Like many people with anxiety, I find it difficult to let go of worrisome thoughts and realize that not all of them reflect reality. Once my mind associates with the “idea of anxiety”, disconnecting from the idea and moving on can seem impossible. But once I learned about cognitive distortion, I created a very fun and unconventional distraction technique that would make me laugh long before I could focus on my most invasive fears.
Cognitive distortion, a key component of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), involves techniques that allow people with excessive anxiety or rumination to “disconnect” from unrealistic or exaggerated thoughts. Common distraction strategies include noticing ideas without judgment, presenting ideas from an “observer” perspective and even structuring ruminative thoughts as if they were TV dialogue or a movie.
When I heard about some common cognitive distortion techniques, I laughed. I was surely Pretending that my thoughts were theatrical dialogue wouldn’t help. This concept seemed so far fetched to me that it didn’t resonate.
I even thought of the most dramatic show ever, “The Bachelor.”
I’ve been watching for several years and living for champagne-fueled TV dramas, so it only made sense to spice up my experience of perceptual distortion with a nod to the popular reality TV franchise.
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What if I could put myself in the shoes of a bachelor or bachelorette and choose not to “give roses” to ineffective thoughts?
Suddenly, I felt inspired. I imagined myself standing in a bachelor’s mansion in a floor-length gown, surrounded by a room full of thoughts. I heard host Chris Harrison declare, “This is the last rose tonight.” As I stood in the elegant room, confidently holding a rose, I transcended all my negative thoughts.
No Rod For You Tonight, Worry Thoughts!
Since the first time I introduced myself in the title role on “The Bachelorette: Worry Thinkts Edition,” I’ve weighed every ruminating idea as if I were on the show, handing out roses to more “positive” thoughts and sending out highly anxious thoughts packing.
“What if I don’t deserve to find love?” Goodbye – no rose for you!
“Everything is going well for me.” Get out of here and don’t come back!
“I may not be where I think I should be, but I do enough.” I just got my last reply!
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Pretending to be part of the Bachelor franchise and handing out roses or withholding them from my thoughts may seem silly, but it has successfully helped me defuse my thoughts. Putting myself on “The Bachelorette” and putting my worrying thoughts at risk of being sent home taught me that I don’t want to be “married” out of my anxious mind — and I deserve to hold on to the thoughts of loving me again.
Written by: Kelly Douglas
Originally appeared on: The Mighty
Republished with permission.