How to Become More Solution-Focused

A Positive Approach to Managing Panic Disorder

Many people with anxiety disorders are more prone to negative thinking. As part of their condition, panic disorder sufferers are often more predisposed to having self-defeating thoughts and viewing life as a never-ending series of disappoint. Constantly seeing the glass as half empty can contribute to a variety of unpleasant symptoms, including chronic worry, nervousness, fear, low self-esteem, and overall feelings of dissatisfaction about life.

In many ways, negative thinking can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if you believe that a situation is going to go poorly, these thoughts my cloud the situation, making it more likely that it won’t turn out that good. For panic disorder sufferers this can translate into how they view themselves and their ability to manage their condition.

Having these types of thoughts can also contribute to maintaining a problem-orientated focus. This means that one views life stressors and circumstances as insurmountable problems. For instance, a person with panic disorder may continually focus their attention on their panic attacks and anxiety. The panic sufferer may have thoughts such as, “My panic attacks prevent me from enjoying life,” “I don’t have the friends I want because people are put off by my anxiety,” or “Why do I have to struggle with panic disorder?” Such thoughts only allow the problems to fester and make your condition seem impossible to control.

Does this type of thinking sound familiar to you? Fortunately, there are ways to turn your problem-laden thoughts around. So how can you become more solution-focused? Read ahead to learn about how you can begin to focus on solutions and take a positive approach to managing panic disorder.

Take Things One Step at a Time

Being solution-oriented does not mean that you should ignore your problems. Rather, you should face your problems head on by carrying out solutions one step at a time. When faced with a difficult issue, all too often people will feel overwhelmed. For instance, when initially diagnosed with panic disorder, it is not unusual to be inundated with questions and concerns.

Instead of trying to take on everything at once, write down the small steps that you will need to make towards recovery. You may list out ideas such as:

  • Call and schedule with a therapist
  • Confirm that insurance will cover treatment and/or determine cost
  • Follow up with prescribing doctor and discuss medication options
  • Search internet for local and/or online support group
  • Develop my relaxation skills
  • Learn ways to control panic attacks in public

Writing down each step and solution will make you feel less stressed and the problem at hand will appear much more manageable.

Determine What You are Doing Right

Problem-oriented thinkers tend to put more emphasis all that is contributing to the issue.

To become more solution-focused, try noticing what is going right. You may have a hard time deal with your symptoms on most days, but are there any exceptions that you can think of? For example, maybe you are upset that you are dealing with panic attacks, but you are able to get out and have fun with friends every weekend, in which case you completely forget about how bad your anxiety is throughout the week. Take note of when your problem is not occurring and determine ways you can do more of this. As in the example here, perhaps you could try to meet up with friends more often during the week, giving a midweek break from focusing on your symptoms.

Overcome Your Negative Thinking

In order to become more solution-oriented, you are going to need to overcome your negative thinking patterns. This can be easier said than done, as over time this patterned thinking has become a habit and you may not even be aware anymore of other ways to view the world. Believe it or not, there are many people who have a more positive perception of the world and their role in it.

You too can become a more pessimistic person by reframing your negative thoughts. Try to remember the 3 R’s to changing negative thinking. The first step is to Recognize whenever you have a negative thoughts. Once you start paying attention, you may be surprised how often you have thoughts such as, “I never make a good impression,” “Other people rarely like me,” or “I’m just not smart enough.” Read here for more examples of common types of negative thoughts.

Once you have gotten into the habit of recognizing your negative thoughts, you will want to Record or write these thoughts down. It can be helpful to keep a small notebook in reach or even use your phone to quickly jot down these thoughts as they arise throughout your day. Recording your negative thoughts makes even more keenly aware of how automatic this type of thinking is for you.

Last, when you are aware of the thoughts that are occurring, you can begin to Replace them. At the end of the day, get out your notes you recorded about negative thinking. Now look them over and determine ways you can replace them. For example, if you thought, “I never make a good impression,” try replacing that with a more realistic thought, such as “I try my best and sometimes I make a great impression, others times I don’t do as well as I could. Either way, I know I am working hard to improve myself. Another example could be if you have thought like “People don’t like me because of my anxiety,” replace it with something like “Anxiety aside, not every person I meet is going to like me. However, I have a few close loved ones who love me despite my anxiety.” Keeping working on replacing these negative thoughts and notice how your mind may shift towards more solution-based focus. 

Continue Reading