Whatever the motivation that triggers the anxiety you feel, in this article, I want to share with you some tips and techniques that I learned from Barry McDonagh, a coach who has taught thousands of people, on how to end the general anxiety and the panic attacks. These tips, if put in the act, will not only help you put an end to your fears but will also drastically reduce your general anxiety level.
Barry McDonagh has noticed, after many years of coaching, that what triggers anxiety and panic attacks is almost always the frequent occurrence of anxious thoughts.
Anxiety has a sneaky way of sowing doubts regardless of whether fear is rational or irrational.
So, let’s see in the following lines how to stop anxious thoughts.
Let’s suppose you are doing daily business and you’re feeling fine when a concerned idea enters your mind.
Whatever the nature of thought, the pattern that follows is usually entirely predictable.
The anxious thought flashes briefly into your awareness and, as it does so, you react spontaneously with a strange feeling similar to fear while you contemplate the view. The reaction that you have to that thought sends then a shock wave through your nervous system. At this point, you feel the result of that fear more intensely in the stomach (due to the number of nerve endings located there).
Because of the intense physical reaction to thought, you have been unconsciously led to examine the anxious idea over and over again.
The continuous reaction of fear you have to that thought increases the intensity of the experience. The more you react, the stronger the view rebounds back into your awareness creating more anxious shockwaves throughout the body; this is the typical cycle of anxious thoughts.
Some people think it that the anxious thoughts are stealing their peace.
Because of the reaction, you’re having; you can continue to spend the rest of the day thinking about the anxious thoughts you’ve experienced.
“Why am I thinking of these thoughts?” “Why can’t I get rid of this strange feeling?”
The more you try not to think about it, the more your mind focuses on it.
Of course, what you resist to, resists to you; this is the way our brain works.
First things first:
• -When you start to experience anxious thoughts, it is critical not to force the ideas away.
Let the thoughts in. The more comfortable you can become with them, the better. These thoughts will never go away entirely but what you can learn is to change your reaction to them.
By changing your reaction to the anxious thoughts, you become free of them.
Once you establish a new way of reacting to the thoughts, it does not matter if you have them or not. Your reaction is what defines the whole experience (and that applies to almost everything).
Everybody experiences fleeting thoughts that many would consider scary or crazy. The difference between most people and somebody who gets caught up in them, is that the average person sees them for exactly what they are, fleeting anxious thoughts, and casually ignores them.
The anxious person is at a disadvantage as they already have a certain level of anxiety in their system. The thoughts easily spark feelings of further anxiety which builds into a cycle of fear. You break the cycle by changing how you react to the fearful idea.
You are enjoying the way your day is going, but then all of sudden a fearful thought comes to mind.
Usually, you would react with anxiety to the idea and then try to force that thought out of your mind.
This time, however, say:
“That’s a fear of X. I could worry and even obsess over that, but this time I’m going to do something different. I’m not going to react to it. I’m also not going to try and stop it either. I’m just going to label the thought and not react.”
Then the thought comes again with more intensity and possibly with new ‘scary’ angles you never considered. When this happens, you do the same. As if you were observing a cloud passing overhead, you just:
• Observe it,
• Label it (fear of whatever), then
• Watch it as it passes by with no judgment,
• Move your attention on to what you were doing.
Observe, Label, Watch, Move On
See the anxious thought for what it is:
– One of the thousands of fleeting sane and insane thoughts every one of us experiences daily.
If you are a more indoors type of person then instead of thinking of the thoughts like clouds passing in the sky, you might try imagining a giant cinema screen, and the anxious thoughts are projected out onto the screen in front of you. Play around with this approach. Find what works for you.
When you are at a stage where you are comfortable doing the above exercise, and you feel you are making good progress, then try this additional step:
Think about one of your more regular fearful thoughts. Call the fear to you, say you want it to come close so you can observe it. It may seem like the last thing you would wish to bring upon yourself, as you don’t particularly enjoy these thoughts, but this approach can be very empowering.
By doing this, you are discharging the dense vibration of fear surrounding the anxious thought. That fear was sustaining itself on your resistance, -the idea that you could not handle these thoughts.
The fear quickly evaporates when you turn around and say “yes, of course, I can handle these thoughts.”
Fear intensifies when we pull away from it. Anxious thoughts become a mental tug of war if we struggle with them.
It is the mental struggle of pulling against the anxious thoughts that creates the inner psychological tension.
Thoughts that fuel the inner tension:
• “I can’t handle to think about this -please go away.”
• “I don’t like that though- I want it to stop!”
Take a different stance. Invite anxious thoughts in. Willingly sit with them, label them and do your very best not to react.
Yes, it does take practice, but very soon you find yourself in a unique position of control. You are no longer a victim of fearful thinking but a decision maker in what will or will not be your worries.
As with every technique, there is always a level of practice involved in the beginning. Initially, you start observing but then suddenly get anxious about the fearful thought. That’s very normal in the beginning.
Keep at it. Practice and you will quickly see how less impacting those fearful thoughts become.
Don’t let your mind trick you into believing that your anxiety is something you will have to struggle with forever. That is not true.
I hope you’ve found this information helpful. If you have any question, please leave a comment below, and I’ll be more than happy to help you out.
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