We have as many as 50,000 thoughts a day, 80% of those are negative and 98% are repetitive
[National Science Foundation].
Judging by the statistic above, it’s no wonder there are so many of us with anxiety!
I suffered with anxiety for many years. Now I help people to overcome anxiety and issues of low self-worth so that feeling calm and confident, and having powerful self-belief becomes who you are, not what you do.
Anxiety is necessary for our survival. Wired into our primitive brains, it can be a healthy and helpful response that mobilises us into action to escape danger, but…
If you’re safe at home with a cup of tea and you’re feeling anxious about something that has happened or might happen, then you are suffering needlessly. Like having a car alarm that goes off when no one is near – you don’t want to get rid of the car alarm because you want to keep your car safe, but ideally you need to reset the mechanism so it only goes off when there is an actual threat or danger.
Anxiety is usually embedded in our subconscious, which is the part of the mind that stores everything we’ve ever experienced – tastes, smells, images etc. and it also controls unconscious actions in our body such as our digestion, blood pressure and breathing. The subconscious is being wired for the first time in utero and during our childhood until around the age of 7 years old. This means that there are patterns in the brain created during this time that can set up behaviours for years to come.
Studies have shown that in ordinary waking consciousness, we are in fact, conscious only about 5% of the time…so, 95% of our decisions and actions are actually regulated by unconscious activity. Another way of expressing this is that programming accounts for the vast majority of our actual behaviour – Dr Bruce Lipton PhD, The Biology of Belief. Some of the ‘default’ programmes we run are positive and empowering but the majority are disempowering and self-sabotaging.
If most of our behaviours come from our childhood subconscious programming, which we received before the age of 7, it’s no surprise that many of us have no idea where chronic anxiety comes from!
Humans, unlike most other animals, are highly dependent on their caregivers for survival. Our two basic emotional needs are to get connection and avoid rejection. When we experience a lack of connection or we feel rejected, this can trigger our primal fears and can set up a pattern of ‘over anxious’ responses in later life and these patterns are physically wired into the brain.
In my experience, the root cause of anxiety can usually be traced back to situations in our childhood where we formed beliefs that we were not good enough, we felt different or formed a belief that something was not available to us such as love, money, safety or a voice to express ourselves. All of these beliefs can be linked to feeling a lack of connection or feeling rejection, and can lead to unhelpful anxiety in its many guises; fear of failure, overwhelm, self-criticism, people-pleasing, panic and perfectionism amongst others.
Fortunately, there are many ways to help if you are suffering with anxiety. Here are some of my top tips to help reduce anxiety:
Firstly, challenge your thoughts. As soon as you notice the anxiety or worry becoming present, it is extremely important to tell yourself this truth; THOUGHTS ARE NOT REAL.
If you imagine a pink elephant sitting next to you, it can become very vivid in your imagination, but it will never be real. The mind doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is vividly imagined and as the mind responds to the pictures in your head and the words you tell it, we need to make sure those words and pictures are changed to beneficial ones.
It may seem real, but it is not real, and you must give yourself this truthful and honest suggestion because your mind is very suggestible. Do the following steps:
- CHALLENGE the thought. Is it real? Is it happening right now? What is really going on in your surroundings right now – look at it, talk to yourself about what IS right in this moment, go from WHAT IF…to WHAT IS. Look at your physical surroundings, people you are actually with, what colour clothes are you wearing, what can you see? The antidote to anxiety/worry/panic is ACCURATE thinking. So what is accurate and truthful right now?
- The fastest way out of panic or fear – after telling yourself the truth about your thoughts – is to CHANGE YOUR PHYSICAL STATE. Move around, do star jumps, drink a glass of cold water, take a walk, have a shower.
- Anchor yourself in your BREATH. Breathe in for the count of 4, hold for the count of 7 and breathe out for the count of 8. Repeat until you feel calmer.
- SLOW DOWN worrying thoughts in your head to three times slower than your normal voice. Then SPEED UP to three times faster. Then, think of an actor, comedian or a friend you find hilarious and hear them saying the thoughts in your head.
- SELF-PRAISE, every day say “I am good enough, loveable, worthy, I accept myself, I am important”. If you find this challenging, try inserting “I am learning to know that I am loveable etc.” .The mind learns by repetition and, over time, you can re-programme negative or anxious feelings. You can also write these affirmations on sticky notes and put them where you (and your kids!) will see them.
There are lots of tools and therapies to help you feel less anxious. After experiencing anxiety myself, I am now a qualified Rapid Transformational Therapist specialising in freeing people of all ages from anxiety and issues of low self-worth. Rapid Transformational Therapy is a unique, cutting edge therapy using a mix of hypnosis, regression and psychotherapy dialogue work. It allows us to understand the root cause of our anxious thoughts and the feelings that have come from our subconscious programming, so you can reset the fear response and ‘rewire’ the brain to take on empowering and beneficial thought processes and beliefs.
If you’re struggling with anxious thoughts, please get in touch for a free telephone or online consultation…
[Guest blog written by Emma Gosling, Rapid Transformational Therapy]