It all starts from a trickle, like a droplet from a faucet. It’s an idea that begins at the size of a grain of sand. And then it grows. It’s a thought based condition. The droplet becomes an open flood-gate. It’s an idea that grows and takes shape.
Thoughts take form in the mind and then suddenly, we create a scenario in the mind, which is complete with a fully imaginative video – almost like a movie, like a psychological tragedy which is complete with all the characters in our life and leads a plot that is unfortunate or tragic.
We create a concept in our mind that hits all the triggers and hits every alarm in our anxiety system. Next, we’ve thought ourselves into “Red-Alert” status.
Anxiety . . .
It’s the apprehension; it’s the anticipation of tragedy and the thoughts that prepare for an impending doom. It’s the movie that plays out in our head and the scenarios we imagine to defend ourselves from this.
As if to say: if this happens, then I’ll do that. Or, if that happens, then I will do this. Either way, all thoughts are survival based. All of our thinking is based on a worry, which may or may not be accurate or even fact. Our thoughts take shape and as for the mind, in its own defense, our mind is only seeking safety.
Unfortunately, we have thought ourselves into a stressor-based worry. We have run the scenarios and the fire drills and we have lived and relived the fantasy so deeply that our mind is at the crux of survival mode.
Our energy is now altered by the chemistry of our thinking. Now our body takes on the physical condition of our worries and fears.
Think . . .
This is what happens.
Consider what happens when we relive old arguments that ended undesirably or consider the mindset that follows when we rethink an old situation whose outcome remains like an unresolved tension.
What happens to our energy or the way we feel?
Consider a moment of shame or a painful memory where there is still a feeling and a connection to this memory; yet, the memory is gone. However, each time we rethink this moment, our tension remains unresolved because emotionally, we’re still looking for an answer as to why this happened.
We are always looking for accountability. We want to understand. We want to account for the simple misleadings in our mind because above all, we don’t want the problem to be us.
It is true.
It is indeed possible to think yourself sick. It is possible to think yourself into anxiety mode. It is possible to build up something in your mind, to think about this to the point where thoughts multiply and amplify and next, nothing in the world screams as loud as the whispers of our thinking.
You “think” yourself here and next, you want the motion to stop. You want the energy to cease. You want to calm down. You want the worry to stop and the fear to go away but, unfortunately, we have thought ourselves into a multi-dimensional box that is connected with memories and feelings.
This is connected to judgments and predictions that are based on past experiences. Our anxiety is an alarm system, like an inherent smoke alarm or burglar alarm with sensors that are only looking to keep us safe.
This is more than physical safety. This is emotional safety and social safety. This is to protect us from humiliation or unfair exposure and pain. And keep in mind, the receptors in our mind are not aware that this is only a thought. The receptors are sensors that sense the changes. They are not judging real or fantasy.
The mind works itself up. This is the ego with all its cracks, shouting out for protection. This is like the psyche of a child who is afraid of being laughed at, picked on, exposed or rejected.
And that’s the big one . . .
Rejection based thinking is the weed-like substance that roots deeply into our thinking. Now, suddenly, one thought becomes two thoughts. And two thoughts become four.
Next, there’s a committee meeting in our mind where all seats are taken in this mental conference room and quickly our DEFCON levels change from safe to all-out danger.
Anxiety is like a bad ride at an unsafe amusement park. The rush and the adrenaline no longer serve us. Our rational mind is altered due to the emotional leads of our thought-based consumption.
Unlike anxiety attacks which come with apparent triggers and concepts, panic attacks are not stressor based and typically last a few minutes.
Anxiety attacks are stressor based. This is a connection to thoughts and fears and the attachments to memories and emotions. However, although we know that thoughts are not always real and that feelings are not always fact, our thought consumption has built up and created an unsafe condition or scenario.
Of course, the common suggestion is also the simple suggestion, which is, “Just don’t think like that.” And that’s a great idea.
Just don’t think about it. Right?
I go back to that saying that always makes me laugh and nod my head. “Never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down simply by being told to calm down.”
We think ourselves into a situation of danger that has triggered every alarm and next, we try to calm ourselves down, which is translated by the alarm system as “Something must be wrong if we’re trying so hard to calm down.” To defend ourselves, our body releases the chemistry that matches our unsafe ideas. And now you can’t relax.
You can’t think clearly. It can become impossible to think rationally and, moreover, our thoughts drift to a defense mechanism and often, we respond to the chemistry of our thoughts and opinions.
Put this down as a connection to our thoughts. This is an investment in ideas and scenarios, based on judgments and yet – there is a simple math to this, which is your feelings and emotions are attached to our thinking – and in the simplest of forms, if you can’t think good then how can you feel good?
There are sayings which ring true such as, “You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind.”
Think good, feel good. Think badly, feel badly. And what happens next?
We become the sum of our assumptions, which is why it is helpful to challenge our assumptions.
We have to move. We have to learn to treat the heart attack before it happens, not after it’s too late.
When the alarms go off, we have to create a switch; otherwise, the more we think, the deeper we sink into the thought systems and the deeper we sink, the harder it is to climb out of emotional quicksand.
If it is true that we can think ourselves into both mental and physical discomfort then it is equally true that we can think ourselves into failure; then it has to be equally true that we can think ourselves into feeling better and achieving success.
There are sayings that come up like:
Put the bat down.
Stop beating yourself up.
Don’t torture yourself.
Don’t play the movie out in your head.
Oh, and then there’s this one: BREATHE . . .
At times, telling a person to think differently is no different from telling someone who is vomiting to stop throwing up.
Just don’t throw up anymore.
You’ll feel better.
I agree with the suggestion to breathe because sometimes, there’s nothing else you can think to do.
I say breathe because this allows your blood to oxygenate and thus, this lowers the levels of uric acid in our blood which is elevated. This stops the fear receptors from over-reacting and producing too much calcium and by oxygenating the blood, this can relieve the physical symptoms of an anxiety attack.
Changing our thinking to change our behavior is something that takes practice. Mindfulness is a practice. This is a mediation in which you are aware of what you’re feeling and thinking; however, you are not attaching bias or judgment. You are not hinged upon or connected to the imaginary threats and therefore, we can become fully present instead of lost to the fantasies of “what if” scenarios that only exist in our head.
Replace thought with action.
Change your focus. Change your view.
Change your feelings. Change your behavior.
This takes practice.
There’s data which says one in five people experience a mental health challenge in their life. I say this is wrong. I say this happens to everyone. The minute we normalize this or the second we humanize our thoughts and misconceptions, and at the time when we address the misperceptions we have about anxiety and depressive disorders; this will be the second, the minute, and the time when people will talk about their challenges and find recovery from their struggles.
Recovery over relapse.
Improvement over deterioration.