Part 3 in a series on anxiety. People have thoughts, lots of them. It is estimated that people generate about 20,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. If you are female my guess is the higher number! ☺ When someone has anxiety think about how many of those thoughts are related to feeling insecure, anxious about taking a test or going someplace in public. Worry and distress are rampant, and can take over our lives in just a short time. Good news, there is something you can do to help change your thoughts. Bad news is it will require some energy and effort. Here are some tips that I have used successfully with myself and with the people that I work with. And yes, you read that right, with myself. Just because I am a therapist doesn’t mean I never have anxiety or worry about things.
The Argument Method. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left side of the page write your anxious thought. On the right side of the page write the argument to that thought, all the way down to the bottom. This allows you to build up the rational side of your thinking. Think about what others have said to you about that thought if you have trouble arguing with it.
“What does this mean?” Method. Often times it is not the thought itself that is a problem but what it might mean about you or about the situation. So write your anxious thought down, then ask, “”If this would be true, what does it mean?” Then write that thought down, and again ask the same question. Frequently this will lead to a deep belief that is troubling you. You can then work on that belief.
“Is this really true or important?” Method. My favorite question to ask is, “In 10 years will this really matter?” Many times the answer is NO! For example, kids worry about their test grades in high school. And though it is important to do your best and work hard, it is not the end of the world when you make a poor grade. I seriously have never had anyone ask me what grade I made on anything in high school, and that has been almost 40 years! Again, we often attach ourselves to patterns or ideas that perpetuate our anxiety or worry. Letting them go is not always easy, sometimes we have to put some elbow grease into them to get them to go away.
Being consumed by anxiety can go a lot deeper than just our thoughts. If you are struggling please let me know. Hopefully I can help you find greater peace.