Anyone who has experienced anxiety knows, it’s no laughing matter. Anxiety can be debilitating for some. Many people have reported that anxiety can trigger depression. Symptoms of anxiety differ from person to person and can range from heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, pressure on the chest, thinking you are dying, and the list goes on. So how do you combat anxiety? There are different ways to cope with symptoms, but if you want to get to the root of the issue then let’s look at your thinking patterns. On average a person has sixty thousand thoughts in a day. Two thirds of those thoughts are typically going to be negative. So we do a lot of what has been called “stinking thinking” all day long. 

This “stinking thinking” is what the clinical community refers to as distorted thinking patterns. Our brain comes up with a thought or perception of a situation. It is then our job to dispute the thought if it’s not true. Unfortunately, for many people they do not challenge these initial negative thoughts. Because of this, they form an automatic response to believe many if not all of them. The problem with this is that when we believe a thought to be true but it’s not, we can experience an intense emotion or practice a behavior based on a thought or perception that is a lie. Then this causes internal conflict and or even external conflict depending on how we behave. The fact of the matter is we only have control over two things in our lives: our behaviors and how we challenge our thoughts. 

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For example, you are in a crowded room and you see a group of people whom you do not know glance your way. Your immediate thought is that this group of people are talking about you. If you believe this to be true, you could experience an extreme emotion of anger or fear. This emotion could then, if you let it, impact how you behave. The behavior could be that you decide to confront the crowd and accuse them of talking about you. Or you could simply leave the room because you feel unwelcome. 

Having emotions is natural, but if your emotions stem from a distorted thinking pattern, then you are naturally going to experience more emotional discomfort, which in turn could lead to ongoing patterns of anxiety. So instead of accepting your brain’s initial thought that people are talking about you, you must challenge these thoughts. You can ask yourself: “What are the facts of this situation?” The facts are this: a group of people looked your way, and you do not know any of them. That’s it. You have no other facts. Therefore, you must let go of the thought and move on with your day. 

When you start to consistently challenge distorted thinking patterns, you naturally worry less. You stop assuming you know what others are feeling or are thinking about. This in turn triggers fewer symptoms of anxiety, reduces unnecessary conflict, and helps eliminate intense emotions like worry and stress. As a result, you can start to feel more empowered to start living the life you want, free from the anchors that have been holding you back.  

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