Change Your Thoughts…Change Your Life
There is no doubt that we are a society that is riddled by anxiety and worry. Anxiety and worry are fear-based emotions. Fear has great merit in that it keeps us safe. It kept us out of dangerous situations with strong physiological responses like a racing heartbeat, profuse sweating, or a hypervigilance to people and things around us.
However, fear has morphed into a generalized anxiety that is fueled by our thoughts. You may have heard that we have 60 ,000 thoughts a day and most of them are negative. People who are prone to anxiety end up creating “worry thoughts” that haven’t even occurred yet. Clinicians call worry thoughts anticipatory anxiety. Worry about an event that has not occurred yet and then mentally rehearsing what you would do if the event occurred. This might be helpful in some situations like when you are on a plane in the exit row and you need to know how to deboard the plane in case of an emergency. Knowing CPR can be helpful so that you can help someone who has a medical emergency. However, there is a large population of people who spend their waking hours catastrophizing. Catastrophizing is when you think about the worst possible outcome about a situation. If you are a parent and you see that your child is heading to the playground, you may begin to worry about some potential danger if he falls from the equipment. If you are working on taxes, you may begin to wonder if you are going to owe money and if so, where you might need to access funds since you live paycheck to paycheck. If you are single, you may begin to question the many motives a dating partner may have in getting to know you. You actually worry about things that have not happened and allow those thought worries to rob you of living in the moment and enjoying what is occurring right now-right here.
There are many theorists that believe that there are only two emotions that guide a person’s emotion. They are both very powerful emotions and they direct people’s decision, choices and attitudes. The two emotions include fear and love. Now the good news is that when you are living your life and you feel fear, anxiety and worry, you have the ability to change the emotion and find a thought that supports you in your functioning.
When your plane is delayed, and you begin to worry that you will miss your connecting flight, you can use “thought stopping” and tell yourself, I believe the captain will make up the delay in the air. Everything will be just fine. You might even mention to the attendant your concern so that he can call ahead and let your connection know you will be arriving late. You get to enjoy the flight and read your book in serenity!
Your company gets audited and you begin to worry about the penalties and infractions that might occur. You change that thought and tell yourself that the audit is going to help you understand what you need to know. You might even create a folder that is labeled Audit/Business Insights. When you reframe your experience, you are more likely going to feel less fear and more confidence.
There is great empowerment in proactively changing your thoughts. There is no doubt that when you change the way you look at things, the things around you change which then changes the state of your emotions.