A few weeks ago a good friend of mine said to me that she had no idea how I could be a counselor and life coach with so many worrying thoughts in my head. And my answer to them was “well, there’s no one who understands better what it’s like to be anxious than a person with anxiety. I can work with others with anxiety like an insider”.
Yes! I’m the self-proclaimed stress queen, and I’m also the queen of endless what if’s and rumination. Does my story sound familiar?
Not being able to shut off your mind, even to sleep, can be due to thinking over and over about a million different things. Unstoppable thoughts can come rushing to your mind the moment you hit the bed; they can be about the things you have to do tomorrow, and what you were up to today, maybe about what you said that might have hurt someone’s feelings, and why your co-worker didn’t speak back to you when you said hello this morning, what if they don’t speak to you tomorrow, and what if you get upset about them not speaking, what if they are in a bad mood when they come in and what about the bills you have to pay next month, and how you should be more organized, and what will happen if you continue to go on with this level of disorganization, or how you can’t get more organized because you don’t have the time, and how you are such a procrastinator and what if that makes you a bad person, and what if that means you will never accomplish your goals because you can’t even complete tomorrow’s task without worrying about it, and what may happen if you…..
WHEWW! That was a handful to type. However, that was nothing compared to the number of thoughts that can flow throw the mind of an anxious person within a matter of seconds.
Nope. That used to be me (though at times I still feel that way) before I learned about how the cycle of anxiety works and how it is influenced and fed by our thoughts and maladaptive thinking patterns.
Maladaptive thinking patterns are very well-trained players and they can leave you feeling tired in their never-ending game of anxiety. To keep it short and simple, maladaptive thinking patterns are basically distorted patterns of thinking that we all engage in despite the fact that they typically lead to increased levels of anxiety. Often, we don’t even realize that it is our own line of thinking that is spiraling us down into an unending anxiety cycle. That being said, let’s not forget that we all experience some level of anxiety and worry from time to time.Again, it is a normal and often beneficial response to stress.
Stay tuned for the next post to learn more about anxiety and how it affects your thinking pattern!