How To Stop "Anxiety Thoughts" From Controlling Your Life
Updated November 23, 2019
Reviewer Lauren Guilbeault
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 just pop into our heads. And, it's easy just to think on and believe whatever those thoughts happen to be. However, our thoughts aren't always true, and when you think about the wrong things, like anxiety thoughts, it often makes life harder.
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:
1. 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 things like cancer and Alzheimers. These are on a larger scale and impact many people each year. Then, there are the more rare diseases like Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease. And, while you know that your chance of getting a rare disease is very small, every time you start having symptoms, you jump to the worst-case scenario.
2. 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 that 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 are an unlimited number of ways that similar scenarios can play out in your head.
3. My Partner Must Be Cheating On Me.
If you're in a relationship, your anxiety thoughts could turn to your relationship. You may jump to the conclusion of thinking that your significant other is being unfaithful to you. Even if they aren't doing anything to make you suspicious, your mind will start to look for things. While you blame your spouse, in reality, it's your anxiety that's causing you to think that. No matter what your partner does to try to prove to you that they are faithful, it won't be enough.
4. I Could Get Fired At Any Moment.
There are actual reasons why 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 that worry about getting fired even though there is no evidence that would 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.
5. 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 percent of American adults sometimes feel stressed out about money, and a full 30 percent feel stressed out about money constantly." You may worry that you don't make enough, the money will run out before the end of the month, how you're going to pay for gas to get work, or about the medical bills that 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 not to let anxiety get the best of you.
6. 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 one of those thoughts that doesn't benefit you in any way.
7. What If [traumatic experience] Happens Again?
If you've lived through a traumatic experience, it can be hard to move past. For example, if you were raped as a child, you may constantly worry that it's going to 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.
8. 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, you were recently promoted to a management position at work. Your boss thinks that 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 that you can in hopes that no one will figure out that you feel lost. It's common for people that are experiencing this to think that they're the only one that feels that way. In reality, 70% of people will have experience with feeling like this at some point in life.
9. 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 indication that you're reading into too much or just that you have low self-esteem and have come up with this idea on your own.
10. 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 don't stop. 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 and 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, and missing a friend's birthday, causing them to hate them. And, those are just on a more personal level. When you add in all the anxious thoughts that you can have on a larger scale from national security to religion and politics, it's nothing short of overwhelming.
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?
1. 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 just thinking 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 them, the faster you can learn to overcome them.
2. 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 in the future, you might get diabetes, 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!
3. 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, will build you up, and empower you.
4. Contact A Therapist
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 the process of 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.
You can work with an online therapist to make appointments easy and convenient. And, you can have access to help when you need it without having to wait weeks until you can get in for an appointment. You can learn how to overcome your anxiety and truly enjoy your life.