come and go without needing an explanation. When you create some distance, and remember that you are separate from your mind, you’ll notice the urge to decipher every thought will fade, and the desire to live in the present will strengthen.
I let go of what I can't control
Sometimes we feel we have the power to control all areas of our life. When something doesn't go the way we imagined, we do everything in our power to reverse the outcome and extinguish the frustration that comes along with it. We spend time ruminating on things – our health, our future, or the actions of others – that we don't have control over. Let's focus on what we can control: our reactions and behaviors.
Instead of allowing your anxiety to hold you back, choose to move forward and adapt in a world that is constantly changing. Resist your temptation to regain control and free yourself from unnecessary suffering. Let go of what you can't control and grow into the person you want to be in the present moment.
It's okay to feel how I feel
We've been conditioned to think that if we feel unhappy or anxious, we must act quickly to mend the situation. We're often told to "stay positive" or “life’s too short to be sad.” But the truth is, the more we resist those feelings, the more suffering we endure. We heal more deeply when we allow ourselves to truly feel all of our emotions.
Rather than pushing your true feelings aside and pretending that you are okay, give yourself the respect and the space to feel however you feel in that moment. Let your emotions come to the surface. When you accept that it’s okay to feel how you feel, you'll be able to use the clarity to act truer to yourself and your beliefs in the present moment.
My thoughts are passing clouds
When we become overwhelmed with anxiety, our natural response is to quickly find relief by identifying the source and acting accordingly. This natural response hijacks our attention and pulls us away from the present moment. Though we can't remove anxiety completely, we can reduce our suffering.
Imagine observing your thoughts as if they were clouds in the sky. Watch them float by without speculating where they came from or where they are going. When you are able to see your thoughts out of the confines of your mind, you’ll gain the strength to sit with them and the emotions that come with it. When you're feeling stuck in a spiral of anxiety, remember your thoughts are passing clouds.
Listen to wise mind
Oftentimes, we find ourselves in a situation where there may not be a clear answer. Our anxiety warns us about making the “wrong” decision. We tend to either act solely on our emotions, without thinking rationally or we overthink and ignore our emotions altogether. We reach our best decision-making when we access our wise mind: where reasonable mind and emotional mind overlap.
When you find yourself lacking the clarity to make an honest decision, tap into your wise mind – that gut feeling that knows what’s best. Sit with your feelings, no matter how uncomfortable. Notice your thoughts, without attaching yourself to every word. Take what you feel and what you know to inform what you do. Listen to wise mind, it has your best interests at heart.
React without judgement
As human beings, we have a tendency to place judgement on everything we experience, both internally and externally. We judge them as either good or bad, right or wrong and we form our preferences based on those judgements. We cling to the "good" experiences and avoid the "bad" ones. This constant analyzing and evaluating can leave us feeling drained and disappointed.
The first step to practicing non-judgement is to avoid projecting your preferences onto the world. Observe all things – yourself and others – without resistance or attachment. When you learn to appreciate life as it is, instead of how you think it should be, you’ll let go of your desire to control it. When you react without judgement, you’ll feel more free to live in the present moment.
When we embrace anxiety, we can calm anxiety.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy-inspired reminders can teach us to accept – not reject – the scary thoughts & feelings of anxiety. The less afraid we are of being anxious, the less we allow it to pull us away from the present moment.
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We are Lindsay & Emily, two sisters with OCD and anxiety (yes, it runs in the family) who decided it was time to share their journey with the world.
Our goal is to empower those who suffer silently to discover real, effective ways to feel less overwhelmed and removed from the present moment.
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