The Thrive ‘lightbulb' moment that changed Brian’s beliefs!
Gender: Male Age group: 40-50 years
Brian's* opening comment when he first contacted me was “I want to know the art of controlling anxiety!”
Brian is a happily married man with a young child. Over 20 years ago, he experienced his first panic attack.
During the past 20 years, he's not discussed his anxiety with a health professional. He recognised his thinking was very "inward" and he knew this inward thinking wasn't going to resolve his anxiety.
A week before our first meeting he said he felt terrible. He said "constant doubt and worry brings on his anxiety".
Brian's limiting beliefs included:
- I believe I'm an over-thinker
- I believe I'm not very patient
- I believe small things upset me
- I believe I can't rely on anyone
Sleeping had also become an issue. He'd started listening to soothing music before going to sleep to see if that would help. He believed he'd always had a very over-active mind. But right now Brian had a "fear of the future".
Brian said he had trouble retaining information he reads because his mind is so active all the time.
During The Thrive Programme, participants do need to not only read the Thrive theory but to study it, understand it, and retain it. Taking into consideration Brian's very active mind, I broke the study modules into smaller components. I also went back over theory we'd previously covered, regularly throughout the programme.
Our sessions began face-to-face but shifted to internet-based for efficiency. I find there is minimal difference between a face-to-face session and a live "internet-based" one. Brian felt the same! The interpersonal communication/connection is 99% as good over the internet for these sessions.
We met weekly for an hour for eight weeks. In between sessions, Brian had exercises to complete that corresponded with the theory he was learning. Some of the exercises could be woven into his day, other exercises required some time to be carved out to complete.
For Brian, recognising his own personal and professional achievements was central to reducing anxiety. In other words, he was a very competent and capable person but he simply wasn't processing thoughts and experiences to support this. His perfectionist and black & white thinking style meant he was instead processing what he'd not achieved rather than what he had achieved.
He was still worried about sleep as his dreams could be unpleasant. We discussed that the more his limiting beliefs shifted to instead being empowering, the more his sleep wouldn't be disturbed by these anxious thoughts/dreams.
What was resolved?
Brian learnt why and how he held the beliefs and thinking styles he did. Most importantly, he learnt how he could change the beliefs that were limiting him and creating his anxiety. He started to challenge them immediately - with immediate effect.
His language changed too so instead of saying things like "I lose my patience easily" he could change it to "I can manage my emotions". Instead of "I never get enough done in a day" he could change it to "I'm proud of what I've achieved today".
Changing Brian's language, helped to change his beliefs.
We uncovered Brian's unhelpful thinking styles including perfectionism, brooding, and black & white. When his anxiety kicked-in, these thinking styles were keeping Brian's anxiety high. Armed with this self-insight, he was able to detect these thoughts, and either change them or bin them.
Sleeping was no longer an issue for Brian as anxious thoughts disappeared. He felt more powerful, confident, and calm.
"A light bulb moment!" is what Brian said around session six.
All the theory we'd be working through, so he understood "why" and "how" he was creating anxiety, suddenly locked into place. It became very clear what he had been doing and what he had to continue to do to stop creating it.
Since starting The Thrive Programme he hasn't had a panic attack. We had his 3 month check-in recently.
Brian said he's "very positive, shutting down any unhelpful thoughts easily, and feeling calm all the time." He said his focus has been on positivity, perspective, and coping/tolerating.
*Not client's real name