Thinking Errors That Cause Anxiety

Wherever You Go, There You Are is a wonderful book on mindfulness written by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It reminds us that we cannot escape our thinking and that no matter what we do, our mindset goes with us. We can try to run away from ourselves by vacationing, shopping, eating and so on however, it is still you who is doing all of those things.

The Anxious Mental Narrative

For those of us who experience anxiety, our mental narrative tends to be skewed to the negative disproportionally and inappropriately. Since our thoughts are often not realistic and instead fabrications of our over-active and often destructive imagination, our lives get tossed around like a leaf blowing in a windstorm. We end up feeling overwhelmed and in a state of panic by the narrative that we are playing in our minds. We spend more energy and time reviewing what may be showing up as opposed to enjoying the beauty and peace of the present moment.

The best strategy to deal with this internal narrative is to first to realize that our thoughts are not always based on fact and that often these thoughts can lead to problems in our lives. Who hasn’t had a conversation with someone based on some crazy assumption that was conjured up in our own mind, only to find that the assumption was completely without merit? If you are lucky, you walked away only with egg on your face. However, sometimes these conversations lead to the destruction of a relationship. How about the dialogue that we tell ourselves about our health? If you are honest with yourself, is your self-talk helping you or hurting your health?

We all slip into erroneous thinking from time to time. Noticing and gently amending our thinking errors can help prevent anxiety from overwhelming us. Anxiety is often the outcome of a barrage of negative thinking – so give it up, like a bad habit.

The Thinking Errors of Anxiety

Here are the main thinking errors that anxious people tend to gravitate towards. Do you recognize any of these?

  1. Catastrophizing

This is the thinking error that I am most familiar with. I have to purposefully change this thinking every day. This way of thinking is about imagining things are much worse than they actually are. It becomes like a snowball going downhill once you let in a negative thought. It sounds a lot like, “It’s all hopeless”, or “it’s the end of the world”. The best strategy is to remind yourself that there are many ways that things can work out.

  1. Disqualifying the Positive

This is the “Yeah, but…” thinking style. This thinking style involves taking anything that is positively presented and disqualifying it and slamming it with a negative angle. It is seeing the glass half empty instead of half full. It is seeing the whole week as bad when we had maybe one bad day or maybe only one bad hour or meeting. By seeing the positive along with the negative, this thinking error can be toned down simply.

  1. Overgeneralization

When you overgeneralize, you think that “one bad apple ruins the bunch”. It is taking an experience and assuming that all experiences will go that way. For people with anxiety, overgeneralizing greatly limits their world because they tend to avoid repeating any experience that may have not gone to plan in the past. Recognizing the thought pattern and pushing oneself to face the experience again is the best way to change this habit.

  1. Mindreading

We sometimes convince ourselves that we are psychic, and that we know exactly what another person is thinking. When we do, we are trying to mindread. We never know what someone else is thinking and yet we hear ourselves saying “I know that he/she doesn’t like me.” When you catch yourself mindreading, challenge yourself with a simple question such as, “how do I know with certainty?”

  1. Black and White Thinking

Do you allow for shades of grey in your thinking? Is it all or nothing? Is your thinking, “you are either with me or against me”, or “take it or leave it”? Black and white thinking does not allow for options to be discovered and many times the answers to the problems causing our anxiety come from solutions that we could never have imagined. Recognize that shades of grey do exist and can open up to new ideas and amazing outcomes.

Regardless of if you are wanting a better personal or professional life, recognizing the thinking that is triggering your anxiousness and replacing it with more constructive thinking is a great way to experience more calmness. Soon you will see how you can re-write the story of your daily life in a more productive and happier manner with a lot less anxiousness.

If you are curious about how my coaching can help you permanently change your thinking errors and allow you experience a life with less anxiousness, sign up for a complimentary consultation.

Let’s Connect 

How can you practice imagination today?  What in your life can you build an imaginary story around?  What’s stopping you from imagining – nothing! 

