Persistent, obsessive, intrusive and unwelcome thoughts are major cornerstones of an anxiety disorder. You may also hear the terms “obsessive thoughts” and “worries.” When I have them they seem to stay stuck, like a record skipping (which is a dated reference now 😀).
Not only are these thoughts repetitive they can grow louder and more persistent. In my example of anxious thoughts I have had and occasionally still have a fear that gravity will stop and I would float up and die. Seems silly right? My logical mind agrees yet why does the thought persist?
Part of the reason that anxious thoughts persist is that they become stronger when we start to believe and respond to them. After all our brain – the amygdala in particular – is trying to keep us safe, so we are reinforcing it’s behavior when we react anxiously towards it!
Below is one simple statement that I learned in outpatient therapy that can strip anxious thoughts of their power:
Also consider the accuracy of our anxious thoughts. When we worry about what may happen we are generally wrong. If you don’t believe me look at what anxious thoughts you’ve had recently and ask yourself if it came true. The reality is that the battering average (how often it’s right) of anxious thoughts is very low – frankly, it sucks! If anxiety was a batter in major league baseball it wouldn’t make it to the minor leagues.
I hope this helps, and please comment below with any other tools you use to strip anxious thoughts of their power!