Are you ready to take control of your mind and have healthy ways to manage your anxious thoughts? Last month, we looked at having a more compassionate mindset and getting to know your feelings and fears.
We can so easily destroy our self-worth while trying to tackle our fears and anxious thoughts. It is crucial to realize all humans have fears and sometimes they don’t make sense. You are not alone in your experience.
Now that you have had some time to practice having compassion for yourself, it’s time to dive deeper into how we can truly master the power of thought challenging. In today’s blog post, I’ll be discussing strategies for effectively tackling those anxious thoughts that can so often creep up on us in times when we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. So, get ready as I walk you through various methods with which you can take charge of your own mind!
Recognizing Your Anxious Thoughts
Get familiar with your anxious thoughts! The more you know, the better you can cope.
We all have anxious thoughts from time to time, but what may surprise you is the impact they have on our lives. Identifying what fears come up for you and if there are themes can make a world of difference in your mental well-being. For instance, are your fears regarding failure, death, health issues, perfectionism, etc.?
Journal Your Thoughts
A great tool to help you identify your thought patterns is to journal them and look at them daily or weekly. This way you can start to identify your fears or insecurities. For instance, are your thoughts centered around you not being good enough? In this situation, it would be helpful to work with a therapist to find ways to build your self-worth. This is deep and meaningful work that has lifelong benefits.
Explore Your Thoughts in Anxiety Therapy
Or are your negative thoughts around something bad happening on a trip? This would involve helping your mind and body develop a tolerance for fears and having your fears “washed over you” so that they slowly become less frightening. This is done by exploring them in anxiety therapy and allowing them the space to exist without avoidance. When you try to “fight your fear,” it becomes louder. When you validate and process your fear, your body and mind will relax naturally. This is a huge benefit to therapy and working with a trained therapist. It can be hard to sit with our fears on your own. Once your fears have become less triggering, you can start the process of shifting your thinking and challenging your anxious thoughts.
By cultivating a greater sense of self-awareness, we can begin to challenge or shift our anxious thought patterns and better understand the tools that will be helpful. So if you’ve been feeling stuck or overwhelmed by anxious thinking, take the first step and start recognizing your thoughts today.
Important: When you are assessing and identifying your anxious thoughts, it is crucial you don’t shame or try to get yourself to “snap out of it.” The more we force or avoid, the worse the fear or anxious thought can become. Again, this is a big misconception in this process. Many people think it is forcing a positive or realistic outlook. I wish it worked that way but the slow, kind, and thoughtful way of managing our anxious thoughts leads to better outcomes in the long run.
Challenging Your Anxious Thoughts – Re-framing, Re-Contextualizing, and Redirecting Your Thoughts
Now that we have identified the type of anxious thought we are dealing with, it’s time to get to the real work — challenging these unhelpful thoughts by finding more productive and accurate ways of thinking about them.
The goal of challenging your anxious thoughts is to reframe them, re-contextualize them, and ultimately redirect your thought process in a healthier direction.
When we say reframe your thought, we mean thinking about it in a more realistic and less catastrophic way.
For instance, if we have a fear of failure, we can start by challenging the thought that “I will always fail” to “I have failed in the past, but I am capable of learning and growing from it.” This re-contextualizes our experiences and allows us to see the situation through a more neutral and human lens.
It is important to pay attention to how our different thoughts feel in our bodies. How does your body feel when you think to yourself, “I am going to fail.” How would your body feel if you changed that thought to, “I might fail. There is always a risk of failure in life. I am doing my best and I will be okay if things don’t go the way I want them to.” When I work with clients to tweak their thoughts to be more realistic, you can see their bodies relax. We are challenging our thoughts, but really, we are creating a nicer way of talking to ourselves when we are afraid.
Re-contextualizing your thought involves looking at the thought from a different point of view or giving yourself some perspective.
For example, when I work with new parents, they may experience fears about something happening to their child. For instance, they will have an anxious thought of their child drowning. I help them shift that scary thought to, “Of course, you worry about your child getting harmed. That is coming from the love you have for your child. This fear doesn’t make you crazy or irrational. It means you are a good parent.” Notice that I didn’t tell the person their fear is unrealistic or throw facts their way. I created a new narrative for viewing their fear. I changed it from something bad happening to a sign of their love. Just that small shift will make a huge difference. The fear can sometimes steal the show and we can ignore what is beneath the fear itself. For instance, a new parent may be experiencing a fear because parenthood is a big transition, everything can feel new or scary. We need to explore that transition and sometimes in doing that work, the fears become less as a result.
Redirecting your thought to something that is more calming such as creating a support plan for when you experience this fear. When redirecting our thoughts, it gives us an action plan and allows us to create safety nets.
Now if that same parent was going to be around a pool in the future, it might be helpful to walk them through getting to know their specific fear and creating a plan of safety to help the fear. Asking questions such as, “What could you do as soon as you get to the house with a pool?” This is another way of coping with your fear or anxious thoughts. Focus on creating a support plan compared to trying to change your thinking. This is redirecting your thoughts to something you can control.
Example of Redirecting
Another example is the fear of flying. Oftentimes, we focus directly on what scares us the most such as the plane falling or us being on the plane terrified. But what if you focused on what you can do the night before to help bring down your anxiety? What if you planned on packing ahead of time and then participating in a relaxing activity? Keeping your anxiety at a lower level will help you on the day of the flight. Then it might be helpful to imagine walking through the airport and what will help you relax at each step. For instance, when you get through security, do you have a favorite snack you could grab or a book you could read? Managing your anxiety leading up to the flight will not only help your nervous system but it will help you support yourself and feel in control. Then you can think of all the tools you could use while flying. This support plan creates more calmness compared to replaying your fear over and over in your head. This will make it easier to manage and challenge your fear while on the plane.
Final Thoughts – A Journey to Thought Mastery.
We all have anxious thoughts from time to time, and by understanding why they are coming up for us and how we can effectively challenge them, we can take back the power. It takes work to truly master our thoughts, but it is a journey that will bring us more peace and clarity.
By recognizing our anxious thoughts, challenging them in constructive ways, and utilizing positive self-talk to redirect our thinking patterns, we can set ourselves up for success. Remember that this is a process, and it takes time — be patient with yourself.
In part 3, the benefits of this work will be outlined. These coping skills have a positive impact on our well-being in big ways.
Ready to Start Anxiety Therapy in Atlanta, GA?
Are anxious thoughts overwhelming you? Take the first step towards a calmer, more empowered life by seeking anxiety therapy. Learn to recognize, challenge, and redirect your anxious thoughts, paving the way for personal success and inner peace with the help of an anxiety therapist at Informed Therapy Group. Don’t let anxiety control your life – reclaim it now by following these three simple steps:
- Contact Informed Therapy Group to schedule a consultation
- Begin meeting with a skilled anxiety therapist for your first anxiety therapy session
- Learn to recognize and challenge your anxious thoughts to regain control of your anxiety!
Other Services Offered at Informed Therapy Group
At Informed Therapy Group our team of skilled therapists want to provide you with the best mental health care possible. So, in addition to starting anxiety therapy to recognize and challenge your anxious thoughts, our online Atlanta, GA practice offers therapy for stress management, depression therapy, and therapy for grief and loss. We specialize in couples therapy, pregnancy counseling, and postpartum therapy. To learn more about Informed Therapy read About Us, FAQs, and our blog!