If you are curious about how my coaching services can help you access your greater, unlimited self and move you away from a life of anxiety, sign up for a complimentary consultation. 

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram. 

To our Health and Wellbeing, 

Karen 

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Kindness Can Reduce Anxiety

Years ago, when my anxiety was at its worst and before I experienced the powerful transformation that can come from neurolinguistics, there was one activity that helped me reduce my relentless anxiety. This activity was volunteer work. I chose to become a volunteer with a local pet therapy organization. I was fortunate to have an amazing chihuahua as a pet. She had a kind and sweet personality and socializing seemed like a good fit for both her and I. I looked forward to getting out of the house each week, interacting with others and witnessing the joy that my little dog brought others who were struggling with their own health challenges.

How Volunteering Can Help Anxiety

I soon noticed that making a deliberate attempt to brighten another person’s day by doing something thoughtful and caring made me feel less anxious in my own life. I realized that volunteering took me out of my mind and forced me to focus on the present moment. Very soon after signing up, I was feeling much happier and content overall. I found I could stay centered in gratitude for my life and all that I had. My awareness of my own good fortune was heightened. As an added bonus, I was blessed with some amazing friendships formed on the basis of our shared sense of connection to the hospital.

Today, I find other ways to volunteer my time. I am still involved in the local hospital however, now working on a committee that raises money to fund vital, underfunded equipment.  Each and every time I get together with the people in this organization, I get a strong sense of community and belonging.  This sense of belonging brings a huge sense of calm to me.

Why do Acts of Kindness Help Anxiety?

So why does practicing acts of kindness help with anxiety? First, it releases energy and when we are feeling anxious, we typically have an over-abundance of energy. Secondly, it releases the neurochemicals that are associated with feeling good. Neurochemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. And generally, it enhances physical health because usually negative physical health is precipitated by stress.

Today, volunteer work is on my list of ongoing activities that I undertake to manage my anxiety.  It is part of my anxiety-management routine along with exercise, getting enough sunlight and managing my sleep routine.

I encourage you to look into what volunteer work might interest you and then get involved.  You will soon find that the more you give, the more you get.

Let’s Connect

How can you practice imagination today?  What in your life can you build an imaginary story around?  What’s stopping you from imagining – nothing!

If you are curious about how my coaching services can help you access your greater, unlimited self and move you away from a life of anxiety, sign up for a complimentary consultation.

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

You Can Walk Away from Anxiety

Picture it. You are struggling with anxiety again. Your heart is racing. You haven’t slept well in weeks, maybe months. Your mind is jumping from thought to thought and no matter what you do, you can’t make it stop. You’ve been here before and you know it is a long, tough road ahead to get out.  You just want it gone.

And then you talk with someone who tells you assuredly that you are not broken and all you have to do is get rid of some thinking that is running and ruining your life. She makes it sound so easy and effortless. You can’t believe it. You don’t know if you should believe it.  Oh, but you so want to.

This is How I Walked Away from Anxiety & Now My Life’s Mission

This is how my personal story of walking away from anxiety started and it ended up with me experiencing the liberating relief of my life-sucking anxiety gone. This led to my life’s mission: to tell as many people as possible that there is a way to walk away and it is achievable for everyone because the approach works every time.

What Would You Gain if You Had No More Anxiety? 

Would you gain your health back? Would you repair an existing relationship?   Maybe you would attract a new relationship?  How would your interaction with money change?  I bet you would be able to attract and hold onto money better. How about your family life?  Maybe all those relationships would improve as well. How about your performance at work?  Imagine the benefit and advantage of being clear-headed and focused every day.

Real Change Requires Real Commitment

In order to make lasting change, we must commit.  The reality for me was that if I wanted my anxiety gone I needed to commit to the therapy this woman was offering. The commitment was for 3 months.   I also needed to commit to doing the work, showing up to my weekly sessions, and having an open mind.  I also needed to let go of my illusion that I could do this alone.  I needed help and that was okay.

