If you struggle with anxiety, then your brain is likely chock full of troubling anxious thoughts. You know the kind I'm talking about — all those "what ifs" and "oh my gods" that can so easily spiral out of control and make you feel even more anxious.
Once a thought gets stuck in your head, it can become overwhelming, upsetting, and confusing. (Or all of the above.) It can also make you feel like the only person in the world whose brain is sabotaging them. But trust me when I say that every anxious person has had this happen at one point or another.
In fact, troubling thoughts are pretty much a textbook byproduct of anxiety. As psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez says, "When we are in a heightened state of anxiety, we are more susceptible to distorted and negative intrusive thoughts." And, it can get even worse when you don't have coping mechanisms.
Without them these thoughts can become incredibly stressful to deal with, and might make your anxiety even worse. If that seems to be the case, it can be helpful to talk with a therapist. They can suggest some coping skills, as well as ways to shut up your pesky brain. Read one for some of the most common thoughts, and remember that you are most definitely not alone in having them.
1. "I definitely have that rare disease"
Anxiety has a way of putting your brain on red alert for every disease known to mankind. It takes every little twinge, or tiny headache, and "attributes the worst case scenario to it," Martinez says. Before long, it's 3 a.m. and you're knee-deep in Google, convinced you only have moments to live. (Not cool, brain. Not cool.)
2. "The subway is stuck and now I must live down here forever"
If your subway train has ever come to a grinding halt, then you know the pure adrenaline rush (and intense fear) that can result. This has a lot to do with lack of control, which us anxious folk simply can't handle. But it also has a lot do with the catastrophizing mentioned above.
3. "Did I leave the door unlocked?"
Obsessive compulsive disorder is a specific type of anxiety disorder that is also (almost too perfectly) known as the "checking disease." It can make you feel compelled to double check things like doors, switches, and appliances, according to HealthGuides.org. It's quite the difficult disorder to deal with, and much more than a simple "everyday" worry. But it does cause troubling thoughts, and might even send you home from work to triple check your locks.
4. "My friend hasn't texted so she's probably mad"
Wondering if your loved ones are upset with you is a super common anxious thought, according to deputy healthy living editor Lindsay Holmes on HuffingtonPost.com. This might come in the form of fearing the worst when your friend cancels plans, or assuming everyone's upset with you when they don't text back right away. (Hint: they usually aren't.)
5. "My SO hasn't called so I'm probably dumped"
In the same vein is assuming your relationship is totally donezo just because your partner didn't text back immediately. Sometimes all it takes is a slightly delayed text, Martinez tells me, to make anxious people feel as good as dumped
6. "I suck and am going to be fired at any moment"
Anxious people have a way of forgetting the praise they receive while remembering in vivid detail every critique they've ever gotten. And hey, no better place for this to crop up than at work. If you have anxiety, then you aren't alone in constantly feeling like you might be fired at any moment.
7. "I'm going to forget everything"
Forgetting to do something important, according to Holmes, is another thing anxious people worry about all the time. You might worry that you'll totally drop the ball at work, miss a meeting, forget to feed your cat — the list goes on and on. And it all has to do with being too anxious to trust yourself.
8. "Something horrible is going to happen to my dog"
Taking care of a pet is hard enough as it is. Add in anxiety, and you've really got yourself a combination. It can lead to all sorts of disturbing thoughts and cause you to worry even more — especially since thoughts of injury and death aren't uncommon in people with anxiety, according to the health site CalmClinic.com.
9. "Everyone is going to realize I'm stupid"
When it comes time to go out and socialize, anxious types constantly worry that they'll say something stupid or do something dumb. Is this you? Then you might even think this while talking, Martinez tells me, or worry intensely that you have nothing of value to add. (All not true, btw.)
10. "Nobody likes me"
For anxious people, often all it takes is a snubbed Facebook post or someone's weird side eye and suddenly "nobody likes you," Martinez tells me. If this describes your life, it can really help to ask yourself if there is any truth to your worries — of if it's just anxiety-fueled paranoia.
11. "What if I'm next?"
The world is a scary place, so it makes total sense that we'd all live with a vague worry that something bad could happen. It's totally common, Martinez tells me, and completely normal to fret about occasionally.
Just keep in mind that — although totally common — it is possible to shut down anxious thoughts with some coping mechanisms. Because, I think we can all agree, that worrying 24/7 is no fun at all.
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