Dear Diary, I Am #Fearless, Mental Illness, Mental Illness
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Dear Diary: Our Minds Are Fascinatingly Powerful

BuddhaThe human mind has always fascinated me. I think that’s probably why I decided to major in psychology in college, because the how’s and the why’s behind human behavior have always captivated my attention.

For example, let’s look at the placebo effect.

The placebo effect is basically what happens when we are given something that will not produce a given result (like a sugar pill, saline water, alcohol free drinks, etc) and yet it yields the desire result (no more pain, reduction in negative thoughts, we get drunk, etc). The principle of this is that if we believe that something will do something to us, either positive or negative, with enough will and belief, it can happen.

Or, perhaps, self-fulfilling prophecy is what speaks to you.

Self-fulfilling prophecy is basically when we have a thought about a given situation (that is usually false), and then our actions, behaviors and thoughts (either consciously or subconsciously) make the original action come true. Then, we use that outcome as a way to reaffirm our beliefs surrounding what happened.

Amazing right?

Our minds are extremely powerful, and this week it seems important for me to share a quote from Buddha:

What you think, you become.
What you feel, you attract.
What you imagine, you create.

Our perception of this world we live in, the people we surround ourselves with, and who we think we are all derive from one place: our mind. Yes, our experiences play a large role, but guess what? It’s our minds that process those events, help us come to conclusions and then allows us to base future interactions off the past.

Like I said, our minds are powerful.

As I began treatment for emetophobia, I struggled with a lot of negative beliefs around virtually every part of my life.

I was anxious all the time, constantly worried that I would get sick. I would isolate myself from friends and avoid going out. I never tried anything new, and I would avoid traveling because it was too much for me.

Then, I would complain about how I always felt nauseous, which was because of my constant worry and panic. I would feel sad that none of my friends would want to hang out with me, even though it was me who had been pushing them away or avoiding their texts and calls. I would long for  a sense of adventure and wonder why nothing exciting ever happened to me, all while sitting at home on the computer and shooting down any exciting date night plans my husband had.

I had, through years of conscious and subconscious conditioning, made myself believe that I was less of a person because of my phobia. That I would always feel anxious, worried and panicked; that the whole world was out to get me, and that stomach bugs were placed on this earth to torture me, and only me. Because I’m that powerful, right?

As I started to recover through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), I began to explore the power of my brain. Why did I believe all these things? What happened that made me begin to feel how I did? CBT is basically rewiring your brain, and teaching you how to view the world and handle the world in a more positive way, something that I was severely lacking the first time I walked into a counselors office.

So, to make this a little simpler to understand, think of CBT as finally getting the manual for the TV stand you’ve been trying to build for weeks now.

You don’t see an instruction manual so you just dump everything out and get started. You put this stand together with whatever tools you have laying around, and you work really hard to get it done. After hours of frustration, rebalancing, and probably a couple bandaids, you step back and you see your completed stand. Or, well, what you think is completed. Even though you are certain you’ve done it right, there are a couple of wooden slabs still on the ground, and a handful of screws that probably should have gone in at some point.

Then, you are given the manual to compare your work. So you start reading and with the manual finally in front of you, you see exactly where everything should of gone, and you take it all apart and start again. As you start, you’ll see the steps you got right and go, “Oh cool, I knew this was supposed to go here.” Then, when you get to a step you messed up, you’ll see how it should have been done and go, “Right, that makes far more sense and I could have saved myself a headache or two if I’d just known to do it this way the first time.”

After a little extra time, you’ve now got a sturdy, reliable TV stand with all the parts in it’s proper places, and you have a sense of pride that came from doing it yourself and learning along the way.

That’s basically what CBT does for you.

Over the course of your lifetime, you’ve constructed this structure in your mind that isn’t very sturdy, has some holes in it and is constantly being broken down by the weight negativity, anxiety and panic. This structure is the way it is because you weren’t given the proper tools to fill those gaps and you’ve had to make do with what you did know. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s something we all do, but you know it could be stronger and more healthy.

With CBT, you learn how to build a structure that is study. It allows you to deconstruct the negative thoughts, emotions and beliefs, see what you had been doing both right and wrong, and allows you to put your mind back together in a way that is more capable of holding up the weight of our thoughts.

Soon, what you think becomes more positive, so you’re outlook on life changes for the better. You start to feel better and happier, so you begin to attract the people in your life that you may have unknowingly pushed away and maybe make new friends. You begin to imagine how your life should be and can be, so you start taking steps in making that dream a reality.

What you think, you become.
What you feel, you attract.
What you imagine, you create.

Anxiety, phobias and panic, while all true, paralyzing emotions, are dictated by what we think, feel and imagine to be true. If we think that we aren’t good enough, we will feel as if we are not good enough, and we will likely create an environment (even if it’s not intentionally) that feeds this belief we aren’t good enough.

You are good enough, I promise.

So my question is: Who do you want to become? What do you hope to attract in life? What do you hope to create for yourself and for others?

Until next time, Internet.

If you would like to email me, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to contact@hashtagfearless.com. I will do my best to respond to you within 48 hours, but if for some reason I cannot get back to you in that time frame, I promise I will always respond as soon as possible. You can also find me on  FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram

Lastly, I run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle I am passionately engaged in. The group is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.

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