I am here to tell you that it doesn’t matter how your anxiety shows up.  There are many different types of anxiety. From social anxiety to fear of uncertainty to panic disorders; they are all rooted in some catastrophic, self-limiting, disaster-predicting thinking that we just can’t get past on our own.  The thing about this thinking is that it took root when we were just kids and by now, it has been running on autopilot for so long that it has become full-on belief with all of the support and validation that it needs to run the show on a daily basis.

How Would Your World Change When Your Belief is de-mythed?   

Just like how the bigger world changed when the belief that it was flat was debunked, your world which includes your family friends, work, health will also change when your “the world is flat” belief is no longer showing up.

You can recover from anxiety. I walked away, well actually I ran away, from my anxiety and you can too.

Let’s Connect

How can you practice imagination today?  What in your life can you build an imaginary story around?  What’s stopping you from imagining – nothing!

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

Life’s Ups and Downs

There are not many guarantees in life. However, here’s one – life will have both ups and downs.

The fallacy that some of us buy into is that the least amount of ‘downs’ is an assurance of a happy life.  But that is simply not true.  Life isn’t about the number of ups and downs a person experiences as much as it is about how smoothly we ride these inevitable hills and valleys.

Recognizing a Down Period in Your Life

Recently, I have been going through what I would label as a down period in my life.  Something that I was looking forward to happening has turned out to now be highly unlikely.  Initially, my reaction was one of sadness, frustration and even anger.  I felt ripped off and I convinced myself that I was the only person who ever had to experience such disappointing news.  I heard a lot of “poor me” self-talk going on in my head.

Change the Focus from that Specific Event to Your Life as a Whole

Once I caught myself doing this. I kicked myself in the butt.  I told myself to get out of the narrow focus that fixating on the disappointment creates.From that vantage point I saw nothing other than the down side.   I spent some time expanding my focus, pulling back and getting my perspective to be anchored in the middle ground of my life.

From this vantage point, I could see my life in its entirety, my past and my future and from that perspective I could then appreciate that this “change of plans” was just one of the many detours that my life has taken already or will likely take in the future.  It was no longer the pivotal moment that would define my entire life.  It was no longer the one event that would change everything.   And then something magical happened.  The event lost its negativity.  And I was able to start imagining how this event may open up new opportunities that I could not even conjure up right now.  How this “change in plans” may make my future life even better.

Our Ups and Downs Are the Spice of Life

These ups and downs in life is what gives our life colour, story, direction and even humour.  Imagine being on a teeter totter and you only stay in the up position, you never experience coming down and seeing the ride from that position.  You would lose so much of the ride’s excitement.  You would not experience the anticipation of going up again and being at the top.  What a dull and uneventful ride it would be!  Who would want to experience that?

So, the next time you or I are riding the down portion of our teeter totter life, let’s remember that, like being at the high point, the down point also won’t last forever.  And it is the experiencing of both extremes, the up and the down, that make the ride enjoyable.

Let’s Connect

How can you practice imagination today?  What in your life can you build an imaginary story around?  What’s stopping you from imagining – nothing!

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

Balancing Life’s Priorities

Over the years, I have come to realize that multi-tasking and taking on too many duties is a direct contributor to symptoms like increased heartbeat, fatigue, headaches, difficulty with concentration, nausea and sweating.  Many times, I mistakenly attributed these physical symptoms with anxiety when in fact they were symptoms of simply not prioritizing my life. I foolishly thought that because my life was running in all directions and I was feeling frazzled that there must be something wrong with me and most likely it was anxiety.

The Busier We Get, The Quicker We Lose Sight of Our Priorities

In actuality, as I became more and more trapped in the endless cycle of work, errands and other responsibilities, I lost sight of the things that were important to me: maintaining a good emotional state and a good quality of life.  I was so consumed with meeting everyone else’s needs and wishes that I did not give myself the time to check-in to make sure I was putting my energy on what was foremost for me.  Days, weeks, months and even years would pass by. All without me ensuring that I was focused on what was genuinely important to me.  This behaviour led to sleepless nights because I could not shut off my brain. Then during the day I felt debilitated by all that was still ahead of me to do.

