Worrying, racing thoughts is the one symptom with anxiety that can bother people the most; they do not understand how they can have such thoughts that seem so scary and come with such impact. I have heard people say they fear the beginning of O.C.D or that they have awful thoughts about those closest to them, feel that they are ‘going mad’ and that they cannot control these disturbing thoughts, they seem to come without them even thinking them. Well these do have an explanation and these worrying, disturbing thoughts really are just an off-shoot of anxiety.
The reason you seem to have your attention on yourself all day and it feels like there are many thoughts running through your mind is twofold.
1. It is
Eventually, thinking just becomes automatic, it becomes a habit. All day, every day, these thoughts seem to enter your head before you even think them. Look at it this way, when people meditate, they stop thinking for hours on end, until it becomes a habit and they can go all day without a worrying thought, which is why they feel so refreshed. Not you, your thoughts just carry on and on and when your mind is tired, like it is now, it grabs hold of every thought pulling them in and making them stick.
2. Why are some thoughts so bad? When you are in an anxious state, emotions seem to be tenfold, everything magnifies and a little problem becomes massive. Something that you could dismiss when you were healthy, can stick around all day.
These are just some of the scary thoughts on anxiety that I have come across. I call them the ‘what ifs’!
You may have said one or two of the above to yourself or recognise a fear you have. Well, I did too; it was always ‘yes, but what if?’ Well, all of these ‘what ifs?’ usually amount to nothing. They prove to be just an overactive mind playing its tricks on you. Thoughts seem to come uninvited and always seem to hold such force when we are anxious. Also, a lack of understanding of anxiety can bring these fears. Like me, you may have gone for a long time without anyone explaining to you why you feel like you do and you may not even have been told that it is anxiety. Can you see why these fears can build up in people? A lack of understanding of their condition, coupled with the habit of always thinking the worst compounds their fears. Add this to a tired mind that has lost a lot of its resilience, and you have a whole host of ‘what ifs?’.
Some people worry to the extent that they believe everything they feel is life threatening. A headache becomes a brain tumour, a stomach ache can become cancer and so on, and no matter how many times their doctor tells them there is nothing wrong with them, they are never quite convinced.
If this is you, then realise these thoughts of illness are just figments of your imagination, mainly created by your anxious state. Everything becomes magnified when we are anxious. Let these thoughts go, don’t react to them and see them as just that, thoughts that carry no weight whatsoever, no matter how loud they shout.
When we try too hard to do ANYTHING, it seems to slip further from grasp. This includes to ridding oneself of unwanted thoughts. The more you "try" to push them away, the longer they linger and the stronger their impact. When we welcome and give room to unwanted thoughts, they lose their significance and quickly diminish. When you impose a false sense of importance upon a thought, it will often appear
Time again is a great healer concerning this condition. I allowed them to flow in and flow out and I didn’t react. When I did this, I noticed the scary thoughts seem to lose their scary edge. Stop fighting them, just say: come if you wish, I am ready for you.
Don’t ever tell yourself that you must not think these thoughts. Let all thoughts come; do not run away from any of them; see them for what they are, just thoughts, exaggerated because of the way you feel. They can do you no harm and they mean nothing. They won’t be around when you recover, so pay them no respect. The best way to alleviate these intrusive thoughts is to allow them their space by NOT trying to force them out.
Why not try following a negative/scary thought through and ask yourself, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Then ask yourself if it is really going to happen? Is this thought rational in any way? If you do this, you may find an answer to a thought you have been so frightened off, so that next time these thoughts enter your head, deep down inside there will be a part of you that can see them for what they really are and let them go.
Paul David spent years after his own recovery studying the whole subject in full so he could go on to dedicate his life to helping others. He then went on to write a book entitled 'At Last a Life' telling his own story of recovery and what took him there. For more information and better understanding of the subject visit http://www.anxietynomore.co.uk.
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