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?
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
To our Health and Wellbeing,