Anxiety... tools and theory

ABC...is a simple exercise which stops us being held prisoner by our own thoughts. I frequently hear clients saying ‘someone is making me anxious, or something is making me anxious’. This is a very common way of expressing ourselves, but the short-hand expression often distorts the situation we’re attempting to describe.

Anxiety is driven by our thoughts, so a  better way of looking after ourselves is to say ‘I notice that I am having the thought...’. In this way the thought is identified as separate from the incident or the person.

This new way of looking at our thoughts makes the responsibility for the anxiety ours, not theirs. This may sound strange at first, but owning our anxiety and frustration works. It removes distortion and it introduces choice.

One choice worth considering is a simple technique called ABC. I know I have written about this technique often but it is a slick little tool, worth mentioning again and again. ABC is one of the most efficient anxiety management techniques. It distracts and interrupts anxiety producing thoughts. It introduces our senses into the situation ,brings us back to the present and gives us back control and power.

A = Anchor - plant your feet firmly on the ground, physically or metaphorically.

B = Breath - put your tongue to the roof of your mouth and take a long deep breath.      

C = Connect - and name silently or out loud, five things you can see.

ABC. It’s the missing part of the puzzle. The crucial part! Because it’s how we think that causes our anxiety. ABC gives us the time and space and choice to handle ourselves in a different way. It presses the pause button. It allows us to function in the present which is the only place we have any power.

How much easier life would be if we were to make that choice?

It may be worthwhile mentioning here that when we don’t make choices, that in itself, is a choice?

ABC is a tool, not just a theory. Success depends on making it part of the way you function. But like all new skills, it needs to be practised, after all, you wouldn’t expect to drive a car or ride a bike by just reading about it.

Get into the ABC habit, practise it regularly and you could find that making that choice makes you think, act, and feel a whole lot better.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Yvonne Fitzpatrick-Grimes MBACP Psychotherapist

I'm Yvonne, an experienced counsellor and psychotherapist with a solid academic background in psychotherapy. From a wealth of experience I will help you make informed choices about what you want to achieve, in a way that honours who you are and what you have to offer.… Read more

Written by Yvonne Fitzpatrick-Grimes MBACP Psychotherapist

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