Over 12 years ago, Brigid Walsh suffered from a debilitation anxiety disorder that bought her career and personal life to a complete standstill.
Now, as the General Manager of health retreat Golden Door, Brigid explains how the power of mental self-awareness can put you back in control, improve your decision-making process and open your eyes to new opportunities.
I’m from a family of 11 – nine kids and mum and dad – and half of us experienced the same anxiety disorder. When I experienced it, I couldn’t work, I was referred for counselling and I was eventually put on medication.
Something that helped me greatly was learning the basics of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is all about understanding how you interpret situations, so you can control your choices.
Identifying negative emotions
I now know that I was having panic attacks because I allowed things to run away in my mind. If I made a mistake, I would analyse it, pull it apart and invest even more emotion into it. Things were never actually that bad in reality – and that can be a damaging thought process to live with.
Counselling gave me perspective to see my own traits. Now, if I’m up against something, I look out for my negative thoughts and try to give them less gravity. I actively tell myself, “Actually, there can be a positive out of this,” and then I think of it.
The whole process has helped me so much, particularly at work. I stepped into the General Manager role of Golden Door in 2011 and have faced some pretty big challenges since then. It gave me the opportunity to be much more rational and remove the negative anchors that were weighing me down until I couldn’t think clearly.
Dr Sarah Edelman is an Australian psychologist, and a go-to person for comments on mental health or cognitive behavioural therapy strategies on TV. We often refer to her book Change Your Thinking in our seminars. It really strikes a chord with people to realise that a lot of their pain, suffering and hardship comes from the stories that they create in their heads.
Find your circuit breaker
Often we’re in such ‘operation mode’ that it’s hard to be mindful in the life we’re actually living. For some people, it can be invaluable to find time to meditate or talk it through, and for others it’s all about having the courage to break your routine altogether.
There’s something to be said about the moment you step off the treadmill of life and experience a circuit breaker. It gives you a chance to address some of those deep questions.
I’ve met over 14,000 people since I’ve been with Golden Door. It is incredible to see the transformations people can make in as little as five to seven days. You never know what might happen when you hit the reset button.
Golden Door provides an environment to help nurture the body, mind and spirit. It does this through the most caring and passionate and talented staff to support people’s goals, what their individual goals are. Then the experiences are transformative.
Photo credit: Golden Door, StockSnap