Negative thinking and anxiety go hand in hand, how can it not? Anxiety sufferers hypnotize themselves day in and day out leading to anxious ways of thinking, feeling, and acting. But the real question is should we take the approach of completely stopping these negative thinking patterns? Or is there a better way?
People that look to stop negative thinking and anxiety run into more negative thinking and anxiety
Try to stop anything that’s been common practice in your life and you’ll have difficulty. When we emphasize a term I commonly use in my programs called ‘backtracking,’ we can look deeper into a persons habits. Why they do what they do, and what needs are being met while doing it.
Backtracking emphasizes the need to ‘peel the onion’ of anxiety. Many times, I work with people that allow themselves to relax, focus, and tap into their subconscious knowledge bank. This brings up the realization that anxiety started while being in the womb of the mother and feeling the emotions of lack and fear from the parents (deep stuff). Or, between the ages of 0-7 when trauma after trauma negatively affected the child’s (and now the adult’s) perceptions of reality.
Yes, thinking negatively leads to anxiety. But consider also that replacing something with something else is easier than stopping a well formed pattern. Let’s take smokers for example. Why do they smoke? In my experience many of them smoke to be able to cope with life, to get some ‘fresh air’ in the words of my good friend. They have needs that are met, and they meet those needs through the action of smoking.
Tell a smoker to stop smoking and they’ll give you a host of reasons for why it’s so hard. Tell an anxiety sufferer to stop thinking negatively and you’ll be met with the same response.
That is, until they begin getting their needs met in a positive way, and replace one action with another. Think about it, when it comes to negative thinking and anxiety, why do people do it? The answer is for safety reasons. I call it the ‘standing guard’ model where a person is consumed with worry in order to be prepared for a future catastrophic.
It’s better to be prepared than unprepared in a world that’s full of danger, the subconscious mind says. If a human lived a pleasant childhood with little childhood trauma, was raised in a neutral to pleasant environment with open minded parents, there would be little to no chance of experiencing an anxiety disorder later on. And, the symptoms like dizziness and depersonalization that come with anxiety would not be present.
Everything we do in our lives is to meet a need, many times the needs that weren’t met when we were kids. Negative thinking and anxiety could very well meet the need of significance for someone, to feel like a ‘somebody’ for once. Or, it gives them a sense of identity, ‘I am anxious.’
When things become habitual we begin justifying why it’s so hard to do anything but what we’re doing. Than we label ourselves as ‘mentally ill’ when in fact it’s just habitual thinking.
I’m not a big fan of labels as you might already know through our anxiety support Facebook page. The unfortunate part is that we were given a tremendous amount of labels growing up that make us feel inferior today. We literally hold ourselves back from healing anxiety, we are the obstacle because of these labels.
We’re told that we are lazy, leading to never committing to anything long term. We’re told that we’re weird, leading to distancing ourselves from others. We’re now told we have an ‘anxiety disorder,’ and we’ll just have to live with it forever. Managing something that you can replace makes no sense to me, and never will.
Listen to today’s full episode of The Anxiety Guy Podcast Here:
Leave a comment or question in the comment section below. I’d love to hear what you got out of this podcast episode on negative thinking and anxiety.