5 Ways to Banish Anxious Thinking0
Why do we spend such a crazy amount of time worrying about things? Small things, big things, imagined things, anything? If our anxiety paid dividends, fine, but in most cases it only serves to heighten stress levels, and dilute our confidence, courage and performance quality.
Some worry of course, is realistic and useful, but the majority of our anxious thoughts create wasted nervous energy that’s based on long honed habits of negative thinking- on hypothetical, unrealistic what-ifs, and they can nip away at our ‘joie de vivre’ on a regular basis.
Is it possible to tame such deeply programmed thought patterns? Yes absolutely! Our wish is our brain’s command. Grey matter has the capacity to learn and adapt to change so if we create a fresh way to think, and persist at repeating this new mindset over time, fresh neural pathways will be built and the old will fall away from disuse. (Neuroplasticity) With intention and perseverance we can literally, change our mind.
Here are 5 effective ways to transform your apprehension, whether realistic or not, into personal empowerment, action, and positivity!
1. Know the Difference
Worry is worry, and never feels good, but let’s separate it into 2 buckets to prepare for two different solutions – 1) Anxiety that is realistic. “I’m so stressed. I have a big job interview today”, and 2) Anxiety that is unrealistic or we could say ‘conditioned’. “They won’t pick me for this job- why would I be any better than any of the other applicants?”
2. Identify and Separate
Sift through your world of thought patterns and scan your week for personal or professional moments that are less than comfortable. What is causing you stress and creating worrisome thinking? Try not to filter what you notice by judging it as embarrassing, petty or silly. All our worries are individual variations on common themes, and are totally normal. Make a list and label each one as either ‘realistic’ or ‘conditioned’.
3. Strategically Manage the ‘Realistic’ Ones
It’s natural for us to feel anxious when an outcome is important. “I’m so stressed, I have a big job interview today”. This thought is definitely ‘realistic’, but expresses worry as opposed to confidence, so let’s reformat the thought pattern and extended behaviour to create a more positive, practical experience.
First, Take Action: Leverage your stress and use the energy instead, to prepare for the very thing you’re concerned about, getting the job. Get busy DOING things that will increase your chances of succeeding at the interview. For example, explore your strengths and why you’d be an asset to the role, check the address and transport schedule and research the organisation so you walk into the interview informed.
Second, Shift Your Thinking: Alter your thinking from anxiousness, to positivity and excitement. “I can’t wait to get to the job interview today. I really feel that I’m the right person for the job and I’m looking forward to bringing my experience to the role.” Essentially change your anxiety to enthusiasm. Repeat the new productive thoughts over and over to override the old, strongly programmed, fearful inner voice. Faking it till you make it not only counts, it works!
4. Shift the ‘Conditioned’ Ones
“They won’t pick me for this job, why would I be any better than any of the other applicants?” This mindset expresses unrealistic feelings of concern about being unworthy and undeserving even though, of course, it’s not true.
First: Shift the thought to something positive, constructive, and realistic. “I’m bright, capable and extremely experienced. With my background I’m a great candidate for this role. If by chance I’m not their final choice it’s not the end of the world.”
Then: Repeat your new thinking like a broken record. You’ll need to undo long-term conditioning and the repetition works to build new neural pathways in the brain. It takes time and perseverance but it will work.
5. Stay On Patrol
Consider this to be a long-term project. Our anxious thoughts are embedded in the strangest places, unique to each one of us. Shifting away from old programmed worries and toward a new confident and empowered mindset takes commitment and determination but will definitely open the door to more emotional freedom and fun…you’ll be laughing.