Tag: worry journal

The Doctor Is Going to Find Something Horribly Wrong with Me: Worry Journal Exercise

The Doctor Is Going to Find Something Horribly Wrong with Me: Worry Journal Exercise

I haven’t had a physical exam in over 7 years. Not because I’m afraid of going to the doctor (even though I am and self-diagnose every chance I get). Or because I was raised to stay away from doctors (even though I was, because the […]

How to Keep a Worry Journal

How to Keep a Worry Journal

I started my worry journal 5 years ago right around the time I was stressing over two life-altering experiences that would have been stressful enough on their own – producing my first play and dating again after a break-up. I worried that I sucked in […]

Odd Woman Out at the BlogHer Conference: Worry Journal Exercise

Odd Woman Out at the BlogHer Conference: Worry Journal Exercise

A few months ago a friend was telling me about a conference she was going to for work.

“I love conferences,” I told her.

That’s a strange thing for me to say, I thought, because I don’t go to conferences.

I do vaguely remember an experience 15 or so years ago that must have been a conference because the selection of memories I have from it doesn’t seem to add up to anything else – hotel; name tag; listening to someone speak in a fluorescent-lit, windowless room; gathering with co-workers at the bar (which is maybe the reason I think I love conferences; I love alcohol).

I’m 6 years sober so there’s no drinking my way through the Los Angeles BlogHer Conference I’m going to in August.

I guess that makes it sound like I don’t want to go, but the truth is, I do. I want to go. And I want to have gone. I just wish I could skip the in-between – actually being there.

There’s no reasoning with social anxiety

The thing is, I’m scared to death I’m going to feel like I usually do in pretty much any social situation…

Like I don’t belong.

BlogHer emailed us a post with tips on how to get the most out of the conference experience. The one I can’t get out of my head is the one I’m dreading the most: walking up and introducing myself to complete strangers.

I get that friends are always strangers first, but there’s no reasoning with social anxiety.

To be fair, BlogHer does suggest getting to know people ahead of time, and I’ve been doing some of that. I joined the Facebook group and I followed a bunch of BlogHer attendees on Twitter. But I’m someone who often finds it hard to start a conversation with a friend I’ve talked to hundreds of times, much less someone with whom I’ve exchanged a tweet or two.

It’s not that I’ll be unfriendly at the conference. Quite the opposite, in fact. I may even come across as confident and outgoing. But what people see doesn’t always reflect what’s going on inside.

Inside I’ll be cringing, scared to death that every word I speak will betray the truth: that I’m not cool enough, or smart enough, or dedicated enough to be there among so many women more accomplished than me.

Situation / Trigger

Going to the BlogHer Conference in August

Negative Thought

I won’t belong.

Anxiety Level

9

Evidence For

I neglect my blog.

I learned this from Shark Tank of all places. Time and again I’ve seen the sharks decline to make an offer because the person standing in front of them wasn’t laser-focused on their business (and I do want this to be a business). I hate that I’m one of those people. I have tons of other writing work that gets a good 90 percent of my working hours. I’m not complaining about the work; it pays my bills. But it’s not my baby – this blog is, where it’s a struggle eking out one post a week.

I’m a bad networker.

Online, I can do okay. In person, I’m a trainwreck. When I’m not trying too hard, I’m not trying hard enough. When I’m not fidgeting my way through awkward silences, I’m asking too many questions. It’s painful, and embarrassing, and I’d really just rather be home (watching Shark Tank).

Evidence Against

I’m volunteering at the conference.

I belong by default, which is kind of the reason I volunteered in the first place. I’m working the registration desk, checking people in and answering questions. I have to talk to people. Honestly, if not for this volunteer opportunity to break the ice, I don’t know that I would be able to make myself go at all.

I want to learn.

About podcasting, and Periscope, and turning a blog into a book. About Pinterest ads, “hyper-local tactics,” and building my email list. BlogHer has sessions on all of that (and lots more).

Now and then, I’m actually comfortable in a social situation.

I played Juliet in college. I wasn’t great. But there was this one night when a few members of the cast came up to me after the show to tell me how good I was in that performance (something none of them had ever done before). It felt good, but it also felt bad; I had no idea what I’d done any differently, so I had no idea how to do it again.

That’s kind of how I feel about the once-in-a-blue-moon social situation in which I feel comfortable. I don’t know what I do any differently, so I don’t know how to replicate it. But now and then it does happen, meaning there’s a chance it could happen at the BlogHer Conference in August. Fingers crossed, it does.

It’s called the BlogHer Conference

As a woman and a blogger, I belong, damn it!

Alternative Thought / Positive Affirmation

I don’t know how I’m going to feel at the BlogHer Conference. All I know is that I’m going to learn something and, as a volunteer, help other women while I’m there.

Anxiety Level

5

Follow Up: 7 Anxiety-Reducing Truths I Was Reminded of at the BlogHer Conference

What’s Worrying You?

