How to take the power away from anxious thoughts

Today, I leave you with a short but powerful article.

One of the things that innocently kept me in the grips of anxiety was arguing with my thoughts. In fact, this was one of the main things that kept me in the cycle. When I would experience a thought, I would reason with it and try to put it right.

But all this did was fuel the fire of anxiety. For example, if I had the thought that I was weak, I would instantly jump in and correct it. “No I’m not weak!” I would vehemently state with anger and frustration. All this was doing was giving off the impression that the thoughts that were arising were important but this simply wasn’t true.

No thought we have reflects reality because it’s a thought. By nature, thought is fiction and fleeting. Thought is energy. Energy is potential. It’s got potential to give us a negative or positive experience depending on how we react to it. It’s neutral until we energise the thought.

Until we buy into it and take it as truth. That is when suffering is born. It always starts with out thoughts or more accurately, it always starts with our interpretation of our thoughts and feelings.

The feelings we experience from anxiety are a reaction to our fearful interpretation of the thoughts. If we didn’t interpret our thoughts in a fearful manner, the feelings of fear/anxiety wouldn’t arise.

What does this mean for us?

It means that by changing how we react to our thoughts, we can cut off the feedback loop from hell which is a term coined by author Mark Manson. This means instead of arguing with our thoughts, we let them be.

See that it is perfectly fine to have the thoughts that we don’t like without trying to push them away or argue with them. The moment we argue with our thoughts is the moment we send back a fearful message to our subconscious mind.

The more serious we take our thinking, the more we suffer. Just because we have scary and discouraging thoughts, doesn’t mean we have to fear them and take them seriously. I think the problem comes when we just assume that because we think thoughts, they must be personal and true.

But no thought is personal until we make it personal. No thought is true unless we convince ourselves that it is true and even then, it’s still not true. We just really believe it is.

Said another way, suffering doesn’t come automatically through thinking thoughts, it comes through choice.

It may not seem like it, but we are choosing to fear our thoughts and take them seriously. We are choosing to argue with them. It sounds crazy, but we are choosing to throw more petrol/gasoline onto the fire of anxiety.

What’s the solution?

The solution lies in refraining from arguing with our thoughts. Of course, this has to be practiced and practiced until it becomes habit. To start with, it will be normal to retaliate to our thinking because it’s become habit to do so.

The aim is to catch yourself when you get the urge to do so and then choose to refrain. I don’t say this often but I would like you to start RESISTING the urge to argue. This is the only time when I think resistance can be useful.

When you stop arguing with your thoughts, no matter how annoying and hurtful they may be, your brain will start to see that they are not important. When the brain sees that you are not bothered by the thoughts which arise in your consciousness, it will start to render them obsolete. This is great news.

I just wanted to mention something really important. Even when your thinking is hurtful and discouraging, it is just fiction. It does not represent you or the truth of your life in any way. I know it’s hard to not retaliate with these thoughts, almost like wanting to scratch an itch.

However, in time, you will learn that retaliating against your thoughts seems to be one of the biggest traps you’ve fallen into which allows the anxiety to rear it’s ugly head.

It doesn’t matter how personal or evil you perceive a thought to be, if you don’t argue with it and take it as truth, it won’t bother you. If you try to out think or put the thought right by arguing or reasoning with it, you’ll find yourself in an eternal losing battle.

Trust me, you are so much better off just not arguing with them. Otherwise you’ll find yourself going to down a deep rabbit hole which is completely unnecessary to go down.

Let me give you an example so you can see what I mean. Let’s say that an intrusive thought pops up. The thought is “I’m always going to be this way because I am a failure.” Instead of retaliating by internally saying something like “No I won’t always be this way and I am NOT a failure!”, don’t answer back.

By arguing with it, you are insinuating that your thoughts are important and need to be taken seriously. This will send a message to your brain that you are under threat.

The thought is basically a piece of bait tied to a fishing rod waiting for you to pounce on the bait so you get caught on the hook. Now, if you take this thought as truth and you argue with it, then you’ll go for the bait and get caught on the hook.

You’ll then get reeled in by the anxiety. This is why our reactions are so important. One reaction will get you caught on the hook of the fishing rod, the other one won’t.

By seeing why arguing with our thoughts fuels the fire of anxiety, we can start to let go of the retaliation we have towards our thinking. The fisherman (anxiety) will get bored because we are not going after the bait (thought) and will pack up to head home.

I trust this post has been helpful for you. Like always, if you feel like there was something you’d like me to include, just let me know.

Until next time

Lawrence Gregory

Hi I'm Lawrence. I write about what has helped me heal/recover from high anxiety and panic attacks. Everything I share here comes from personal experience and what I've learnt from others. I write with honesty and with readers in mind, so you'll never see me share something I haven't had any experience with myself.

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