Have you ever fallen down the rabbit hole of overthinking? You know, one intrusive thought leads to another which leads to another and suddenly you’re contemplating a move to Peru because it feels like there is not one person in this world who likes you? Of course, it’s not always that drastic. Sometimes an anxious thought simply leads to cancelling a date, or deciding to finish a task tomorrow, or just feeling like you’re in a bad mood for a few hours. The correlation to notice here is that thoughts lead to feelings which will then typically result in action, or inaction. And thoughts, feelings, and actions tend to be related. So, if the thought is negative, the feeling will probably be negative, and the resulting actions will also likely be negative as well.
So where do the negative thoughts come from? Why do some people have the tendency to overthink or experience anxious thoughts while others do not? It boils down to one’s view of the world. How we understand the world based on the experiences that we have had throughout our lives. Our brains are constantly trying to make sense of the world around us. We understand the world by seeking similarities in our experiences so that we might be able to anticipate what comes next. We work from this point of view. If I hold the viewpoint, or belief, that I am a bad person, I will interact with others with the expectation that they will treat me as such. Likewise, if I believe that I am a great person, I will believe that others will notice this and treat me accordingly. Whether or not these characteristics are actually indicative of who I am is not often taken into consideration, it is simply what I believe.
So, how do I break free of beliefs about myself and the world which might be holding me back? By challenging those thoughts and beliefs. As someone who has dealt with their share of anxious thoughts, I can say that this is not a simple feat. It takes practice and, at times, what feels like a great deal of thought. I must challenge myself to find the logic in the anxious thoughts that I experience. Where is the evidence that supports this thought which is making me feel anxious? What about the evidence that makes it untrue? It comes down to building a new comfortable sequence of events for ourselves. Working to challenge anxious thoughts becomes natural the more we practice, as any new skill does. Remember that your mind is a muscle, and muscles retain memory. The more you practice, the more natural it will become to make these motions.