Welcome back to another episode of Your Anxiety Toolkit Podcast. Today I want to talk about a concept that is really important to long-term recovery or just life in general, which is this question: Does this bring me closer to my long term goals?
Now, human beings are very reactionary. When there is an event, we quickly do a little data check in our brain. Is it safe? Can we proceed? Should we run away? Should we freeze? Should we just freak out? We have the whole process that happens in a millisecond, and then we respond. Now the fight-flight-freeze system of the brain keeps us alive. It’s a reaction we have to danger. So if there is a lion, we know to either freeze, run away or fight it. For those with an anxiety disorder, we often go into the fight-flight-freeze when there isn’t any real danger. The more we react, the more we enforce our fears and the more that we get stuck in a cycle of reaction.
One of the most helpful things in life for me has been to step back and look at the cycle, look at the trends and ask myself, does this behavior, does this reaction bring me closer to my long term goals? If you can, just practice slowing down and pausing and saying to yourself “Wait a second. Is there a trend in my reaction?”
I often say to my clients that my job is pretty simple. My job is to help you find the trends, find the patterns. If there is a pattern of reaction, that is where I intervene. I want you to be able to look at the patterns and the trends, and then decide for yourself what is good for you. We cannot live just in reaction because that is when we get stuck.
So I want you to try asking yourself "Does this behavior bring me closer to my long term goals?" Remember to be gentle with yourselves and give yourselves a huge amount of self-compassion.
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Transcript Ep. 177
Welcome to Your Anxiety Toolkit. I’m your host, Kimberley Quinlan. This podcast is fueled by three main goals. The first goal is to provide you with some extra tools to help you manage your anxiety. Second goal, to inspire you. Anxiety doesn’t get to decide how you live your life. And number three, and I leave the best for last, is to provide you with one big, fat virtual hug, because experiencing anxiety ain’t easy. If that sounds good to you, let’s go.
Welcome back, friends. I am so happy to have you with me. How are you doing? How are you all? Sending you so much love. Checking in with you. Hey, how are you doing friend? Number one, thank you for being my friends. It really, really is wonderful.
Up to this point, let me just reflect on something really quick. When I first started creating the podcast, I would look at the microphone and just talk into the abyss. Just talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, say what I want to say, and get done. The cool thing is I was just reflecting on this before.
Now that I have met quite a few of you at either conferences or events or on social media or on the Facebook group, which is CBT School Campus, you can go to it’s a private group, and I know your faces, now I have this wonderful experience where I can look into the microphone and actually see your faces. It’s been so fun to actually meet you guys and just be like, “Oh great.” I know I have another face.
Hello, welcome. Thank you for being here. I know your time is so precious and I’m so grateful that I get to spend this time of yours together. Let’s get straight to the episode.
In the last few episodes, these are building on each other. We talked about self-compassion. Last week, I talked about the lies we tell ourselves which, PS, was a really hard conversation. Ain’t going to lie. I hope that was a safe, healthy conversation. If you didn’t hear it, go back because it was me sharing my own experience of telling lies to myself and to my family, and really just breaking down the judgment around that. So, go back and listen. And me sharing with my family and with you guys about how I’m going to change.
Now today, I want to talk about a concept that is really, really important to long-term recovery in or just life in general, which is this question: Does this bring me closer to my long-term goals?
Now, human beings are very reactionary. This is why we have survived for millions of years. When there is an event, we quickly do a little data check in our brain. Is it safe? Can we proceed? Should we run away? Should we freeze? Should we just freak out? We have the whole process that happens in a millisecond, and then we respond.
Now the fight-flight-freeze system of the brain, we call it the FFF response, is a part that keeps us alive. It’s a reaction we have to danger. So if there is a lion, we know to either freeze, run away or fight it. We instinctively know this. But what happens is, if we have an anxiety disorder or little glitchy in the brain, often what we do is we go into the fight-flight-freeze when there isn’t danger and we’re in reaction. And the more we’re in reaction, the more we enforce that fear and the more that we get stuck in a cycle of reaction, reaction, reaction, reaction, reaction.
Now, one of the most helpful things in life for me has been to step back and look at the cycle, look at the trends and ask myself, does this behavior, does this reaction bring me closer to my long-term goals? There’s this moment where if we can, we can just practice slowing down and pausing. This will be really important for you, folks, who do compulsions on autopilot. Slow down and pause and zoom out and go, “Wait a second. Is there a trend in my reaction?”
I often say to my clients and patients, “My job is pretty simple. My job is for you to tell me how you’re doing, for you to explain to me what’s going. My job is to find the trends, find the patterns. If there is a pattern of reaction, that’s where I intervene. If the reactor action is problematic, that’s where we intervene. If the reaction is really helpful and productive and brings you long-term joy and quality of life, I have no business messing up with that. I’m here to look at disorder.” That’s what disorder means, is to look at where there is a problem in the order of your life, to look at the trends.
The question here I want you to do is, take a step back, look at the trends in your life and see what is and isn’t working, and ask yourself: Does this behavior bring me closer to my long-term goals or to my values?
