Pot Addiction: Part 4 - Fighting Anxiety
Updated: Nov 22, 2019
Deciding to quit a bad habit can cause anxiety to increase. Liivis had given up her crutch of smoking marijuana. She decided to face life. She at first felt worried. She had to face life without the marijuana, which made returning to work difficult.
She believed also that because her daily marijuana habit had made her work performance fall, she might continue to perform below the required standard. In short, she feared being put on probation, which might be the first step in losing her job. She knew that bad habits can undermine performance and attack her self-confidence at work. She got Mr. Robert Jenkin's help to learn how to stand up to the temptation of marijuana and also how to face her fears, something she could now learn to do on her own using what Mr. Jenkins had used - TEAM CBT Therapy as created by Dr. David Burns.
Fighting Marijuana Induced Loss of Self-Confidence
Robert Davies © 2019
“So, Liivis, what I am hearing is that your marijuana habit is seemingly under control as we speak. Is that right?”
“Yes, TEAM CBT therapy has helped me a lot using those CONTROL THOUGHTS.”
“So, your new goal today would be?”
“Well, my time-off-from-work is finished as of this weekend. Going back, I am facing being placed on probation at work if I don’t improve my work performance.”
“I guess you might be feeling, upset, anxious, and maybe frightened about returning to work with the threat of probation hanging over your head.”
“That’s right. Can we work on that?”
Bob, the counselor, took two Mood Logs out of his binder, one for Liivis and one for himself.
“Okay, what is the specific problem?”
“Well, it is my first day back at work. I’m afraid I will still have too many 'external errors' as we call them.”
“You are worried about making too making mistakes when you return to work on Monday?”
“Okay, write that down as our problem: I have a problem making too many mistakes at work.”
“Now, thinking about next Monday and those mistakes, which feelings are you having. Circle all or any of the categories on your Mood Log.”
Liivis circled the following: down at 80% strong, anxious and worried at 100% strong, incompetent at 50%, embarrassed at 80%, discouraged at 100%, frustrated and defeated at 80%, annoyed at 90%, overwhelmed at 100%, uncertain at 70% and dreadful at 80%.
From these negative emotions, Bob helped Liivis pull out her negative thoughts. He explained that it would be these negative thoughts that are giving her all those negative emotions thinking about her first day back at work.
“Okay, Liivis, here are your negative thoughts.”
I shouldn’t be making these mistakes.
I can’t handling this situation of maybe being put on probation.
It’s not fair that it is happening to me.
I should be getting better results.
The company should be more flexible.
I’m expecting more errors.
There shouldn’t be that much pressure.
I shouldn’t be so stupid about making mistakes.
“Liivis, before we get going with the mood log. I will use another form called the What-If Form. “
Bob handed Liivis another form, and Bob had one for himself too.
“I have one and you have one. Now, write down you first thought “I shouldn’t be making those mistakes.” on the What-If form.”
Liivis wrote down the sentence. Then she had to write a whole string of sentences to Mr. Jenkins continuing question: IF THAT WERE TRUE, WHAT IS THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
The following thoughts emerged:
WHAT IF FORM
I shouldn’t be making mistakes
IF THAT WERE TRUE, WHAT IS THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN THEN?
Then I would get put on probation. AND IF THAT WERE TRUE …?
Then I would get extra stressed. AND IF THAT …
Then I would make even more mistakes. AND IF THAT …
Then I would lose my job. AND IF THAT …?
Then I’d run into financial trouble. AND IF THAT … ?
I would have to move out of my house. AND IF THAT … ?
I’d be totally stressed out looking for a new job in a hurry. That’s it!.
“Wow, Bob, what a list!”
“Yes, it helps to write down your anxious thoughts. When you don’t, your mind just keeps spinning in a circle. Getting your worst fears written down, allows you to stop the spinning and to address them. Now lets look at the first thought and address it – I shouldn’t be making mistakes. Any cognitive distortions?”
“Well, Bob, there is a ‘Should’ and it isn’t valid. There is no reason I shouldn’t make mistakes especially with my smoking so much marijuana, which has a negative effect on concentration and focus. I would be focusing on the wrong things. That’s one distortion.”
“How about Mental Filter?” “Yes, I am thinking about only the part of my work I make mistakes and excluding the part I do well. That is a distortion.”
“Well, I am Discounting the Positive by not even considering the good work I do.”
“Magnification. I am blowing my mistakes out of proportion. They are only a small part of the work I do.”
“Well, Emotional Reasoning – I feel as if I shouldn’t make a mistake. Therefore, I am thinking that I shouldn’t be making any mistakes as if I am Mr. Perfect.”
“I guess I am Labelling where I label myself a mistake-maker. Even mistake-makers do some things right. There is no such thing as a mistake-maker as if that is all they do!”
“Also, Self-Blame, I am blaming myself forgetting that other people got me into the marijuana thing, which had a negative effect on my performance. How many is that?”
“Well, Liivis, too many. You have at least seven distortions. Your original thought is pretty twisted or distorted! How true did you say it was?”
“Okay, what would be more true than “I shouldn’t be making these mistakes?”
“How about – We are all human. We make mistakes, but we need them to learn.”
“How true is that for you?”
“How true is the original thought – I shouldn’t be making those mistakes?”
“How about all those other thoughts about running into financial trouble, having to move out of your house and looking for a new job?”
“They are NOT true at all.”
“Great work! Now let’s write new positive and realistic thoughts for those other negative thoughts on your Mood Log. We are finished with the What-If Log but keep it to study and learn from.”
Liivis and Bob looked at each negative thought, found a slew of cognitive distortions in those other thoughts, too. Liivis wrote new thoughts.
Changes in Thoughts
I shouldn’t be making these mistakes. Change to ⇒ We are all human. We make mistakes and we can learn from them.
I can’t handle this situation of maybe being put on probation. Changed to ⇒ I can learn to focus on my job not problems about my job
It’s not fair that it is happening to me. Changed to ⇒ Life isn’t fair, but I can learn and move ahead.
I should be getting better results. Changed to ⇒ I can do the work to get improved results.
The company should be more flexible. Changed to ⇒ The company is helping me to improve and go beyond.
I’m expecting more errors. Changed to ⇒ The fact is that I am on a roll and I am doing better in general.
There shouldn’t be that much pressure. Changed to ⇒ I can work at doing one good day’s work, one-day-at-a-time.
I shouldn’t be so stupid about making mistakes. Changed to ⇒ I can learn from my mistakes. I can ask questions. I can change.
“Okay, Liivis, now that you are thinking more realistically, more positively, have your negative feelings dropped?”
“I’ll say they have. Feeling down has dropped from 80% to 5%, anxious and worried has dropped from 100% to 0%, incompetent has dropped from 50% to 0%, embarrassed has dropped from 80% to 0%, discouraged has dropped from 100% to 0%, frustrated and defeated has dropped from 80% to 10%, annoyed at 90% down to 0%, overwhelmed at 100% has dropped to 0%, uncertain from 70% to 0% and dreadful from 80% to 0%.
“Great work, Liivis. Now remember that you did well on your very first day with the company. Think of tomorrow as 'another first day' only you are experienced now.
Also, Liivis, you have had only 4 so-so months out of the 48 months that you have been with the company. That translates into 96% success rate."
"I only dropped in performance 4% of the time?"
“Exactly and now you have stopped the marijuana use, you will be able to balance out your life.”
“Bob, I am already seeing a better relationship between my fiancé and me, as well as between him and my parents. I also am developing more outside interests. Yes, things have improved thanks to TEAM CBT.”
"Have a great day at work on Monday! You can tell me all about it at our next session. "