Abstinence Symptom Inventory
Stress is a normal part of life, but unresolved, unmanaged, or unacknowledged stress can escalate into chronic anxiety. Ongoing unrelenting anxiety begs for relief from what you have used in the past to feel better.
- Is emotional or physical pain causing anxiety?
- Are you living with anxiety that is created by doubts about yourself?
- Do you experience anxiety because you do not set limits for yourself and try to ‘do it all’?
- Is your anxiety due to your belief that you must live up to the unrealistic expectations of others?
- What else is causing you to have high anxiety?
An effective way of relieving anxiety is by applying the Serenity Prayer to your life:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
These words can be very powerful if you make them a way of life. They remind you to look for solutions to stressful situations that you can change and stop using up your energy on things you can’t do anything about. Some people use these words as a kind of mantra to help them take action when they need to and to accept reality as it is when it can’t be changed. (If the word ‘God’ here bothers you in any way, remember that this is a god of your understanding. You can substitute another word such as ‘higher power’ or whatever is meaningful to you.) Many of the tools outlined in How to Quit Without Feeling S**t – yoga, meditation, relaxation exercises, massage or physical exercises – will help to reduce your anxiety as well.
Self-talk is a normal, healthy process of conversing with ourselves in words or pictures. Whereas normal self-talk helps us to solve problems, self-defeating self-talk (negative self-talk) reduces the ability to solve problems. What does your self-talk tell you about what you are avoiding and how you are doing it?
- Do you tell yourself that you can’t do anything right?
- Do you tell yourself that you don’t need help when you do?
- Do you call yourself dumb, incompetent, a failure or unlovable?
- In what situations do you give yourself these messages?
Changing Self-Defeating Self-Talk
To begin to change negative self-talk, start listening for self-defeating messages you give yourself. Then begin to say ‘stop’ either out loud or in your mind every time you hear yourself saying self-defeating things to yourself. Analyse what you are saying to determine what might be behind these messages. Finally, substitute a more accurate message for the self-defeating one.
We tend to act as we think – we tend to be what we tell ourselves we are. Self-defeating thinking turns into self-defeating behaviour. We tend to avoid situations that we think will expose what we think of ourselves. If we tell ourselves that we are dumb, we avoid situations in which someone else might find out. And by doing so, we deprive ourselves of new opportunities or stimulating activities.
- Are you betraying yourself by not being who you are or not standing up for what you believe in?
- Are you stuck in a rut and avoiding a new challenge to give meaning to life?
- Do you quit when you make a mistake in order to avoid failure?
- Because of low opinions of yourself, do you avoid social situations that could be fun or stimulating for you?
- Do you brood instead of doing something about an unacceptable situation?
Changing Self-Defeating Behaviour
When you identify what you are doing that is self-defeating, make a plan for doing something different. Tell someone else what your plans are and ask them to support you as you make these difficult changes.
Feeling Powerless and Hopeless
When you feel your situation is hopeless and that you are powerless to change it, you will probably avoid any attempt to do so and therefore become a victim.
- Are you bored or unfulfilled in your work?
- Do you feel trapped by your marriage or other relationships?
- Do you feel that you are a victim of your addiction?
- Do you feel deprived of any way to feel good or relieve your pain because you can no longer use your mood-altering substance?
- Are you drowning in your sorrows?
- Are you overwhelmed by all the things you need to do to regain your health?
- Do you avoid responsibility for your situation by blaming others?
Changing Feeling Powerless and Hopeless
When you feel powerless to change anything, it helps to make a list of all the options you can think of, even ones that seem absurd at first. Talk to someone to help you sort out what are realistic options and make a commitment to change what you have the power to change.
Conflicts with yourself, others and the world can arise from the depression and anger of feeling hopeless.
- Is your depression really accumulated anger about your situation?
- Are you avoiding the real reasons for your situation by projecting your anger onto other people?
- Are you avoiding conflict by ‘playing the game’ that everything is all right?
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