The image posted above is from our favorite/most popular handout at Anxiety Resource Center.
Drs. Fielder and Huser have used this worksheet in some form during every presentation that they give. They’ve taught this technique to everyone from church groups to law and medical students as well as their own clients.
Even I have been known to ‘follow the circles’ a time or five myself when I find myself ruminating over a situation.
Problem-Focused Coping is one of the ways to help lessen anxiety symptoms, and it’s an important part of the Know Your Arc® process. It’s a mindset shift that involves assessing the thought that is ramping up your anxiety symptoms and offering yourself other explanations to counter the initial negative thought.
Do not confuse this with “toxic positivity”!
You are not trying to GET RID of the thoughts that are causing your anxiety symptoms to flare up. Not only is that impossible (Which you probably already know) BUT you are also presenting your brain with yet another threat, which means more anxiety symptoms on top of the ones that you are already dealing with.
What you are doing is acknowledging the problem while offering a silver lining of sorts. I liken it to talking to myself the way that I would talk to an anxious friend, acknowledging their initial thought while offering a possible explanation.
“They haven’t texted me back yet, but it doesn’t mean that they are ignoring me. They could be busy and not able to reply.“
Remember, your brain is designed to automatically go negative as a form of protection. Countering an automatic negative thought (Or ANT, as we call it in the biz,) is something that will becomes easier to do if you practice a coping technique, like Problem-Focused Coping, consistently.
After ‘following the circles’ consistently, you’ll find that your B3 (Brain, Body, and Behavior) symptoms will start moving in a more positive direction and your arc of anxiety will get back to where you want it to be that much more quickly.
It sounds like magic, but it’s better. It’s SCIENCE!