How to break anxious thinking patterns
Do you describe yourself as an anxious person? Do you see it as part of your personality? Maybe you accept that you have an anxious disposition; that it’s ‘you’, but maybe sometimes it’s exhausting or overwhelming. Do people tell you to stop ‘over-thinking’ or advise you to ‘lighten up’ or stop ‘sweating the small stuff’. Life is full of variety and people are different. There will always be people who are braver, calmer, more or less risk averse, but if you find yourself afraid of day to day things and fear and anxiety is blighting your life, it’s time to do something.
Modifying your behaviour is probably easier to say than do, when feeling anxious, but there are some strategies which may help:
Worst scenario thinking
As a person who is prone to stressing, thinking about the worst scenario, might not be too big a challenge. You might find it useful to categorise and rank your thoughts and outcomes into worst case, best case and most reasonable case scenarios. This not only helps to rationalise irrational thoughts, but also allows you to recognise the opportunities as well as the risks. This can lead you to feeling more secure when choosing what to do in any given situation.
Working through this exercise with a therapist can help to ensure that you do run a full review of all the options rather than focusing only on the negative outcomes or catastrophising.
Mistakes consume thoughts
If you’re someone who cogitates or re-runs previous errors endlessly then taking decisions may be hard. Deciding on what to do and then doing it is very good for confidence and self-belief though. Fear is paralysing, so doing something rather than constantly running through options in your head, can be a real turning-point in managing anxious thinking.
Avoidance of criticism
No-one enjoys experiencing criticism, but if you are prone to anxiety, you are likely to try to avoid situations where comments and opinions may be given. Feedback can be helpful for growth and development however, and should not be taken personally or given undue attention. Worrying what others think (or focusing on negative aspects of feedback) is damaging to your self-esteem and is a waste of energy. Look for the positive in any feedback and keep things in perspective. If you tend to ‘overreact’ to other’s opinions or critique give yourself time to pause to gather your thoughts before responding. You will not only give an impression of calm, but will increase your sense of control and confidence.
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About Lorraine Mcreight
Lorraine McReight is an award-winning hypnotherapist with a therapy and training centre in Wimbledon, SW London. She is the principal of The London Hypnotherapy Academy and is the editor of the professional journal, Hypnoversity. She is the development director of the NCH (National Council for Hypnotherapy) in March 2015.