Anxiety is often caused by the lingering effects of negative memories. In this article, you will be given tools to help you identify which memories are unresolved and how you can use simple thinking tools to heal your anxiety.
- think about the scary memory longer than the pleasant memory when you do the meditation exercise
- assume that the scariest things that happened to you will always happen
- try to fight it or deny that it if you are having a panic attack
- believe that you will never be able to handle stressful situations
- avoid the situations and things that you are anxious or phobic about
Anxiety takes many forms. It can be a panic attack where you feel like you are having a heart attack. It can be fear of a specific thing, such as spiders, water, medical equipment or closed spaces. A specific phobia was probably caused by a bad memory related to the feared object. For example, if you were knocked down by a big wave the first time you went in the ocean you can be afraid of water. General anxiety is caused by the belief that you will not be able to handle something. Memories of scary situations, such as parents fighting can cause you to believe that life is too much and you can’t handle it. It is helpful to get pictures, ask people what happened, and change the way you view the memory. By looking at pictures and talking to parents or others from your past you will retrieve good and bad memories. The next four ideas will show you how to resolve the memories.
Select a pleasant memory and a scary memory. Close your eyes, get comfortable, and visualize the pleasant memory for about 15 minutes. Then visualize the scary memory for about five minutes. Don’t be too rigid about the timing. After five minutes visualize the pleasant memory for ten more minutes. Notice how you feel about the scary movie. You are likely to no longer be afraid.
hen you are anxious, you probably have developed many beliefs such as, “I can’t handle much,” “Life is scary,” and “People are scary.” Write the beliefs that you have from the positive as well as the negative memory. Compare the beliefs and see if any beliefs from the positive memory contradict the belief from the negative. For example, “I can’t handle much,” then you remember handling a difficult situation in the past. The belief can change to “I handled something as challenging as this in the past, so I can handle anything that is as challenging as this or less challenging.”
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a form of anxiety. People with OCD check doorknobs, burners, locks, over and over to make sure that it is taken care of. Although it was taken care of (locked, shut off) the first time. One simple technique for handling this is to say out loud “Door locked, burner off” etc. The sound remains in your mind for up to a minute, so it can be reassuring that you did turn the burner off and lock the front door.
If you do not have positive memories to override the negatives you can take action, with the support of a friend or a therapist. For example, suppose you were trapped in an elevator and am now afraid of elevators. You could go into an elevator with your therapist guiding you through the experience. If you are afraid of the water you and a friend could take swimming lessons.
Do not think about the scary memory longer than the pleasant memory when you do the meditation exercise
The purpose of the meditation is to eliminate the anxious feeling by flooding it with pleasant feelings. It will work only if you spend more time on the pleasant memory and the associated feelings.
People with anxiety often anticipate the worst outcome so they will not be blindsided when it happens. The problem with this is that you will feel anxious all the time. It is better to be mindful and only think of what you are doing at the moment.
The worst thing you can do when you are anxious or panicking is to try to fight it. This will only put more pressure on you and you will become more anxious. Ironically, when you acknowledge that you are having an attack it can lessen the intensity. Denying that it is there will make it worse because that is similar to saying that there are no weeds in your garden when there are. The weeds will take your garden and the panic will get worse.
If you believe that you can’t handle something you will always be anxious. Some people are so anxious that they never leave their house. They need to heal their memories and beliefs that caused them to be afraid.
Avoiding a fear only makes the fear stronger. It is better to face it. In the previous example, if you fear water and take swimming lessons, the more times you are in the water and do not drown the less fearful you will become. You will gain confidence as you learn the strokes. Face your fears.
There are many ways that you can change your thinking when you feel anxious. Apply the techniques and you not only can eliminate anxiety, but you will feel empowered that you can control your thinking and consequentially control your feelings. Then you can move on to a happier and more successful present and future.
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