The number one question I get from people who experience anxiety that keeps them stuck and from accomplish goals is: How do I overcome my anxious thoughts? This blog is going to provide you with the absolute most effective strategies I use to help women take control of their minds.
A Thought is Just a Thought!
What if I told you that there is always a choice in how you think? Many of you are yelling- “bull-shite! I can’t control my thoughts, they control me!” I used to think the same thing, until I learned how to manage my mind.
You only think your thoughts control you. We let those annoying pains in the arses run ram shot through our brains untethered, allowing them to control us. But we do have a choice. With the right tools you will be able to stop your anxious thoughts from running you.
What is a Thought and Why do we Believe they are True?
What are thoughts? Merriam-Webster defines a thought as “an idea, plan, opinion, picture, etc., that is formed in your mind: something that you think of”. The problem with thoughts is that our brains take them as truth. But not all thoughts are correct. In fact, often they are anything but true, yet we believe them without question. We allow those thoughts to hold us hostage because of the meaning we give them, factual or not, and we allow them to take hold and drive the proverbial bus.
These thoughts take hold and spark a chain reaction of emotional response followed by actions and results to match. Negative thoughts produce undesirable emotional states. And what do these emotional states produce? You guessed it, less that awesome actions and results!
Tools to Overcome those Anxious Beasts!
The first thing we need to assert our control over our minds is to recognize that we are having irrational unproductive thoughts running amuck through our heads. I am going to share a tool I use to first become aware of these thoughts.
I utilize an exercise called thought downloading. This remarkably simple exercise will help you to get all your thoughts out on paper so you can see what is inside that pretty little head.
Thought Download Exercise
Step 1. Grab a piece of paper. Find yourself a quiet place to write for 10-15 minutes. Now just write down every thought that pops up into your mind. Do not overthink this! Beside each thought, describe the feeling the thought causes. This is not fancy. Just write! Your thought download may look something like this:
Thought-I am so fat/Feeling-shame.
Thought-I work so hard and nobody even notices/Feeling-frustrated
Thought-I really want a burrito, right now/Feeling-hangry
You get the picture.
Step 2. Examine the list. Do not judge either your thoughts or feelings. They are neutral. It is only when we assign meaning to the thought or feeling that it becomes good or bad, right or wrong. Thoughts and feeling do not possess moral value. I will say it again, thoughts and feelings do not possess moral value!
Step 3. Pick one of those thoughts and download the Overcoming Anxious Thoughts Worksheet. The exercise will help you to discover if the thought is in fact true or a story you are telling yourself. You will discover that the thought is creating the negative feeling you are experiencing. You can restructure your negative thoughts by approaching each one with a new perspective. This new perspective will restructure the thought, change the emotions attached to the thought, and challenge you to create new actions from those newly formed positive emotions.
Overcoming Anxious thoughts worksheet
The Overcoming Anxious Thoughts Worksheet is a wonderful self-coaching tool to begin the process of not believing everything you think. The process is mind bending when you finally realize how your negative thought patterns cause anxious thoughts which create your less than stellar results.
Mending Minds, Changing Lives