My mind goes on a rollercoaster ride and it irritates me often but similar to those who annoy us, the result depends on our reaction in the moment. I’ve found myself dealing with the warped perspective of my inner thoughts lately. Disney wasn’t far off when they developed the characters for Inside Out. It can be a back-and-forth war between the optimism, anger, sadness, and the anxiety of what’s in front of you. Anxiety has troubled me more than anything else and it has taken me to a mixture of itself and my depression as if they’ve developed an almost flawless gradient. It may be a saving grace to discuss this part of my mental health like this. Not allowing anxiety to have the privacy it thinks it deserves may just end up helping me more than I realize.

My Anxiety & Me: Reframing
Art by Britt Bender

Reframing Anxious Thoughts

Often in discussions with my therapist, we’ll touch on the importance in reframing perspectives develop from anxious thoughts. For example, I can often find myself thinking this way lately:

There’s going to be nothing to do. Your future looks boring and the progress isn’t there. And when you do have the energy or the uplifting will to get it done, how long will that truly last? It won’t last and your ability to progress is declining.

WOW, first off what a party pooper and asshole thing to say. It can feel incredibly hurtful when I think these things, because they come from within and are harder to deem untrue. Learning what needs to be reframed can end up feeling as if it’ll always be a draining and exhausting process. It’ll be that way sometimes, but in many ways it feels like a weight off my shoulders when I grab on and accept the reframed way of thinking. Turning the above statements around can sound like:

There’s plenty of things ahead of you and if not, that’s ok. What would make my future boring? And how do we deem that to be true? We have no solid evidence for that. Good for you for getting done what you’re able to and like many people you are human and deserve rest. Rest isn’t lazy or boring. The definition of progress is different for everyone, it won’t fit you like it would for someone else.

If you notice, a lot of that contains moments where neutrality becomes your best friend against anxiety. Starting at that neutral place becomes one of the biggest lifelines you can have. Going immediately to some overzealous and toxic positive framing can be hurtful. Thinking in a way that doesn’t assume an answer to your anxieties right away has been important for me. When the anxious thoughts arrive, they run at me within seconds and can cause a lot of physical symptoms. When something like that happens for me it can feel terrifying and my higher heart rate doesn’t help the situation.

I’ve been working on finding those pockets of progressive thinking and hopeful moments of optimistic perspective. When I do find them, I often work hard to make them stick but it hasn’t worked when I’ve gone from such a negative to such a positive. It can be just as terrifying to the mind to jump that far without at least one step between it all. Perspective can end up being designed by reframing. I’m either taking one long jump that likely won’t land in true optimism OR I give myself a moment to breath as I am guided to a longtime sense of hope. I hope as the days come along, I end up doing more of the later for myself.

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