We all experience those moments when we just want to run away from our thoughts, our chest tightens, our palms are sweaty, the breathing is short and the world feels like it is caving in on you.
It is those moments when you feel no one will be able to understand, how could they, ‘nobody knows the troubles I see’, is the song that comes to mind.
Whether it is losing the love of your life, a motor vehicle accident, losing your job, making mistakes after mistakes, hearing that dreaded news of having cancer, losing your dream home to foreclosure, you can calm those anxious thoughts running around in your head.
Here are some ways to consider:
See your thoughts as ideas and not facts running around in your head. Your mind is trying to protect you by predicting what could happen—but just because something could happen doesn’t mean it will. Look at objective evidence: How likely is it that the negative outcome will happen? Is there anything good that might happen instead? And which do you think is most likely to happen, based on experience and other information you have about the situation?
Here and Now
This had happened to me before? We all do it, we live in the past but what happened in the past may not happen today or even tomorrow. Ask yourself if the circumstances, or your knowledge and coping abilities, have changed since the last time. As a child, I had little control over what happened then, but as an adult, I have more choices in how to handle the situation, why not use the past as a learning instrument instead of a reason to panic?
Practice soothing words
Practice observing your thoughts, rather than reacting automatically to them. Think of your thoughts as clouds floating by. Which draw you in and which make you want to run away? Is there a way you can untangle yourself and just observe your thoughts, rather than reacting? Is there a way you can tell yourself, these are just clouds they will go away?
Defusing from your thoughts
You are a failure, you will fail again! Really? Sometimes our minds are biased by negative past experiences. What is your experience in the present moment? Is this something that is happening or something that might happen? Notice that they are not the same thing, even though your mind may treat the thought as the same.
With a made-up mind
I just loved hearing that song, what are you focusing on, rather than seeing the whole picture? Anxiety makes our minds contract and focuses on the immediate threat without considering the broader context. Is this situation as important as your anxiety says it is? Will you still care about this problem in 2 months or 2 years? If not, then ease up on the worry.
Do your thing
Worrying over something whether there is an immediate solution or not is wasting time. It may make you less likely to act by feeding your anxiety. When your mind is stuck in a loop, you can interrupt it by getting up and moving around or doing a different task or activity. When you sit back down, you should have a different perspective. When I was working in corporate I would panic when it was Sunday evening to go to work the next day, on a Monday morning I had to drag myself out of bed, the pain was real.
The marriage was failing, my anxious mind was in charge, and so I made it very difficult for her to love me. Each situation was made difficult because of my negativity and so what could have been a successful marriage, or a beautiful work experience was made impossible because I thought I cannot get it right but I was wrong.
Calm Your Anxiety
If only 1 in 10 people will get the job you seek, and you keep thinking about those odds, you may become demotivated and not even bother applying. This is an example of a thought that is true but not helpful. Focus your attention on what is helpful and let the rest go!