We can literally talk ourselves into a state of stress and anxiety. In fact, when we pay close attention, we notice that most of the times we simply freak ourselves out. As Mark Twain once said, “I had a lot of tragedies in my life—most of them never happened.”
We’re not often consciously aware of the sequence of negative thoughts that lead to anxiety. The resulting feeling itself is what makes us pay attention. But how did we get there? The exercise below is a very powerful way of paying attention to the thoughts that often lead to a downward spiral into the dark pit of fear and anxiety. The descent can start with a “what if”, or an “I should have”, both mere assumptions, either about something that has not yet happened or something that we can’t change because it has already happened. Yet this does not stop us from entertaining these thoughts. These thoughts are often judgmental or critical in nature. We doubt ourselves and wonder what other people may think about us. And very quickly, thoughts pop up that seems to confirm the previous ones, which confirms or exacerbates the first one, adding to the raising feeling of gloom and uncertainty. The problem is that these thoughts seem to only partially enter our conscious awareness. They can be so quick and fleeting that we don’t really “catch” them. The initial idea is often immediately trailed by another thought, which confirms or exacerbates the first one – and so on.
I routinely ask my clients to watch their negative self-talk and actually write this talk down. Most of them are completely surprised when they find out how often negative thoughts float through their minds. But they are even more shocked by what they say to and about themselves. “How can I be so mean to myself?” is a very common reaction. Let’s face it, how often do we tell ourselves “I am stupid, fat, ugly, a loser,” etc., things that we would never tell anybody else directly to their face.
So why do we treat other people with more respect and consideration than we treat ourselves? Does it make sense that we don’t want to hurt others’ feelings and at the same time are our own worst critic? One of the most important components to breaking through fear and anxiety is to learn how to trust—especially to trust ourselves. Would you trust somebody who calls you “a loser” or tells you that “you don’t have what it takes?”
The following exercise is one of the most effective ways of handle negative, self-defeating mind-racing. However, there are a few considerations that are important to understand to use this tool most effectively.
One of the reasons this exercise works is because it interrupts the spiral of negative thinking before it gets us into the negative emotion. It is training our mind to not automatically follow this self-defeating train of thoughts, but to search for new options and ways to view the given situation. By considering the more positive angles, we are also planting seeds in our mind, which support the growth of greater confidence and self-esteem.
Another major factor is that we are learning to directly address the deeper source of the negative self-talk. Negative self-talk is not a conscious, intellectual choice. It stems from the subconscious mind. Imagine that a part of your subconscious mind is merely repeating old “tapes” of negative messages you heard many years ago. Maybe when you were a child, being worried and hyper-vigilant may have served you by helping you to feel more safe. Maybe you had to make sure that you were not getting in trouble with your parents or it felt much safer for you to be invisible. The reason why a “younger” part of your mind is continuously playing these old themes and holding on to these patterns is because that part has never been properly encouraged and reassured. By either ignoring these now rather non-supportive messages or buying into them through anxiety and worry, this subconscious part will just continue what it has been doing for a long time. So how would you respond if a little child would tell you that he or she feels bad and frightened? Would you ignore her or tell him,“yes, you a’re right, you suck, and the world is an unfriendly and dangerous place?” Of course not, because not only would you frighten the child more, but also what will happen is that this child will start screaming louder and louder. What you would do is to comfort and reassure this child, not merely with intellectual reasoning, but with gentle kindness from your heart. And as a result, the child would most likely feel safe and at peace again. This is the context in which you need to place the following negative-positive / self-talk exercise.
To get specific:
Get a little notebook that you will carry with you at all times. In this book, you will write down all negative self-talk immediately when it comes up. Then ask yourself: “Is this true?” “Does believing this serve me or anybody else?” “Does believing this help me in reaching my goals?” These questions help you to interrupt the negative thought spiral.
Then promptly, next to the negative thought, write at least three positive ones, which are counter-balancing the negative thoughts. As you write down the words, make sure that you are fully aware of the positive qualities. Feel good about what you are writing. In the past, you may have tried to change negative thinking through positive counter-balancing. The reason why most people who unsuccessfully tried to counter-balance negative-self talk failed is that they did not add positive emotions to the positive statements. The subconscious mind does not care so much about words; It cares much more about feelings. So rather than using this exercise as mental gymnastics, make sure that you can feel and stand behind the positive statements you make. This is why the image of talking to a younger, subconscious self is so helpful, since it is easier to talk kindly and comforting to a child than to an adult self. Be very diligent and committed to this exercise, and don’t let one negative thought slip by without counter-balancing it. By using this method, most people are able to reduce negative self-talk by more than 80 percent in just a couple of weeks.
The fears over the economy, the election or state of planet earth could be summarized as “the fears of losing something of value,” such as security, trust and our environment. However, underneath the fear of losing something that’s important to us often lingers a greater fear: ”the fear of losing control and being powerless.” This deep-seated fear can lead to a vicious cycle, causing us to believe that hyper-vigilance, micromanaging, and even obsessive thinking are the only way to maintain some sense of power and control when, in actuality, it is fear and anxiety that control our lives.
