If you want to learn a foolproof way to control anxiety and stop worrying, this is for you.
First, just a little bit of helpful info about anxiety.
Anxiety is largely driven by your thoughts.
Even though we typically notice anxiety as an emotional and even physical experience, it begins—and is maintained—in the mind.
When your thoughts are consumed by worries, this of course puts your brain, body and emotions on alert. Tension rises, thoughts race, and the cycle continues.
Because the human mind was programmed for survival in the ancient past and therefore attuned to possible dangers and threats, we often tend to hyper-focus on negative possible outcomes.
We mentally project into the future or fill in the unknowns with predictions about worst possible outcomes in an unconscious effort to protect and prepare.
Most of the time however, especially when thinking becomes repetitive ruminating, the pattern is unproductive and unhelpful.
It’s easy to forget that by pondering the “what ifs…” as only negative possibilities, that we are only looking at one possible outcome.
What about other possibilities, such as things going better than expected?
Here is one mental trick you can use to control anxiety and stop worrying:
However, most of the time, people ask all the wrong questions—the unhelpful ones such as, “what if ___ goes wrong?” “what if I can’t ___?” or “what if ___ doesn’t work out?” and this only increases anxiety, without really solving anything.
Asking the “right” questions helps stop the cycle of worry and anxiety in its tracks.
This method is also known as “Socratic” questioning, and it’s extraordinarily simple, yet effective.
The basic steps are to 1) identify your anxious or negative thought/worry, and then 2) put it to the test by asking the right questions.
So what are the “right questions?”
Here are some of the best questions to ask yourself (and answer) when you feel stuck in worry and anxiety:
“What’s the best case scenario? Knowing the worst and best case scenarios, what’s likely to happen?
What’s the evidence for this thought? What’s the evidence against this thought?
Am I looking at all the evidence, or just what supports my thought?
Is this thought on facts, or feelings?
Am I making any assumptions?
Is this a ‘black & white / all or nothing’ thought when reality is usually more complex?
Might other people have different interpretations of the situation?
What would [close friend] say about this?
What would I tell [close friend] to encourage or help them feel better?
Could my thought be an exaggeration of what’s true?
Am I having this thought out of habit, or do the facts truly support it?
Is this thought a likely scenario, or a worst case scenario?
Asking yourself these kinds of questions is helpful because it engages your logical, rational mind and helps you see the situation from different perspectives.
In other words, it helps you break out of your limiting box of anxious thinking.
By counterbalancing the anxious thoughts and worries with more rational assessments, you balance out your emotional response to the situation as well.
This helps you calm down, slow down, and approach things anew.
So the next time you catch yourself spiraling down the cycle of anxiety and worry, remember to stop and ask yourself the right questions.
This will really help you to control anxiety and stop worrying.
So what worries have you had lately? Where do your thoughts tend to go when you’re anxious? What are your favorite techniques for combatting worry and anxiety?
Please feel free to comment! And whatever it may be, try putting your worry through its paces by asking these questions.
Then notice what feels different. Do you feel a sense of relief? Can you breathe a little easier? Do you feel more hopeful about the situation? More calm or neutral? Or at least able to handle it?
Thanks for reading friends, and as always – BE WELL!
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