Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Is this situation really as important as my anxiety says it is?

We all have to capacity to be scandalized by our own inner thoughts. 

Humans, after all, are suckers for their feelings. Our emotions are so completely convincing to us. And until we gain a greater understanding of our own mental operating system, we will be easily swayed by our own opinions. 

The challenge, then, is learning how to stand up to the internal thugs who try to derail our progress. Take anxiety. It’s an experience that contracts us into scarcity and tension. It makes us ruminate and overthink and catastrophize and focus on the immediate threat without considering the broader context. Which, in turn, leads to more anxiety. 

What a delightful mental loop to be trapped in. 

One tool I learned from hypnotherapy was called cognitive distancing. My shrink taught me to observe thoughts as moving data passing through my mind, rather than the objective truth about the situation. We’d visualize those thoughts as beautiful elements of nature, like passing clouds in the sky or a leaf gently falling from a tree and drifting downstream. 

And it worked. Objectifying my thoughts and feelings helped me realize that the situation wasn’t as important as my anxiety said it was. 

That’s the way out of anxiety. Not running from it, but walking around it. Seeing the whole picture for what it really is, rather than focusing too narrowly on the threatening aspects of the situation. 

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com


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