Stop, Think, Go Method

What if I told you that its not the external events that cause us psychological pain, if that were true every time the event occurred the same feeling and behavior would follow all the time for everyone, rather it’s the way we think about those events that influences our feelings and behaviors. If our thoughts towards the situations are unrealistic and unhelpful we can train our brain to replace them with more realistic and self-empowering thoughts but in order to do this we need to bring our anxiety back to a more manageable level so we can think clearly. There are several ways this can be done but one that I found the most effective is the STOP, THINK, GO method. Think of it as a traffic light for your thoughts.


The first step is pretty self-explanatory. STOP what you doing and stop the flow of your thoughts. This can simply be done by counting to 10 or by closing your eyes and picturing a red traffic light and saying STOP out loud.

The next step is THINK!

Ask yourself What am I thinking right now? List the thoughts you are having and briefly record what you have identified as the most likely trigger of this response and what you are thinking as a result Example; Being stuck at home in isolation or limiting the amounts of time you go outside in response to fear of contracting the virus. Thought is: If I go outside I will get the virus so I just need to stay home, which means I will be totally alone. Everyone is going through their own problems so I am sure they don’t want to listen to mine and that means there won’t be anyone I can reach out to and if I do. I know they are just going to say “stop being selfish, everyone is in the same boat” and then I will look like a self centered person who only cares about themselves. I just have to suck it up and get through it.

When you are in a state of anxiety some of those thoughts may feel totally normal but they are in fact Cognitive Distortions (will address those in the another blog). Once we recognize those we can move onto the next step and that is to CHALLENGE YOUR THOUGHTS;
This is a lot easier said then done but a good way to start is with the following questions;
Is this thought 100% true?
What other explanation could there be for what I am thinking?
Show me the evidence that proves this thought is true?
Is this thought working for me or against me?
What has happened before when I reached out to people?

The final step is the GO. This is your method for effectively, safely and assertively dealing with this emotion. Start a daily routine making time for exercise and relaxation. If you aren’t comfortable going outside download a yoga or a home fitness app that you can do at home. Take a break from the news; having a 24-hour feed of information feeds anxiety, as the news is not always relevant to the area you are in. Stick to 1 or 2 reliable news resources and try and keep things in perspective. Do something about things that you do have control over. Get busy even if it is indoors, and do something that gives you a sense of purpose or accomplishment. Read the books you were always too busy to read, start learning another language, learn to cook, update your resume and limit the amount of time you spend on social media. If you feel that you can’t reach out to people turn that thought around and tell yourself “ maybe I can’t reach out to anyone but I want them to know they can reach out to me”. Sit somewhere nice and comfortable, grab a coffee and chat to your friends over skype, zoom or messenger, it’s just like being in a café but for free. And finally tell yourself the things you are feeling are normal and totally understandable but they are temporary and will pass. Everyone is on a slower timetable right now and its ok to slow your pace too.

While the virus is a global pandemic and a catastrophe maybe it’s also a reminder to slow down and focus on things that really matter. I don’t know about anyone else but I have used this time to work on being the best person I
can be. I exercise daily, I have read so many books, I write, I have grown deeper and more fulfilling friendships, I have helped others who have reached out to me despite going through so many of my own battles. I don’t do this because I am any better or stronger than anyone else; I do it because I believe that just like the cancer this too shall pass and when it does I want to be ready to go back to not just surviving but really living.

Love Janna

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