I recently had a lovely stay in the Hilton Hotel, Manchester. It was only when we were en-route to the hotel and my husband pointed it out in the distant skyline, that I realised that the hotel is really rather tall! It is currently the 11th tallest building in the UK, being situated in the 47 storey Beetham Tower.
Why am I telling you this? Well, until I learnt to manage my thinking with The Thrive Programme, the fact that I was on my way to stay in a very tall building would have been a huge deal for me. To say I wasn’t a fan of heights would be an understatement!
This is how the scenario would have played out for me previously: as soon as I had realised that we were booked to stay in this tall building, I would have started to create anxiety. Except back then, I would have thought that the anxiety was happening TO me because of something external, in other words, because of the height of the hotel. I wouldn’t have realised that I was CREATING the anxiety by the way I was thinking about the hotel. Because I would have thought that it was the height of the hotel that was “making” me feel scared, I would have felt powerless.
I probably would have thought the anxiety had just happened suddenly, out of nowhere. I wouldn’t have noticed the many unhelpful, powerless thoughts that had preceded the anxiety. “I can’t stay the night in such a tall building”, “I won’t be able to cope”, “I won’t be able to sleep a wink all night”, “What if we need to get out in an emergency?”…….. All these thoughts are examples of unhelpful thinking styles causing distorted thinking. In other words, I would have warped my thoughts to fit in with my limiting belief that heights “make” me scared. I would have thought my fear was about the height and not about the emotional over-reaction to heights that I created.
I would have used my imagination in a very unhelpful way, imagining how awful it would be to be up so high. I would have built up a horrible feeling of anticipation that would have meant that by the time I arrived at the hotel, I would have made the experience even more difficult.
I think I would have still stayed at the hotel but only if we could have changed to a room on the lowest floor possible. So rather than face the situation and learn that it was actually okay, I would have avoided it, therefore maintaining my belief that heights were scary and I couldn’t cope with them.
Happily, with my Thrive skills, this is not how the stay played out at all! I felt really calm when I saw the building in the distance because I process experiences completely differently now. I process them in a much more powerful way where I recognise that I have a CHOICE about how I react and I chose to create calm. I did this by taking it a thought at a time and making each thought helpful. I chose not to over-control the situation by using avoidance strategies because I felt that I could cope with my thoughts and emotions.
It didn’t bother me at all which floor we ended up staying on and when I saw the view from the window, I just marvelled at how far we could see. We had a lovely stay and I slept soundly all night. It felt so good process how far I have come in relation to the way I choose to respond to life experiences. If I hadn’t processed this progress, it might as well have never happened. And the best bit of it all is the fact that I haven’t directly worked on my fear of heights! This has been a happy byproduct of the positive changes I have made to my psychological foundations through The Thrive Programme.
If you have a fear or a phobia, you can replace this scenario about heights with whatever you fear, whether that is dogs, small spaces, public speaking, vomiting, flying or any of the many other fears people have. People with a phobia have a fear of their own emotions, irrespective of what they believe is the “trigger”. Working through The Thrive Programme will help you understand WHY you have your fear, HOW you are maintaining it and WHAT to do to change that. And we don’t stop there! We work together so that you are processing life in a powerful, positive way that will affect everything you do.