“You can’t think your way into right action, but you can act your way into right thinking”-Bill Wilson
Anxiety can be debilitating. Fear and anxiety can cause significant life problems and leave us left out of some of life’s most rewarding experiences.
Anxiety often looks like:
- That inner critic consistently telling you you’re not enough
- That thought that races through your mind over and over
- That ache in your stomach that doesn’t go away
- That shakiness of your hands and legs
- That avoidance of situations you are uncomfortable in (even when you want to go)
- That voice that tells you something bad will happen
- That urge to run away, hide, or stay in bed
- That constant fear of what will happen next and attempt to control the future
Anxiety can be overwhelming to say the least. The difficult part of dealing with it is the natural response to anxiety is to avoid. If you wait until you feel like dealing it is pretty much a non-starter.
So what do you do then? In we DBT we teach a skill called Opposite Action to help teens handle challenging feelings without making them worse.
How to Use Opposite Action With Anxiety:
Think about what you are worried about
You can start small. Don’t have to overwhelm yourself. Stop avoiding your fears all together. Think about what you are worried about. Think about approaching the situation and how you would do that.
Avoidance of your fears only makes them bigger. Feelings aren’t facts. Our feelings exist for reason, they communicate to others, motivate action, let us know what is happening in our environment. However, sometimes our feelings get it wrong and miscommunicate to us. This is anxiety. It tells us there is something to be afraid of when there isn’t.
So stop avoiding and begin to face your anxiety. This will be hard and uncomfortable. Do it anyway and do it often. Practice. Practice. Practice.
Now that you have begun to face your fears. Do something every day that faces your fears. Here are some examples of opposite action for anxiety:
- If you have social anxiety and withdrawal, then actively reach out to friends
- If you have a fear of failure then try mindfully doing something without judgement (drawing, journaling, etc)
- If you are anxious about going to school then keep going everyday
Opposite Action is a VERY hard and can feel overwhelming and stuck without the support of a professional and others who are going through it. When done right it DOES WORK.
If you or your teen need help learning to manage your anxiety so you can feel calm and at peace, I would be happy to help. You can reach me here to schedule your consultation to discuss best next steps!