There are powerful research-based approaches to stop thinking and move forward.
Anxious thoughts can overwhelm you, making it difficult to decide and take action to deal with any issues that concern you. Anxiety can also lead to over-thinking, making you more anxious, leading you to think more, and so on. How can you get out of this vicious circle? Suppressing anxious thoughts won’t work; they will just reappear, sometimes with more intensity. But there are more effective techniques that you can borrow from mindfulness-based stress reduction and cognitive-behavioral therapies.
Here are 8 strategies to help you let move forward:
- Attempt cognitive distancing
Try to see your anxious thoughts as guesses, not facts. Your mind is trying to protect you by predicting what might happen, but just because something might happen doesn’t mean it will. Look at the aim of evidence: what is the likelihood that the negative outcome will happen? Is there anything good that could happen instead? And what do you think is the most likely likelihood, based on past experience and other information you have about the situation?
- Try Cognitive Fusion
Stop merging with your thoughts. Think of your thoughts as moving data passing through your mind, rather than the aim truth of a situation. Our brains are hypersensitive to threats and dangers, as this allowed our ancestors to stay alive. Some of your thoughts may just be automatic conditioned reactions generated by a survival-oriented brain. Choose whether to believe these thoughts rather than accept them.
- Practicing mindfulness
Practice observing your thoughts rather than automatically reacting to them. Think of your thoughts as floating clouds. What attracts you and makes you want to run away? Is there a way to untangle yourself and observe your thoughts rather than react?
- Focus on direct experience
Your mind makes up stories about who you are and about your safety and self-esteem. Not all of these stories are accurate. Sometimes our mind is biased by negative past experiences. What is your experience in the present moment? Is it something that is really happening or something that could happen? Note that they are not the same thing, even though your mind may treat them the same way.
- Label things
Indicate the thought you have, rather than paying attention to its content. Observe your thoughts and when you notice a judgment (for example, how good or bad the situation is), face it and call it “Judgment”-. If you notice a concern (for example, that you are going to fail or suffer a loss), mark it as “Worrying. If you criticize yourself, call it “Critical”. This takes you away from the literal content of your thoughts and makes you more aware of your mental processes. Do you want to spend your time judging and worrying? Are there less critical or worried ways to see the situation?
- Staying in the present
Is your mind brooding over the past? Just because something negative happened in the past doesn’t mean it has to happen today. Ask yourself if circumstances or your knowledge and coping skills have changed since the last time. As an adult, you have more choice in who to associate with and more able to identify, pre-empt, or leave a bad situation than you did as a child or teenager.
- Broaden your point of view
Do you focus too narrowly on the threatening aspects of a situation rather than looking at the big picture? Anxiety causes our minds to contract and focus on the immediate threat without considering the larger context. Is this situation really as bad as your anxiety says it is? Will you still be concerned about this problem in 5 or 10 years? If not, relieve the worry.
- Decide if a thought is helpful!
Just because a thought is true doesn’t mean it’s worth focusing on, at least not all the time. If only 1 in 10 people get the job you’re looking for and you keep thinking about those odds, you may become demotivated and not even care to apply. This is an example of a thought that is true but not helpful. Focus your attention on what is useful and let the rest go!
Thank you for continue reading, please don’t forget to share this article with your family and friends.
Sharing is caring