Last week, I shared about the lie that I told myself and my family about, “Oh, I have to work. I don’t have a choice. I have to work this hard.” And then I was like, “Wait a second. That’s a lie. I don’t have to work this hard. I make myself work this hard. I pushed myself to work this hard. I allow myself to work this hard.”
I have to look and stop and go, “Okay, it’s cool. It’s fun. I get a lot done. I get a lot of fulfillment from it.” But if I step back and go, “Wait a second, does this bring me closer to my long-term goals?” some of it does. Yes, it helps me feel more fulfilled in my work. It gives me more success in my work. It makes me write a good book. But it doesn’t fulfill the long-term goal of me wanting to be a present parent, a good wife, have a connection with my family. This trend has its pros and cons. from that, I’m going to make a decision for myself on what brings me closer to the long-term goal that matters to me most.
Now, again, as I said last week, no judgment here. Last week, my husband said, “I think that maybe you’re pushing yourself a little too hard.” I might go. “Yeah, you’re right, but I’m still going to choose to do it because that’s what I value. That’s my choice.” You get to make those choices. No one gets to tell you what’s right for you as long as you’re being honest with yourself about what is the long-term goal.
Often with anxiety, clients will say to me, “No, no, I know that I’m doing this as a compulsion, but I’m cool with it because it doesn’t impact my grades or nobody knows I’m doing it. It’s just my time. It doesn’t take up all the people’s time. So I’m cool with it.” My job is to go, “No judgment. It is your life you get to choose, as long as you’re comfortable with the long-term outcome, which will be you’re going to keep having OCD or anxiety or panic disorder or health anxiety or social anxiety or phobias, because the more you react in that way, the more it reinforces that disorder.”
Again, I’m not here to judge. I just want you to be able to look at the patterns and the trends, and then decide for yourself what’s good for you. We can’t be just in reaction because that’s when we get stuck. If we’re only focused on short-term relief, we will get stuck.
I feel really in this moment, I want to just stop and just check in with you guys. How are you doing? What’s coming up for you? Is there a lot of negativity or judgment around yourself? Maybe there’s some defensiveness of like, “What the heck is Kimberley saying? Why is she saying this to me? She’s so mean.”
Often when I say this to clients, actually, let me share with you. When I’m with a patient and they’ll go, “You know? Yeah, I just avoided it. I’m fine. I’m not going to do it. I’m not ready,” and I’ll go, “That’s fine. I’m not here to judge you as long as you understand the long-term effect of that on your life.” They’re like, “Oh, Kimberley, you just always call it like it is. Why are you going to be so mean?” And then we giggle together a little.
That’s right. Yeah, I’m not doing it to be mean. I’m trying to be a truth-teller. I’m trying to get them to come on board with just telling the truth to themselves because that’s how we get better. Now, some people will say, “Oh, but I don’t know what the truth is.” True, I get it. But you do know what your values are and you do know what matters to you most. I’m guessing it’s not staying stuck.
That’s it. Does this behavior bring me closer to my long-term goals? We may need to weigh it up. Like I said to you, with me is, there may be pros and cons to it. We need to have a little conversation with ourselves. We still have to accept that nothing’s perfect, right? I think then we will wrap it up with self-compassion, and then the big bow on top is, it’s not going to be perfect. The long-term process may not look the way you want it to be. Then we just be gentle with ourselves. We can’t have it all, but just really lean into what’s effective, what truly brings you a sense of fulfillment, which brings you closer to your values.
Sending you guys love. I love you guys so, so, so, so, so much. Got a little secret for you here. ERP School is coming back. It will be available in early March. Get very excited. We are offering ERP School again with bonuses. Even though it’s been available throughout the year, we always offer it twice a year with extra special bonuses. Keep an eye out. We will be offering that in March.
Now we usually offer it in February. But remember how I told you I was going to walk a little less. There you go. Made some changes. Delayed it a little bit. How do you like that from being honest with ourselves? It will be available in March. Stick around. We are going to give you a little more information. We’ll be doing the free training again and offering some great bonuses.
Also, let your therapist know. If you have a therapist who doesn’t know how to treat OCD, let them know that we now have ERP School with CEU so you can get continuing education units with the course and an extra training from me on how to be a stellar Exposure and Response Prevention Therapist. It’ll be here in March. So stick around again for that.
Now, if you want more and more information, and if you want to get a ton more free resources from me, head over to Instagram, I’m most present there. I’d like to be more present in all the others, but again, cutting back on work. Go over there and follow me @kimberleyquinlan. That’s where you get a ton of free content every single day.
I love you guys. One more thing, please go and leave an honest review either on iTunes, Stitcher, Podbean, all of the places where you can listen to podcasts. We are giving away a free pair of Beats headphones to one lucky person who leaves a review once we get a thousand reviews. I will send them your way. You get to pick the color. I’m very excited about these. Not the teeny tiny ones, the bigger ones. I’m so excited to offer that, that you can listen to the podcast with the best quality into your ears. Yay.
All right. All my love to you guys. Sending you much love. I hope you’re taking special care of yourself. It is a beautiful day to do hard things. See you next week.
Please note that this podcast or any other resources from cbtschool.com should not replace professional mental health care. If you feel you would benefit, please reach out to a provider in your area. Have a wonderful day, and thank you for supporting cbtschool.co