We had homework, to set goals for the course. These had to be SMART (specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and timed). My goals included "To be able to turn my phone off for the evening and not worry about what i am missing out on or not replying to people and worrying what they would think". I had never done that. Start small.
Every week we had to fill in a questionnaire to track how we were doing. It looks like that above. It was 'interesting' filling that in every week.....
Week 2 - Worry Awareness Training
We reviewed goals. We looked at the CBT model in more detail, building it slowly step by step. And covered:
Week 3 - Intolerance of Uncertainty
Being unable to tolerate uncertainty is like a psychological allergy and a small amount can lead to a reaction. I realised then I had been uncertainty intolerant for a long time. Uncertainty drives worry and worry drivers uncertainty. Arghhhhh.
We talked about how being intolerant to uncertainty can mean that we avoid uncertain situations (we stop going out for example) and we attempt to eliminate uncertainty by being in total control.
The key is accepting that you can't control what happens but you can control your thoughts.
Attempts at control are often shown by sticking to routines, avoiding responsibility, eating the same food, over-planning and making hasty decisions to avoid experiencing uncertainty.
Trying to be in control takes up a lot of time and affects your wellbeing, I know its affected mine. We looked at how being intolerant of uncertainty can manifest itself in your behaviours. i think I ticked nearly all of these.
So you change by acting like you were tolerant. Fake it till you make it. Hmm I wasn't convinced.
But anxiety and discomfort is NORMAL when doing things the first time. We were all normal in the room, we just had our sensitivity switches set onto high.
Homework was to tolerate some uncertainty. I think its fair to say we were all pretty worried about that.
I tried to procrastinate less and reply to some questions I had been putting off, and i did.
I tried to seek less reassurance from my best friend and told them that's what I was doing and asked them not to reassure me when I asked.
Week 4 - Positive Beliefs about Worry
Key learning - action creates motivation, not the other way round.
We talked about how we can worry because we think it is a good thing and it feels like it has value, and when we think things have value we keep doing them.
Positive beliefs about worrying include:
After this for homework I made a major step. I used to go to church a lot as a kid and have always carried on saying a prayer before I went to sleep. It was always a long list of worries and I believed that saying it would make things better. I decided to stop. It was really difficult. I'd probably had the same sleep routine for 30+ years. I tolerated the uncertainty and challenged my positive beliefs about worry.
I wouldn't have done that without the CBT.
Week 5 - Re-evaluating the usefulness of worry
Because we were all starting to feel more comfortable with the group the trainers decided to mess that all up and make us act in a courtroom scene challenging positive worry beliefs. Uncomfortable, yep, but effective and also another great uncertainty tolerance test.
The cost of worry is greater than the value, because the value is nothing and the cost is significant. We talked about if:
Choosing to be active means you can then either problem solve or treat situations with imaginal exposure (more on that in week 8).
Not wasting time worrying means you have time to do other things. It was around now that I started painting.
Homework was to continue to tolerate uncertainty and to challenge a belief about worry when you started worrying.
That's the end of part one. I hope its been interesting. I'll do part two later, maybe today.
Mr Paul Wyse