Keep your own worry journal and work it through. I picked up this tool in cognitive behavioral therapy. Inevitably, my anxiety level at the end of the exercise is less than it was when I started. I hope it works that way for you, too.

Get the facts about women and anxiety.

I’m Not Doing Enough: Worry Journal Exercise

I’m Not Doing Enough: Worry Journal Exercise

Why should it feel like I’m not doing enough when I’m doing all the time? That’s not true. I’m doing when I have the energy to do. And when I’m not doing, I’m thinking about the doing I wish I could be doing, and planning […]

Nothing I Do Is Good Enough: Worry Journal Exercise

Nothing I Do Is Good Enough: Worry Journal Exercise

It’s a real killer admitting it — that nothing I do is good enough — not because I’m embarrassed by it, but because I try so damn hard. What’s worse is, the harder I try, the more harshly I judge myself when I fall short. It’s […]

How to Create Your Own Positive Affirmations

How to Create Your Own Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations have the power to change your life over time, but that’s not the main reason I use them. I use positive affirmations for the change they make in a moment. When I’m feeling anxious, that moment feels like all there is, so getting to a better place means everything. It’s always a relief being able to work through that anxious thought and discover a positive affirmation (i.e., healthier perspective) on the other side.

The power is in the process

If you’ve seen how I keep my worry journal, you know what I’m talking about.

I start out with high anxiety over a negative thought and end up with an alternative thought – or positive affirmation – that makes me feel better.

Actually, it’s not the positive affirmation itself that does the trick so much as it is the process of getting there. So I encourage you to create your own affirmations. That’s not to say mine, or anyone else’s, can’t be helpful to you, only that the ones you write for yourself will probably be more personal and, in turn, more impactful.

What’s worrying you?

I ask this question at the end of every worry journal exercise, encouraging you to use this same process for turning your negative thoughts into positive affirmations.

Here’s how you do it:

1) Write down the negative thought. It can be a new one specific to something that happened recently, like “I’ll never find a new job.” Or it can be a more general mistaken belief that’s been playing in your head for years, like “I don’t have the power to get what I want.”

2) Write down your anxiety level, on a scale of 1 to 10.

3) Write down “evidence” that the negative thought is true. Be as specific as you can with examples that provide some level of “proof.” For example, “I’ve sent out dozens of resumes and haven’t gotten a single response.” Or, “I can’t bring myself to try new things I want to do.”

4) Write down “evidence” that the negative thought is false. For instance, “Last time I was looking for work, I sent out a hundred resumes before I found a new job.” Or, “I’ve tried lots of new things I wanted to try; at one time, everything was new to me.”

5) Write down what’s more likely. For instance, “Finding a new job is going to take longer than I want it to, but I will eventually find something.” Or, “I have the power to get what I want. I’m just afraid to use it.”

6) Write down an alternative to your original negative thought. This is your positive affirmation. Two important points here: (a) Make sure it’s written in present tense, as though it’s already true; (b) Make sure it’s something you can actually believe in. For instance, “I’m ready to go to work at a new job I love.” Or, “I trust myself with my power.”

7) Write down your anxiety level, on a scale of 1 to 10.

Or try it the other way around

Start with the positive affirmation and work your way through negative thoughts from there.

This is author Shakti Gawain’s preferred approach described in her book, Creative Visualization.

On the front of a piece of paper, write out the affirmation you want to use 10 to 20 times. “Don’t just write it by rote,” says Shakti, “really think about the meaning of the words as you write them.”1

It can be one you make up yourself or one someone else has shared with you. Like one of mine: “I love myself, as is, all the time.” Or one of Shakti’s: “I am the master of my life.”2

Here’s the part where you work through the negatives

As you’re writing out the affirmations, Shakti says to:

“Notice whether you feel any resistance, doubts, or negative thoughts about what you are writing. Whenever you do (even a slight one) turn the paper over, and on the back write out the negative thought, the reason why the affirmation can’t be true, can’t work, or whatever.”3

When you’re done, take a look at all the negatives and let those inform a new affirmation to work with.

Write it, post it, speak it

The more you say and see a positive affirmation, the more good it will do. There’s no one right way to work with it, so try what you’re drawn to and keep doing what feels right for you.

Every day:

  • Write it out, over and over again. Not by rote, as Shakti stresses, but with real mindfulness behind every word. You can use whatever piece of paper is lying around, but I like devoting a notebook to it.
  • Say the affirmation silently to yourself as often as you can remember. In her book, You Can Heal Your Life, author Louise L. Hay recommends trying this technique with “I approve of myself.” “Do this three or four hundred times a day, at least,” says Louise. “No, it’s not too many times. When you are worrying, you go over your problem at least that many times.”4
  • Say the affirmation aloud, looking at yourself in the mirror. (Both Shakti and Louise recommend this approach.)
  • Make art out of it. Cut and paste letters from a magazine, or use colored pencils or paint. Then hang your affirmation some place you spend quiet time every day – where you journal, where you read, where you meditate.
  • Plaster it all over the place. Try a notecard here, a notecard there, using the same affirmation on all of them, or mix it up. It may even be the same affirmation, just worded a little differently each time.
  • Meditate to it. Say it as a mantra silently or listen to a recording of yourself.