Today, how do I stop myself from falling into this trap of feeling those out-of-control feelings? 

I surround myself predominately with people that support me, my priorities and my values.  I make sure I have relationships that inspire me and energize me rather than only demand energy from me and hold me back.

Also, and very importantly, I frequently evaluate where I spend my time. I do this in order to discover how I can find more time for my priorities.  I track where I am spending time in the areas of work, exercise, meals, time with loved ones, time spent on hobbies, sleep, meditation – everything and anything.  Then I step back. I look at how I can change the way I am spending my time to focus on my priorities.

Take Stock of Your Relationships

In addition, I take stock of my relationships.  Who do I want to make more time for? And who do I need to let go of to be able to thrive?  I have also become okay with not everyone supporting my core values and priorities.  I have found that when I think about my relationships, some people drain my energy and harm my sense of well-being. And when I realize that my priorities have shifted, I re-evaluate who I spend most of my time with.

By holding myself accountable for my priorities and making small changes to focus on what’s really important, I feel more confident, joyful and less anxious every day.   I also remember the old adage, we are only busy with the things that we say yes to.

Let’s Connect

How can you practice imagination today?  What in your life can you build an imaginary story around?  What’s stopping you from imagining – nothing!

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

Panic Attacks

What Is a Panic Attack?

If you have ever experienced one then you can probably clearly explain the body sensation of an attack. Heart palpitations, sweating, trembling and shaking, feeling nausea and dizzy are what are most common to people.  What is equally scary however is the fear of losing control and even dying.

During the years of living with my anxiety, I had a number of panic attacks. Some worse than others and some forcing me to go to the hospital convinced that I was having a heart attack. What I found out later was that due to the intensity of the symptoms that a panic attack can bring on, they tend to mimic those of heart disease and breathing disorders and that it is common for people experiencing a panic attack to be convinced they are having a life-threatening issue.

What is annoying about panic attacks is that they can occur unexpectedly. Doesn’t matter if you start out feeling calm or anxious, the attack can occur regardless. And since they are so unpleasant to experience and very frightening, you end up becoming worried about having another panic attack.

Detecting The Onset of An Attack

Through my trial and error with panic attacks I discovered that having a plan, a way to respond when one came one was the best approach for me. It reduced my ongoing worry about getting another attack because I felt more confident that I could manage myself out of one and it also reduced the length of time that I was experiencing the symptoms of the attack. Here is what I found worked for me.

What Works For Me

Firstly, I just recognize that I am feeling afraid and starting to panic.  I found it is best to not ignore the symptoms and pretend they are not happening.  I also remind myself that I am not in danger.  Usually the thought of being in danger accompanies panic attacks.   I  found that reminding myself that I am safe is very useful.  How I do this is I look around and say to myself, “See, you are fine.  You are safe.  You are secure.”

Next, I choose to not fight the feeling.  This goes against all of my instinct.  I just say to myself, “Well, it looks like I am having a panic attack right now.”  Then, I allow myself to just accept the symptoms. I see the physical sensations that I am experiencing as a logical and expected response to whatever thoughts I am having that are causing the panic. My body is functioning exactly as it should, and I know that my thoughts are creating the physical response. I thank my body for being so well-built and responsive.  This is a nice twist to what I used to do which was to worry and struggle which actually made it worse.

I then remind myself that I have been through this before and it always ended.  I remember that my last panic attack and the one before that and the one before that all came to an end and so this one will also end.

Grounding Exercises 

And lastly and most importantly, I focus on something outside of myself.  I find that getting into the present moment and focusing on something that is in my sight I can stop my imagination from making up the future stories that are negative and which are probably triggering the panic in the first place.  I stop any thinking that is accompanied by “what if….” by turning my focus on something is actually happening right in front of me.  I then work with my body by relaxing it using breath work.  Relaxing the muscles of my jaw, neck, shoulders and back really help.  I also make sure I am not standing rigid with muscles tensed and that I am NOT holding my breath.

