Overcoming Anxious Thoughts

In the past, I’d avoid using the copy machine if anyone was near it, because I was afraid of an awkward social interaction. I’d avoid making doctor’s appointments because I was afraid to. I’d get physically ill prior to most social outings, whether it was work or something I’ve been looking forward to for months. In time, my thoughts began to spiral out of control. I’d question EVERYTHING. Did this person truly love me? Do I deserve this blessing I’ve received? Did my coworker give me a mean look when I passed by their desk? etc.

It wasn’t until I saw a cartoon about social anxiety that I realized I was an anxious person. I hadn’t always been this way. When I was little, I used to dance in the square at Kitchen Kettle Village (an outdoor shopping plaza). When was the last time I’d enjoyed dancing in public with reckless abandon? When had my thoughts turned against me?

The first step towards healing was recognizing that this was happening. Saying, “I see what’s happening here, and it doesn’t have to be this way.” The next step is being brave enough to stand up to those thoughts.

How? I’ve tried techniques ranging from yoga to meditation to better eating habits. While I’m sure all of these things have helped, I’m a writer at heart. That’s why I came up with an anxiety template. This template helps me write my way out of my bad thoughts. For me, it has been a total game changer.

My Anxiety Template:

(Answer the following questions)

  1. What is the source of your anxiety (was there a recent trigger)?
  2. What is the root of your anxiety (not the trigger, but the root…maybe a past event or personality trait)?
  3. Are your thoughts true?
  4. What lesson is this teaching you?
  5. Spin this into something positive…

Here’s an example of what it might look like filled out: 

What is the source of your anxiety: I have a doctor’s appointment coming up.

What is the root of your anxiety?  In the past, I’ve had lots of testing, but never any answers as to why I feel so crummy. I feel stupid going, like they think I’m lying about my symptoms or it is all in my head. It feels like a waste of time.

Are your thoughts true?

No. Doctors are trained to be empathetic and work with us until we feel better. Even if it is in my head, it is their responsibility to help me without bias, and my responsibility to follow up with any tests, or get a second opinion.

What lesson is this teaching you?

There’s nothing to be afraid of…it is their job to hear me out, and they’ve seen almost everything. Also, worrying won’t make my problems go away, it makes me feel worse. 

Spin this into something positive…

I am lucky to have the opportunity to take charge of my health, and I appreciate all of the hard work doctors put into taking care of everyone in our community. My initial anxiety just shows I care about my health, which is a good thing. 

I’m not a licensed professional, so please seek professional help if you need it. This template is just something that has helped me, and I hope you find it beneficial too.

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