Although our external world may appear often out of our control, we have all the power of choice inside of us. We may feel forced to within life in circumstances that are determined by others; however, we can still choose our thoughts, our perspectives, and even our emotions. The Fear and Anxiety Solution makes this choice easier by providing a step-by-step process to transform these often overwhelming emotions into catalysts of growth and empowerment.
As we feel more calm, centered and confident, we are able to recognize both: that we can make a difference in our immediate environment, by for example budgeting, recycling, educating others or going to vote. And that we have the inner resources to handle anything that comes our way.
After all the opposite of feeling out of control isn’t being in control. The opposite is to trust and be at peace.
Anxiety is often a symptom of a deeper-seated problem. Similar to physical pain, which alerts us that a wound or an infection needs to be treated, anxiety can point towards a root cause that requires our attention. One of the major root causes of anxiety are limiting core beliefs, such as “I am not good enough” or “I am not safe” that are programed into our subconscious mind during our childhood. Limiting beliefs filter and distort our perception about ourselves and the world, which explains why some people, no matter how much success and approval they have gained, still feel unworthy or like frauds – anxious to be exposed and found out. And others are unable to relax and enjoy life, because they constantly expect that ‘the other shoe will drop.’
The best way to identify anxiety-triggering limiting beliefs is listen to your inner self-talk. After all, usually anxiety isn’t triggered by real outside threats, but much more by what we are telling ourselves. For one week observe your internal dialogue and write down the negative thoughts, which may cause you to feel anxious or insecure. Then notice the themes these thoughts have in common and what limiting beliefs may be causing them. Most limiting beliefs are based on experiences of the past and don’t reflect the present. Therefore, collect evidence that shows you that these limiting beliefs are no longer true and valid. For example make a list of your accomplishments and capabilities or write down all the reasons why you know that you and your loved ones are safe.
This way you shift the focus of your mind away from anxiety and limitations and towards focusing on greater peace and appreciation.
Less than 3 weeks left until the launch date of my book The Fear and Anxiety Solution. If you are in the Seattle area, join me on November 2 at 7:00 PM for a book release presentation at East-West Bookshop.
To celebrate the book launch 50 plus amazing colleagues, teachers and healers have put together a special gift package for you. If you purchase the book on November 7th through our brand-new website www.thefearandanxietysolution.com, you will receive bonus gifts with a value of over $5000.
Now you may wonder: “What is The Fear and Anxiety Solution about?” Let me tell you a little bit about it. If you are dealing with fear and anxiety, you probably know how overwhelmed and powerless these emotions can make you feel. You see yourself as weak and flawed and the longer you struggle the more difficult it appears to overcome these challenges.
This book is based on my breakthrough and empowerment program, which has helped countless people to move beyond fear and anxiety and tap into their true potential to heal, change, and succeed.
The Fear and Anxiety Solution is a step-by-step guide that explains how to transform fear and anxiety into powerful allies, messengers, and healing catalysts that lead to greater confidence, self-worth, and success. Imagine how your life would change if you were no longer afraid of fear and anxiety. Instead, you could transform fear into healing catalysts that lead to greater confidence, self-worth, and success.
In the book I explain how to:
- Discover and address the subconscious root causes of your fear and anxiety
- Release stored emotions and traumas from your cellular memory
- Eliminate inner conflicts, mind-racing and self-sabotaging behavior
- Replace limiting core beliefs
- Establish foundation of peace, calmness, and resilience
- And much more
Listen to my upcoming interview and learn how you can break through fear and anxiety, access your untapped power—and “turn up your inner light so that you can shine more of who you truly are out into the world.”
Are you ready for a change? Do you want to take a quantum leap or accelerate your personal or professional transformation? If so, you will be interested in this rare opportunity break-through expert Dr. Friedemann Schaub and soul success coach Cari Murphy want to present to you:
The Create Change Now Global Awakening Telesummit. This once in a lifetime online event begins June 20th – and it is absolutely FREE.
Connect with 24 of the world’s leading experts in the fields of health, energy, consciousness, business, spirituality and healing! Learn how to re-design your life around your passions and purpose and create a more profitable, fulfilling lifestyle from the inside-out! Establish, once and for all, inner worth and outer wealth. And you can participate from anywhere in the world, from the comfort of your home or office, online via your computer or telephone!
To register for the Create Change Now Global Awakening Telesummit click here: Create Change Now Telesummit
Listen to this upcoming interview with Dr. Schaub and Cari Murphy to find out how this unique telesummit will inspire, guide and empower you to make 2011 the year you step into your grand self and create the fulfilling life of your dreams!
Dr. Schaub and Cari Murphy life on Voice America on May 26 at 8:00 AM PST.
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- THE EMPOWERED SELF SERIES PART 13: IS IT TIME TO UPGRADE YOUR BELIEFS?
- THE EMPOWERED SELF SERIES: PART 12 “HOW TO TRUST YOUR NATIONAL RHYTHM”