I have found that by following these simple steps I can start making myself feel better rather quickly when a panic attack comes on.  Sometime I have to do the steps a couple of times before I start to see any results.  The important thing is to keep doing them and not give up.

You’re Not Alone

Panic is a normal response to either a real or imagined situation.  If you are like me and it is your mind making up “what if…” stories that are triggering the panic, then give the steps that I use a try and see if you can shorten the length and number of attacks you are experiencing. And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen

Anxiety vs Anxiety Disorder

Do you feel unsettled? Have you spent the night tossing and turning in your bed because you can’t sleep? Do you worry excessively? Are you feeling exceptionally stressed and rattled lately? Is something hindering you from functioning properly and being productive? If yes, then you are most likely experiencing anxiety.
There is nothing wrong with being anxious. Everyone gets anxious at some point in their lives, especially before big events. However, if your anxiety drags on for days and affects your daily living, then it is a problem.

What is Anxiety?

Many people use the word anxiety freely. But what really is it?
Anxiety is a strong emotion that is characterized by worrying, nervousness, and being uneasy because of something that is uncertain. How easy it is to define in words, but if you are the one experiencing the anxiety, you know it is not easy or simple.

The Fight or Flight Response

The strong emotion called anxiety is actually related to our fight or flight response. This means it is perfectly normal for a person to feel agitated, nervous, worried or experience difficulty sleeping – especially before a big event.
What is it exactly? It traces back to when man roamed the surface of the Earth endlessly to hunt for food and find a safe place to live. Our ancestors, being exposed to a life of endless running and endless hunting just to survive, developed the fight or
flight response. It is the body’s natural response to when we sense danger.
When our ancestors felt threatened, their bodies released several hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to help them prepare physically in case they needed to fight or run. Our body releases hormones that are meant to keep us physically, yet temporarily, well-equipped – like making our hearts beat faster for better blood circulation. These hormones also make us more alert to our surroundings. And once the threatening situation is out of the way, our bodies start to relax by releasing hormones that encourage muscle relaxation.
If you have experienced an adrenaline rush you must have felt how your whole body shook after the adventure. This normally happens as the body is relaxing the muscles.
Anxiety becomes a problem when it is overwhelming and constant. it may hamper everyday living by making it impossible to eat, sleep, concentrate, and even do our jobs. It is a disorder, a mental health diagnosis, when excessive and significant worry, apprehension and fear are present.

Anxiety Can Be Lethal in the Long Run

Although the symptoms of anxiety will not kill you, the long-term effects of living with stress hormones turned on can lead to life-threatening illnesses. The best thing that you can do for yourself, your family and those you love is to get help with how you manage your anxiety. Therapeutic approaches have proven to be extremely effective in generating life-long elimination of anxiety.

Let’s Connect

My personal journey away from a decade destroyed by anxiety is now my motivation to help others. You can read about my story or listen to my podcast (both can be found on my website). I explain how I discovered the miracle of neurolinguistics and belief-change modalities. My hope is that you find it inspiring and motivational so you can also turn away from anxiety disorder forever.I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen

Why do we Self-Sabotage?

It has been a difficult start to 2019 for me.  

began the year doing all of the necessary things to ensure that I was starting off on the right foot – I set goals, I outlined strategies, I made detailed plans, and I landed on targets for both my personal and business life and yet…. for some reason, I have completely ignored my personal goals. I have been blocking myself from doing what it is that I want to do for my own health and well-being. My self-sabotaging behaviour, which has looked very much like shooting myself in my own foot, is preventing me from being my best, healthiest self.    

I am baffled as to why I am doing this kind of self-sabotage behaviour and I am also very interested and motivated to stop it. I know that one of the easiest ways to self-sabotage yourself is to NOT set clear, specific goals. Not having clarity or precision on where you are going allows you to convince yourself easily that your goal is not important. This however was not where I am letting myself down. I have clear and well-defined targets. So why am I not achieving them? After some reflection, I have come up with three reasons.  

