Our Thoughts Matter

Our Thoughts Matter

Anxiety is a gift!  Without anxiety, we may not study for a test, move out of the way of an oncoming car or make it to work on time.  Anxiety creates an urgency or fear that alerts us to what we find important and propels us to act so we move in the direction of our goals.  All good right?  Not always.

Sometimes, anxiety can go into overdrive.  Our thoughts and fears remain heightened, we ruminate about people, things and situations, we have difficulty sleeping, we may even experience the distressing physical symptoms of a panic attack.  At this point anxiety is no longer a gift it has become a set of symptoms that interfere in the productivity of our life and our ability to feel contentment, peace and joy.

We now know that with equal life experiences and troubles, one person may develop panic attacks while another person does not.  What is going on here?  Well, research has shown us that the person who develops panic attacks often has a different thinking style than the person who does not develop heightened anxiety.  Cognitive Behavior Therapy identifies 10 unhealthy thinking styles that contribute to or increase the risk of developing anxiety and depression.

One of those unhealthy thinking styles is Black or White thinking.  Black or White thinking can best be explained through an example.  Some people may feel that either they pass their exam with an A or they are a loser.  This type of assessment usually creates heightened distress and fear/anxiety.  If I do not do well again, what does that say about me?  Those with a different thinking style, meaning they do not adhere to Black and White thinking may interpret the same situation differently.  They may say to themselves, “I am disappointed I did not get an A, but I did pass and I can try to make it up by the end of the semester.”

If you believe you could use help with your anxiety, consider CBT to improve your thinking skills.  Thoughts do Matter.