Prisoner of Thought
It's easy to forget that we create our experience of life through our thoughts. Nothing external has the power to make us feel a certain way - it’s what we’re thinking about that thing that creates those feelings.
As human beings we are constantly thinking; there is a stream of thought running through our minds all day long. Every single thought comes and goes, never staying constant, always changing. And attached to every thought is a feeling.
It’s reassuring to remember that everyone has anxious or fearful thoughts, it’s just that very often we feel as though we are the only ones! And that in itself can exacerbate our problem, as we may start to believe there is something weird or wrong with us for feeling this way. We become a prisoner of our thoughts; quite literally trapped in a thought and unable to move out of it.
Anxious and fearful thoughts are healthy and normal; we need them. They are there to protect us - a primeval instinct that has kept us safe and well since humans first evolved. But in the modern world our protective mechanisms can get triggered for all sorts of things that aren’t a real threat to our survival; public speaking, social situations, travelling, taking tests or exams - to name just a few! Very often what we are most afraid of is anticipatory fear - quite literally we are afraid of being afraid! This is why we cannot always trust what we are thinking.
Getting our mindset right is so important. If we believe that life is happening TO us (victim mentality) rather than FOR us, then we are far more likely to feel a loss of control and powerlessness, which in turn can lead to anxious or fearful thoughts, depression or anger.
What thoughts trigger your anxiety? Spend some time observing the thoughts that come and go in your mind, and notice which ones cause an emotional or physical response within you.