I am doing too much 

I am realizing that I am doing too much as it relates to my commitments to others and therefore I am feeling like I am running on empty. I am putting myself last too often and when I have time for myself it consequently feels like a chore instead of something that is enjoyable and a well-deserved treat. 

I am over-blending 

When I am not working, I need to not work. When I am taking time off, I need to completely unplug, thus allowing myself the time and leisure to enjoy self-care. By taking up bits of time on my days off to fit in some work duties here and there, I am actually chewing into the opportunitfor me to explore what it is that I want to do for myself. What I want to do is not always obvious. Some days I want to go for a walk. Other days I want to visit a friend. Some days I want to go shopping or get myself to a yoga class. These decisions need to be fully explored and by jamming my off days with busy work at every opportunity, I am not giving myself the time to investigate.  

I am managing stuff that isn’t mine 

When I step outside of my own business and try to control things in other people’s lives, I start to feel disempowered. And rightfully so because outside of our own lives, I have no power to affect anything else. This activity is wasting my precious time and energy, and is leaving me depleted and not excited about doing anything for my own self-care.  

So with these revelations and the honest self-talk that comes with them,  I have decided to change my approach to my personal goals around self-care. I am going to set clear and consistent boundaries with others ensuring that I am preserving and protecting my energy and time. I am also going to begin to block off time and respect that it means that I am off of work completely. No more sneaking into my office to look at emails or complete a half-done article. And lastly, I am going to come back to my own business. I am going to focus only on things that are in my arena to manage – within my power to control like: my actions, my perspectives, and my attitudes. 

Are you self-sabotaging? Are you struggling with indulgences like procrastination, distraction, overwhelm? Can you realize that when we say we want something and we don’t make sure it happens we are only hurting ourselves and preventing our own greatness? 

I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen

Are You Responding or Reacting?

Here is a question for you. In general, do you tend to respond or do you tend to react to life? At first you may say, “Aren’t they the same thing?” Actuallythey are not and how you perceive their difference can have a huge impact on how happy you areIt did for meOn my journey out of relentless anxiety, the above question about responding or reacting catapulted my transformation towards healing. 

My Journey 

When I started my journey out of anxiety, I was not even aware that every day I was choosing how I was thinking about my life. Wasn’t life just happening to me? I thought I was supposed to just respond to it in the best way I could? Wasn’t I just a helpless victim? I clearly saw my life as a random set of happenstances that I had to find a way to deal with the best I could. 

During my experience with transformational coaching, I began to see that my life was not a force outside of my control and by stepping up to the fact that I could always choose how I was going to respond to anything that was occurring, that I indeed had control of my life. In any situation, good or bad, I could always choose the most empowering response for myself. For the first time in my life, I felt both powerful and calm at the same time!  

The Hard Truth 

And then one day I was told something by my coach which was initially upsetting however it was exactly what I needed to hear, “Karen”, she said, “your life, as it exists today, is the sum total of all of the conscious and unconscious decisions you have made to date.” What? I was responsible for my shitty life! It took some time for me to accept this notion of responsibility fully and completely and when I finally did, it was liberating. As a matter of fact, it is perhaps the single most liberating thing I have ever done. I was off the hook for playing the victim. Although I didn’t like where I had directed my life to at that point, the single act of taking responsibility was empowering.    

The Responsibility is Ours 

To take full responsibility for both our past and current experiences is indeed empowering because when we blame others or situations, we are giving our power away. And when we do that, we are saying that something outside of ourselves is causing a reaction within us. When we take ownership of our response, even when others are at fault or are wrong, we control both our behaviour and our life’s direction. 

Over the years since my experience with transformational coaching, I have made a clear switch in my thinking.  Negative stuff still does happen and it happens to all of us, however it is how we respond, and how we view the circumstances and conditions that makes the difference between happiness and no happiness.    

Are you ready for happiness to show up?  And are you ready to respond and not react?  If you are, learn more about how transformational coaching can move you from victim to controller of your life. 

I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen