by Megan Sy, M.S.
“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” –Carrie Fisher
Often in cognitive behavioral therapy, there is plenty of focus (understandably so) on thoughts and how thinking affects feeling. We may tend to forget that our behavior is also part of the disturbance and that it’s not just our thoughts that need to be changed. Further, there is often a misconception that behavior can only be changed once thoughts are rational and emotions are healthy. Ellis would argue, however, that several modes of change are preferred. He once wrote, “Use your head, your heart, and your hands and feet!”
We don’t have to wait around until we feel good about something. While it certainly would be nice if all the pieces were in place (thoughts are rational, emotions are healthy), this is not a prerequisite for behaving in a self-actualizing manner. We can act in a way that is consistent with our goals, despite any discomfort we might feel or any irrational thoughts we might have. In many situations, tolerating the discomfort may be more productive and realistic than waiting for the discomfort to disappear. Stay afraid, but do it anyway.