In my last blog post about anxiety, I talked about changing our relationship to our thoughts and feelings, so that they have less power over us and our behavior.
In this second part of the series on anxiety, I will share a brief set of questions to begin that process.
The overarching goal is to have a relationship with our anxious thoughts and feelings that allows us to make a choice - so that the thoughts and feelings do not dictate our actions. To be able to move toward what matters most to us (in actions) even in the presence of discomfort, fear, and challenging thoughts.
It takes time to practice these skills, to engage with a new way of interacting with anxious thoughts and feelings. And it is worth the struggle. Because anxiety sucks.
One way to begin this process that you can do any time of day is to ask yourself some questions, and really take time to answer honestly. In this early stage – you can do this when you are feeling content, happy, engaged. Or you can dive head first into trying it when you are struggling. These questions do not have a ‘right’ answer. The answers simply give you information about your current relationship to your thoughts.
Give it a try.
When your mind runs away with you: 5 questions to ask yourself.
- What thoughts am I having?
- Am I feeling emotions about an imagined future?
- What is happening in front of me right now?
- What am I missing about now, by thinking about then?
- What do I notice about what I do when thoughts of the future show up?
One of the things that might show up as you move through these questions is: I am not having any thoughts.
Ah, if only that were true.
Our minds are always handing us thoughts. We have learned to filter most of them out, otherwise we would be overwhelmed with them! And if you can practice the skill of noticing, you may find you will start to hear some of the ones that are working well for you and the ones that are not workable, or the ones that are evoking difficult feelings. Some thoughts hook us, and drag us around with them down rabbit holes of ‘what ifs’ that go past the practicality of planning and send us headlong into worry and stress.
Notice those. Notice how you behave when they show up. Do you try to get rid of discomfort? Or can you tolerate some discomfort in the service of doing what matters to you?
Take your time. Go gently. See you soon.