How To Stop "Anxiety Thoughts" From Controlling Your Life

Updated April 11, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Aristotle once said, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." Every day we have thoughts that seem to pop into our heads. And it's easy to think on and believe whatever those thoughts happen to be. Some of those thoughts may make us feel happy, some of them not. However, those negative thoughts aren't always true, and when you think too much about the wrong things, like thoughts filled with anxiety, it often makes life harder.

Does it seem like your anxious thoughts are taking over your life?

Common “anxiety thoughts” that people struggle with

Learning how to control your thoughts goes a long way in learning how to overcome anxiety and fear. There are many different anxious thoughts that people have, but there are some that a lot of people have in common, and we're not talking about the fear of dying or speaking in public. Here are ten common anxiety thoughts that people have:

I’m going to be diagnosed with [fill in the disease]

There are plenty of diseases out there for us to worry about. Not only are there things like diabetes and heart disease, but there are also diseases such as cancer and Alzheimers. These impact many people each year. There are many people who turn to the internet when they have symptoms they cannot link to any specific illness. When the internet brings back many different conditions the symptoms may go with, it can cause someone to jump to the worst-case scenario and cause anxiety.

That person has not responded yet, so it must be bad

It's also common for people to assume the worst in a situation. Maybe you text your best friend and don't receive any reply. After a few hours, you start to think they must be mad at you for some reason. You rack your brain trying to think of anything you could have said or done to make them mad. Or it might be that you reached out through email to one of your main clients and haven't heard anything back. Instead of assuming that they haven't noticed the email yet, your mind starts to wander to the idea that they must be looking to switch to a different company and that you're on the brink of losing their business.

There is an unlimited number of ways that similar scenarios can play out in your head and cause you to feel anxious.

My partner must be cheating on me

If you're in a relationship, your anxiety thoughts could turn to your relationship. Something weird might have happened between you and your partner, and you may jump to the conclusion that your significant other is being unfaithful to you. Even if they aren't doing anything to make you suspicious, your mind may start to look for things. While you may blame your spouse, in reality, it's your anxiety that's causing you to think that. No matter what your partner does to prove to you that they are faithful, it may not be enough.

I could get fired at any moment

There are actual reasons people get fired, and if you know that you've done something worthy of getting fired, then this thought is warranted. But there are also plenty of people who worry about getting fired even though there is no evidence to back up the fear. It's incredibly difficult to perform well at work when you're constantly worried that you're going to be fired.

How am I going to pay the bills?

Financial troubles are one of the most common things that people are anxious about. In fact, a study found "that 85% of American adults sometimes feel stressed out about money, and a full 30% feel stressed out about money constantly." You may worry that you don't make enough, fret that the money will run out before the end of the month, wonder how you're going to pay for gas to get work, or agonize about the medical bills you know are coming.

Finances are one of those worries that you can't simply dismiss because there can be some truth to your thoughts. But that doesn't mean that you can't learn how to gain control of your thoughts and not let anxiety get the best of you.

I’ll never find someone to spend my life with

If you desperately want to be in a relationship and can't seem to find Mr. or Mrs. Right, then this may be one of your anxious thoughts. It can often connect with other thoughts that are listed here. It's the kind of thought that doesn't benefit you in any way.

What if [traumatic experience] happens again?

If you've lived through a traumatic experience, it can be hard to move past it. For example, if you were raped as a child, you may constantly worry that it will happen again. This can cause you to be suspicious of other people and make it difficult for you going forward. Many times people diagnosed with PTSD experience this worry.

Everyone is going to figure out that I don't know what I’m doing

Imposter Syndrome is another common worry that people have. For example, perhaps you were recently promoted to a management position at work. Your boss thinks you're a great fit, but you are terrified because you have no clue how to do your new position. You put on the best front you can and hope that no one will figure out that you feel lost. It's common for people experiencing this to think that they're the only one who feels that way. In reality, 70% of people will have experience feeling like this at some point in their life.

Nobody likes me

If you struggle with anxiety, you may end up thinking that no one likes you. This could be because they have given some sign that you're reading too much into or just that you have low self-esteem and have come up with this idea on your own.

I'm not enough

Feeling like you're not enough is something many people experience. You may have anxiety because you feel that you're constantly disappointing the people in your life. And it feels like no matter what you do, it's not enough, and neither are you.

Create your own

The bad part of "anxiety thoughts" is that they just keep coming. And, you don't even have to try to think of them. They just come into your head throughout the day. Just while reading this, you've probably already thought at least one of the things above, along with other thoughts of your own.

People worry about things like getting stuck on the subway, something happening to their pet, forgetting to turn off the stove, or missing a friend's birthday, causing their friend to be unhappy. And those are just on a more personal level. Many people worry excessively about global concerns, which are worthy to be concerned about but not when they run on a loop in your head.

Many of your thoughts may be the same as other people's or they may be unique to you and your situation. Either way, there are things that you can do to stop the anxious thoughts and take control of your thinking.

How to control your thoughts

So, what are you supposed to do with all these anxious thoughts? How are you supposed to eliminate them and improve your life?

Learn to recognize them

The first thing that you need to do is learn how to recognize your anxious thoughts when you have them. This can take some time to do because you are so used to thinking about them without even realizing it. Look through the list above and think about any other common worries that you have. The faster you can start to recognize these types of thoughts, the faster you can learn to overcome them.

Deal with anything that you can change

Sometimes our anxious thoughts stem from realistic fears and situations. If this is the case for you, then start making changes in your life, so you don't need to worry about that situation anymore. For example, if you're worried that you might get diabetes in the future, change your diet, and start making changes to improve your health. If you don't have enough money to pay your bills, start looking for another job or something to sell so you can pay the bill. If you can improve your situation, do it!

Create new thoughts

You can't just get rid of your old anxious thoughts without having something new to think about. So, make a list of the things that you often worry about, and then make a list of new things you're going to think about whenever you catch yourself worrying about that thing.

For example, if you constantly worry about the possibility of getting sick, next time your mind starts to go there, stop, then start thinking about all the ways that you are healthy. Be grateful for your working arms, hands, legs, and feet. Be thankful that you can see, hear, and taste.

Look for positive thoughts; they will build you up and empower you.

Contact a therapist

Does it seem like your anxious thoughts are taking over your life?

Thoughts are powerful, and they aren't always easy to change just because you want to. If you're struggling with anxiety and it's impacting your daily life, don't hesitate to contact a therapist. They can help you work through identifying where your anxious thoughts are coming from and how to replace them. This can be the difference between seeing the difference that you're after or not.

Learn strategies to manage intrusive thoughts

Intrusive, anxious thoughts are never fun to deal with. There are ways, however, to deal with them. Sometimes you can take care of your anxious thoughts on your own. Other times, you may need to seek help.

Online cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) can be an effective treatment for anxiety. Through online CBT, a therapist can help you work through and process negative thoughts and behaviors. Once you've pinpointed those, a therapist can guide you on how to replace those with positive thoughts and behaviors. 

Regain is an online platform with licensed therapists trained to work with those who have anxiety. After you are matched with a therapist, you can have sessions via text, telephone, or video call. Sessions can take place anywhere you have the internet and at a time that works for your schedule.

With support and practice, you can learn how to overcome your anxiety and truly enjoy your life.

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