At some point we all experience fear and worry for many reasons and to different degrees. Anxiety is stimulated when these concerns begin to excessively cloud your mind and judgment. But really, what is fear, and how do your thoughts impact it and lead to anxiety? Gaining this understanding will help you to improve and become more conscious of your thinking patterns, thus resulting in reduced anxiety.
Growing up I was taught that FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real. It’s something I repeated over and over to myself early on, but its significance and truth were not confirmed until much later in life.
Anxiety activation begins with an illogical or dysfunctional thought – yes something as simple as a thought can send you on a downward emotional spiral. You find yourself creating a sequence of bad events in your head of all the things that could possibly take place.
You may be thinking...“why is this wrong, I’m preparing myself, right?” Unfortunately no, these thoughts have no supporting basis, no EVIDENCE. Do not believe EVERYTHING you think. Irrational reasoning does not equal fact, instead it leads to self-inflicted anxiety.
Here are two tips that you can implement to help lessen irrational, anxiety-arousing thinking:
1. Pay more attention to your thoughts. This level of awareness will help you identify when your thoughts become unreasonable and self-defeating. You bring about what you think about. Try focusing on the things that you want to bring forth, instead of the things you don’t. Worrying doesn’t prevent bad things from happening, it robs you of the mindfulness that equips you to logically handle any outcome (good or bad).
2. Adopt a solution-focused attitude. Concerns will arise, and it’s up to you to be either proactive or reactive. Resolving an issue is not a time to create more difficulties for yourself. Proactive people assess issues and look for solutions. Reactive people assess issues and create a problem for every solution. Once you learn these new methods of dealing with stress you will be able to incorporate and practice them in similar future situations.
Practicing these steps makes you more attentive to your anxiety triggers and the thinking patterns that may cause them. Achieving this puts you on the right track of reducing stress and your levels of anxiety.
Written by Brianna Colbert, MA, LLPC.