Anxiety-provoking thoughts are triggered by the presence of uncertainty. When we have these types of thoughts, they typically cause some level of stress when we experience them. Anxiety-provoking thoughts can be thought of as distressing What If type thinking where we fixate on the potential negative aspects of a situation. Experiencing anxiety-provoking thoughts is not a bad thing. However, how we respond to these thoughts can turn them into a bad experience.
The mental mistake we make
The mental mistake we make with anxiety-provoking thoughts is that we believe we should have some level of control over them. There is no way to stop anxious thoughts or make them go away, and, on some level, we are all aware of this. However, many of us have a strong desire to not experience these types of thoughts. Trying to make something stop that we are not able to control creates unnecessary stress.
The mistake we make with our behaviors
Most people try to do things that distract them from their anxiety-provoking thoughts. Distraction from anxious thoughts may work momentarily. Because we cannot control these thoughts, they eventually come back. When our anxious thoughts come back, we have less tolerance for them because we become dependent on distraction.
Let’s Deal with Anxiety: Dealing with anxious thoughts in 4 steps.
Come to an understanding with yourself that you are not able to control these thoughts.
With sincerity, actively tell yourself that you accept that you are experiencing anxiety-provoking thoughts, do not resist the experience.
Do not distract yourself from these thoughts; when you feel like distracting, focus on tip #2.
Being flexible and accepting of your anxiety-provoking thoughts helps you to build a tolerance for future anxiety-provoking thoughts.