Through therapy and conversation with others, I realized that I put too much workload on myself. The problem, I realized, was that I never felt I could say no when asked me to do something. I was over committing myself and burning myself out. The solution was simple: start saying no. As simple as it seemed, it was harder to actually do it. My therapist helped focus me on solving this problem. I sat down to think about what would make it easier for me to say no to people without feeling bad or to at least remind myself to say no instead of automatically saying yes. After a few days of trying to say no and thinking how to make it easier on myself I finally found a way. For two weeks the beginning of the day I would write the word “NO” on the back of my hand. This kick-started me actually saying it to people in my life. While this is a life-long issue to work on, I feel empowered and that I’m taking control of my life.
Therapy techniques can seem weird. They are usually named weird names. However I’ve learned that therapy techniques can be turned into fun activities that can get me past the hump of starting to change my behavior. The term “cognitive rehearsal” is a term used for the therapist and patient practicing situations that could be difficult so the patient is better equipped in the actual
situation. I like to call this technique play acting. I always find this technique hard to keep a straight face while doing it. I usually start with doing completely off the top situations with a doll to get the giggles out of the way. When I feel prepared I then start practicing face to face with my therapist. This technique works for me in part because I’ve always loved acting.
“Thought stopping” was another technique that I learned via therapy to help with my anxiety.Thought stopping is a technique that when you feel yourself having unwanted thoughts, you find some way to interrupt the sequence of events that runs around in your head. Each time I realized I was starting to have anxious thoughts I would start singing either MC Hammer’s You Can’t Touch This, Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby, or the Supremes’ Stop In the Name of Love. Sometimes if I’m in my office alone you might catch me singing one of these songs and doing the dance that goes with the song. It’s difficult to have an anxious thought when you’re singing and dancing.
As hard as therapy can be, if you find a technique that you can make your own and have fun, then you get better. I’ve gone from thinking that I’d never would stop therapy to knowing that I might sometimes need to learn a new technique to be healthy mentally. Have fun while doing practicing your techniques! Learning is not easy but it can work for you if you look for ways to have fun with it.