How to stop thinking the worst; well, Bob Newhart would advocate that we simply “stop it”. Of course, if it were really that easy, I’d be out of a job, and you’d be staring at a different web page on an entirely different subject.
Have you tried being less anxious? Yeah, right.
Well, of course, that advice has never worked for anyone, has it? Concentrating on Not Worrying only serves to make the issue worse. Classic denial. It’s a bit like playing Whack a Mole. You hit one anxious thought, and another, bigger one pops up somewhere else. So nope, that’s absolutely no good. This just results in catastrophic thinking. We really do blow things out of proportion, and when you’re anxious, it’s difficult to see that’s what you’re doing. Thinking the worst becomes as natural as breathing.
We catastrophise (that’s sort of a word) about all kinds of things when anxiety takes over. “What if” thinking takes over, and it’s always a what if with negative, terrible consequences. We make up chains of events that are very unlikely, but anxiety lies to us and gives credence to these thoughts. And the really painful part of anxiety is that we worry about things that haven’t happened, that are probably not likely to happen.
My clients present with all sorts of anxieties and phobias. Fears of choking, eating in front of other people at networking meetings, eating foods that aren’t cheese sandwiches or chips, fears of stumbling across illegal “stuff” on the internet, fears of passing out in meetings when being asked to speak, fears of throwing up. All of these things are either unlikely, or rare occurrences. Imagine living your life EVERY SINGLE DAY avoiding the remote possibility that you might be sick? It puts you and your life into a tiny little box, with you tightly packed inside, with all the good stuff going on outside.
Sucks, doesn’t it?
So, what can you do about it?
Quite a lot, as it happens. Firstly, you could come and have some hypnotherapy in Leeds or over skype with me, because it SOOO works. OK, plug over.
Outside of that, it’s about changing your mindset, and making the choice to do so. I KNOW you don’t want to feel this way, unless there’s perhaps some reason that worrying and anxiety are doing you good; but if you feel that, that’s the worry and anxiety telling you so.
Here’s what DOESN’T work.
Ignoring how you feel or denying it.
Telling yourself there’s nothing to worry about. Well, clearly there is, because you ARE worrying.
Avoiding the issue.
It’s like not opening those red bills. They get more and more intrusive.
Pushing your fears down.
They WILL resurface if you don’t acknowledge them.
Because that fixes it all, right? You’ve gone over and over the worry, and it’s no better, so no. Overthinking won’t fix it.
Here’s what WILL work.
I’ve asked you before if you believe everything you hear. This time, I want you to understand that just because you’ve had a thought, it doesn’t make it the truth. The truth is subjective, and our reality is influenced by what we think. But some of our thoughts are erroneous, obsessive, worrying, anxiety provoking, life-restricting.
So think about this. If you step back from your thoughts and feelings, and distance yourself, you can make a huge difference to how you feel.
DEFUSE the worry.
Our thoughts are like little bombs, waiting to go off in our minds, after which we stand back and survey the damage. If we defuse them, we take back some control and distance ourselves.
Here’s how to do it.
- Catch your thoughts.
We often don’t notice what we’re feeling until we find ourselves thinking dark thoughts. So, when that happens, catch that thought and hold on to it for a moment.
- Notice the thought.
That’s all it is. It’s a thought. It isn’t truth, it’s not something we have to act on, we don’t actually have any real emotions attached to them. A thought on its own has no power until we choose to do something with it.
If you choose to act on it, then you can choose to use your powers for good or bad. So, it might as well be good, right?
- Acknowledge its existence by noticing it.
Suppressing the thought will cause more trouble than it’s worth; and just like Whack a Mole, it will pop up somewhere else, with greater intensity. So acknowledge and notice. Notice by telling yourself “I notice I am feeling……anxious/uneasy/worried/scared/angry/jealous” or whatever. This allows you to distance yourself.
- Take another step back.
This time, notice that you are noticing. “I notice that I am noticing the feeling of….”
By the time you complete this process, the thought loses its power and you can carry on as normal.
Your internal voice
It’s there all the time, with a running commentary on what you’re doing, how you look, the choices you make, and so on. Ignore it, and it will get louder. Acknowledge it, and you can co-exist and work together.
If the voice is critical, you can shut it up by giving it a cartoon voice; you can also silence it by putting your tongue on the roof of your mouth, behind your teeth; try it, it really works.
Suppressing and avoiding your thoughts makes you think the worst. Face them head on, and you take away their power, taking all that lovely control for yourself.
If you are plagued by anxiety, worry, fears, imposter syndrome, or that nagging self-doubt, then speak to me. Stop turning down the opportunities you could be taking if it wasn’t for this….contact me for your complimentary consultation, and let’s get you back in control.