Remember the most important part

Work with positive affirmations you can believe in

Otherwise, you’re always going to be inclined to reject in. This not only pushes what you want further away, but makes you feel worse in the process. For instance, if you’re trying to improve your finances, “I’m good with money,” might be more believable than “I’m a millionaire.”

If you take a look at some of my worry journal exercises, you’ll see all of my positive affirmations are believable ones, some bordering on “neutral” versus positive (click the links to see how I got there):

Oh, and make sure it’s in the present tense

You want it now, so word your positive affirmation accordingly.

Changing core beliefs takes time, but you can change negative self-talk today

As I write in Women and Anxiety:

“You may not actively contemplate your core beliefs about the world – or about yourself – but they color your every decision, every experience, and every relationship. Unfortunately, many of these core beliefs, most learned early in life, are dead wrong. And they translate into negative self-talk that poisons your confidence and your goals. Core beliefs like these don’t change overnight. However, the negative self-talk perpetuating these beliefs can change today.”

Positive affirmations are a great way to get there.

Learn more about negative self-talk and anxiety.

I Don’t Look Young Anymore: Worry Journal Exercise

I Don’t Look Young Anymore: Worry Journal Exercise

People have been telling me for a long time that I look young for my age, but that means something a lot different when you’re 35 and look 27 than when you’re 43 and look 38. Besides, who’s to say what 38 looks like when […]

People Think I’m Stupid When I Don’t Know Things: Worry Journal Exercise

People Think I’m Stupid When I Don’t Know Things: Worry Journal Exercise

In most of my conversations, with pretty much anyone, I have to remind myself that honesty matters more than knowledge. It’s just not so easy living that truth when you’re as worried as I am about what other people think. Situation / Trigger Conversation about something I know nothing […]

I Don’t Make Honest Choices: Worry Journal Exercise

I Don’t Make Honest Choices: Worry Journal Exercise

If I want to feel like what I’m doing is important (which I clearly do) I have to be honest with myself about what’s important to me. The question is, can I make honest choices accordingly?

Situation / Trigger

Agreeing to do something I don’t really want to do

Negative Thought

I don’t make honest choices about what’s important to me.

Anxiety Level (1-10)

7

Evidence For

I decide what’s important for me to say or do based on:

  • What other people want me to say or do
  • What I think other people want me to say or do
  • The kind of person I want to think I am
  • The kind of person I want other people to think I am

For instance:

I accept invitations to do things I have no interest in doing because I’m afraid of hurting their feelings or them thinking it’s my social anxiety getting the best of me.

I continue engaging in conversations that I’m ready to end, afraid of coming off as a bitch who doesn’t have enough interest or time for them.

I start books because I should be reading them, not because they’re books I actually want to read. I want to be the kind of person who reads, and has read, the classics (though this is rarely incentive enough for me to actually finish them).

Evidence Against

I don’t always decide what’s important for me to say or do based on how I want to be perceived, by others or myself.

For instance:

Sometimes I decline invitations; the trick is being honest with myself about why: Do I genuinely not want to do it, or is it my social anxiety talking?

I’m getting better at ending conversations. There’s an art to it, I think; I’m still pretty clunky.

I’ve read some of the classics because I wanted to. I’ve also read plenty of books just because I felt like it (thank you, Jackie Collins).

What’s More Likely

I do make honest choices about what’s important to me. I just don’t do it all the time. I’m too afraid of an honest choice letting someone down, myself included, as though there is something wrong with the truth.

Alternative Thought / Positive Affirmation

What’s right for me is right.

Anxiety Level (1-10)

3

What’s Worrying You?

Keep your own worry journal and work it through. I picked up this tool in cognitive behavioral therapy. Inevitably, my anxiety level at the end of the exercise is less than it was when I started. I hope it works that way for you, too.

I Don’t Have the Power to Get What I Want: Worry Journal Exercise

I Don’t Have the Power to Get What I Want: Worry Journal Exercise

Despite all the lengths I go to trying to empower myself, I feel like I’m falling short much of the time. Granted, I burn myself out using my power to protect my power, but does it go deeper than that? Could it be the power […]

I Won’t Be Loved If I’m Not Perfect: Worry Journal Exercise

I Won’t Be Loved If I’m Not Perfect: Worry Journal Exercise

When you associate perfection with love, it becomes your end goal – the perfection part, I mean. And that’s a losing battle for reasons we all know: We aren’t perfect, and we never will be. I’m tired of chasing a purpose that’s so misguided, and […]