Your Thinking Could Be Causing Your Anxiety
Did you ever consider that your thinking could be causing your anxiety?
Because our thoughts create our feelings, what we think can cause us to feel anxious.
The thoughts that cause anxiety often emerge from fears about the future or anticipated threats of what “could” happen, the “what ifs” that our mind creates to torture us.
Unless we’re mindful of these thoughts and pause to unpack them, our anxious feelings will take over and plunge us into the depths of anxiety-related symptoms that I trust you know all too well…and do your best to avoid.
The first step to relieving anxiety’s wrath is to stop and notice the party going on in your mind.
Notice Your Thinking
I always knew my mind was a party of thoughts, most of which were stories and dramas that I’d rehash or invent about what I looked like, what others thought about me, if I was doing it right, or if I was in trouble.
Unconsciously, I’d create conversations, confrontations, and entire “soap operas” in my mind that not only caused me to feel anxious, but also caused me to feel exhausted, depleted, and wrung out.
It wasn’t until I learned and committed to practicing mindfulness through cognitive thought work that I discovered the connection between my mind and my anxiety.
See, I’d always thought that I just felt anxious; that anxious was how I was wired.
Whereas some of us do feel more anxiety than others because of our biological makeup, most the anxiety that I was feeling was a result of the thoughts that I was thinking.
This was the best news ever because it meant that I could use my mind to create relief!
Understand Your Thinking
When we understand our thinking and how our thoughts cause much of our anxiety, we’re then capable of creating change.
Because I wanted to feel less anxious, I went to work examining the most common anxiety-provoking thoughts in my mind.
I wrote down each thought and the feeling that the thought created.
For example, the thought, “If I screw this up, people will think I’m a fraud” was a hugely influential thought in making me feel anxious.
Once on paper, I was fully aware of the thought and could begin to understand it.
I then started watching for circumstances when the thought would arise and how it would make me feel…which was always anxious.
As I repeated this process with all the various thoughts in my mind that caused me to feel anxious, I grew wise to my thought patterns and their connection with my anxiety.
Change Your Thinking
Once I was clear about how my thinking patterns caused my feeling patterns, I was ready to change the thoughts that were causing my anxiety.
I started with one of the heavy hitters; “If I screw this up, people with think I’m a fraud.
How and where this thought first got planted in my mind is another blog for another time, yet I can tell you that I had no evidence to support this thought.
It was totally made up from my past; the only thing the thought was good for was causing me to feel anxious…and I’d had enough of that.
On paper, I gave time to deciding what thought would serve me better and create calmer more empowered feelings.
I choose the thought, “I am taking imperfect action in my zone of genius.”
Writing the thought, I noticed how I felt in my body; I felt inspired, excited, and amazingly empowered.
My body tingled with anticipation, enthusiasm, and eagerness instead of debilitating anxiety.
I repeated this process with all the crappy thoughts that caused me to feel anxious.
Practice Your Thinking
Daily, I would write my new thoughts, place them on sticky notes where I could see them, and bring them consciously into my awareness as I rewired my brain and my emotions.
In the same way that the false, anxiety-producing thoughts were embedded in my brain, I had to commit to replacing the old thoughts with the new ones consciously.
Initially, I didn’t believe some of the new thoughts, yet I wanted to believe them; I wanted to feel relief.
Overtime and with dedicated practice, I did change my thinking…I did feel amazing anxiety relief.
All my new thoughts are now in my daily thought and mindset practices; I repeat them daily with intention, on purpose.
At times when I feel anxious, I pause, notice what old thoughts are creeping in and consciously replace them with my new thoughts.
It’s a life practice that serves me well and has totally changed my relationship with anxiety.
Notice, Understand, Change, and Practice Your Thinking
So the next time you’re feeling anxious, consider that your thinking could be causing your anxiety.
Experiment with noticing, understanding, changing, and practicing new thoughts.
Observe how you feel.
Let me know what you discover.
Sending you inspiration,