Worrying, Racing, Disturbing Thoughts
Worrying, racing thoughts is the one symptom with anxiety that can bother people the most; they do not understand how they can have such thoughts that seem so scary and come with such impact. I have heard people say they fear the beginning of O.C.D or that they have awful thoughts about those closest to them, feel that they are ‘going mad’ and that they cannot control these disturbing thoughts, they seem to come without them even thinking them. Well these do have an explanation and these worrying, disturbing thoughts really are just an off-shoot of anxiety.
The reason you seem to have your attention on yourself all day and it feels like there are many thoughts running through your mind is twofold.
1. It is all the confusion about how you feel. Your mind spends all day looking for answers and trying to find a way out of this hell. Some people may even stay up all night, reflecting on the whole day and trying to figure everything out.
Eventually, thinking just becomes automatic, it becomes a habit. All day, every day, these thoughts seem to enter your head before you even think them. Look at it this way, when people meditate, they stop thinking for hours on end, until it becomes a habit and they can go all day without a worrying thought, which is why they feel so refreshed. Not you, your thoughts just carry on and on and when your mind is tired, like it is now, it grabs hold of every thought pulling them in and making them stick.
2. Why are some thoughts so bad? When you are in an anxious state, emotions seem to be tenfold, everything magnifies and a little problem becomes massive. Something that you could dismiss when you were healthy, can stick around all day.
Anxiety is really just adrenalin that needs an outlet and this includes manifesting itself into scary, irrational, strange thoughts, they are not important and should just be seen for what they are, anxiety just playing its tricks. Anxious thoughts are totally normal when suffering with anxiety. People ask me. 'Why do I have all these anxious, scary thoughts?, 'Because you have anxiety' is always my answer. It's a simple response to a simple question.
These are just some of the scary thoughts on anxiety that I have come across. I call them the ‘what ifs’!
What if no one can cure me?
What if it’s not anxiety, but a different mental problem?
What if my old self is lost forever
What if there is something else wrong with me, brain tumour etc?
What if I lose control?
What if I can't breathe?
What if I have to live like this for the rest of my life?
What if this feeling never goes away?
What if it’s just me that feels like this?
What if I'll never be able to enjoy the things I used to?
What if I have an attack and pass out?
What if I cannot be the person I used to be?
You may have said one or two of the above to yourself or recognise a fear you have. Well, I did too; it was always ‘yes, but what if?’ Well, all of these ‘what ifs?’ usually amount to nothing. They prove to be just an overactive mind playing its tricks on you. Thoughts seem to come uninvited and always seem to hold such force when we are anxious. Also, a lack of understanding of anxiety can bring these fears. Like me, you may have gone for a long time without anyone explaining to you why you feel like you do and you may not even have been told that it is anxiety. Can you see why these fears can build up in people? A lack of understanding of their condition, coupled with the habit of always thinking the worst compounds their fears. Add this to a tired mind that has lost a lot of its resilience, and you have a whole host of ‘what ifs?’.
Some people worry to the extent that they believe everything they feel is life threatening. A headache becomes a brain tumour, a stomach ache can become cancer and so on, and no matter how many times their doctor tells them there is nothing wrong with them, they are never quite convinced.
If this is you, then realise these thoughts are just figments of your imagination, mainly created by your anxious state. Everything becomes magnified when we are anxious. Let these thoughts go, don’t react to them and see them as just that, thoughts that carry no weight whatsoever, no matter how loud they shout.
When we try too hard to do ANYTHING, it seems to slip further from grasp. This includes to ridding oneself of unwanted thoughts. The more you "try" to push them away, the longer they linger and the stronger their impact. When we welcome and give room to unwanted thoughts, they lose their significance and quickly diminish. When you impose a false sense of importance upon a thought, it will often appear more serious than it deserves.
Time again is a great healer concerning this condition. I allowed them to flow in and flow out and I didn’t react. When I did this, I noticed the scary thoughts seem to lose their scary edge. Learn to see all thoughts as neutral. I used to try and keep hold of the good and get rid of the bad, it was exhausting and like trying to play the game Whack-a-Mole, as soon as one went another would appear, I realised that the only way forward was to be comfortable with all thoughts, only I could bring alive a thought and make it appear real, if I paid it no attention then it had no hold on me.
If a drunken man started shouting at you in the street that your were a worthless piece of crap you would just ignore him and walk on, his words would not affect you, well this is how I looked at it, the thought was just the drunken man shouting, he did not mean it and it was not reality, The thoughts would come and that was fine, but I certainly would no longer show it any respect. This was liberating as now I could think anything, the strange things was though that when it was O.K. to think anything that voice seemed to lose it's power, it came weaker and less often.
I often get asked ‘How I do I stop thinking a certain way’, my answer is DON’T try, if it’s not important whether your thoughts are scary or not, why try to stop them, give them their space, this is the way to lose them. Fighting thoughts and trying to rid yourself of them is the wrong approach and a battle you will lose for sure, again you are fighting something that is totally normal in the circumstances. Don't think you are going crazy or try and fight to change the way you think.