By David Joel Miller
9 ways to tell if your thoughts are causing your anxiety.
Is anxiety a constant feature in your life? Anxiety has its place. It tells you if you are in a dangerous situation and keeps you alert. But if you are always in an anxious state you will wear yourself out and anxiety no longer becomes protective, it becomes your tormentor.
If you have a pattern of thinking anxious thoughts even when they are not necessary then you may be training your brain to maintain an anxious state at times you should be relaxed and calm.
How many of these over-anxious thoughts are you practicing?
1. Your negative thoughts have become a habit.
Is your default brain setting to look for the danger, for what could go wrong? Have you made looking for the negative a habit? Start looking for the good, the unexpected. Meditate on the positive things in your life and challenge yourself to stop ruminating on what could go wrong and begin looking for all the constructive things in your life.
Developing a list of things you are grateful for can increase the habit of seeing the good and reduce the tendency to look for the anxiety-provoking cues in your environment.
2. A recurring thought interferes with your life.
Do you have a recurring fear that you are or will get sick? Do you worry about finances and think you will go broke? Do you practice the thoughts you will have when something bad might happen?
Look for the facts in these situations. See a doctor. Get your health checked out. Work on your finances. Look for ways to earn more, spend less and save some. Buy some insurance.
Stop practicing that fearful, anxious thought and begin to take action. Include in those actions learning to relax and to look for the positive. Give yourself credit for the things you have accomplished.
3. You worry about things that don’t really matter.
Do you worry that something will happen, somewhere, to someone, and you do not even know why? Do you worry that characters on shows will die or fictional couples will break up?
When you find yourself worrying, ask yourself, does this matter? Does it matter to you? Does it matter right now?
Do you worry about whether to buy one kind of vegetable or the other? Make a choice and the worry ends. For many of life’s choices, there is no correct answer. Pick the thing you want and move forward.
4. Your need for everything to be perfect makes you anxious.
You are a human, aren’t you? No human is perfect. We learn from our mistakes. Learn from your mistake and do better next time. Everything can never be perfect. Your perfect will not be someone else’s.
5. Your worry about things that are out of your control makes you anxious.
Some things are your job. Some things are not. Worrying about someone else’s job is unproductive. You may think about what would happen, you may even make contingency plans, but let others worry about their stuff.
Worrying about things over which you have no control does not protect you from danger. It diverts resources from doing the things you need to do into unproductive worrying.
6. You beat yourself up about things everyone does – normal behavior.
Accept your humanness, embrace it. Sometimes you will burp, sometimes you will pass gas, possible at the most embarrassing moment. All humans sometimes trip or fall.
We all make errors and do uncomfortable things. Try to minimize your number and the nature of your embarrassing moments but do not beat yourself up.
Hint here. Turn your cell phone off during church services and do not eat beans just before an important meeting. Do things proactively to reduce your embarrassing moments, but once they happen, accept that you to are blessed with those normal human moments.
7. Calling yourself names increases your anxieties.
Call a child stupid often enough and they believe you. Eventually, they will stop trying to learn. You can do the same thing to yourself. Calling yourself names is not helpful. It will result in anxiety over your self-worth. You are worthwhile simply because you are you.
8. Second guessing decisions will paralyze you with anxiety.
Once a decision is made move forward. There are times when situations change when you get new information, and you need to reevaluate. If you find yourself rethinking every decision realize that this is wasting time looking back over your shoulder at the past and you should be living in the present.
9. Telling yourself that good things will never happen for you feeds the anxiety.
What you tell yourself over and over your brain believes. If you say you can’t your brain will avoid trying. If you repeatedly tell yourself things will never get better, they won’t. This is a negative affirmation. Negative affirmations like positive ones work. Try telling yourself that you can do things and good things become possible.
Do you practice any of those 9 thinking patterns that cause anxiety? Would you be willing to part with some of your fearfulness? Try practicing more positive and more helpful ways of thinking. Practice helpful thoughts over and over and see if your anxieties don’t melt away.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!
You can recover. Your cruising along the road of life and then wham, something knocks you in the ditch. If you have gone through a divorce, break up, or lost a job your life may have gotten off track. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Casino Robbery is a novel that explores the world of a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page or my Facebook author’s page, David Joel Miller. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.