How Do I Control My Anxious Thoughts?

So what do we do when our thoughts seem to be holding us back or getting us stuck? We have a couple of options.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works on changing the content of our thoughts.

From a traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) perspective, we might try what is known as cognitive restructuring. CBT challenges sticky thoughts, examining evidence for and against the thought, and then replacing it with a new, more balanced thought in place of the original. In addition, CBT asks you to act in new ways that might allow you to directly experience evidence that challenges your thought.

For example, say you are stuck on the thought, “I always fail at everything I do.” CBT might invite you to consider that although you did fail your last 2 math tests, you aced your last 5 history tests, you are great at taking care of your dog, and you make a mean lasagna. Significantly, this isn’t just about “thinking positive.” And you aren’t replacing the thought with it’s complete opposite (“I will never fail at anything I do” or “I am the best at everything”). Those thoughts would not be helpful or true either. You are instead aiming for a more balanced and helpful way of viewing the situation: “I failed this time, but that doesn’t mean I have or will always fail at everything.

What if I can’t control my thoughts?

But what if you have tried to challenge those thoughts that tell you how incapable you are or how dangerous the world is, and no matter how many times you try to replace the old thought and control your pesky mind, it doesn’t seem to work? What if trying to change your thoughts only makes you feel like even more of a failure because it’s not helping? Some thoughts are too sticky to challenge. You might be able to come up with a more balanced thought, but you still may have trouble believing it to be true. And guess what? The more we try not to think something, the more present and entrenched it tends to become. (For example, DO NOT THINK ABOUT PUPPIES. SERIOUSLY. DON’T THINK ABOUT A BUNCH OF CUTE, FLUFFY, SNUGGLY PUPPIES…I bet you just thought about puppies.)

Maybe you don’t have to fight with your mind.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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