Coping with Anxiety: The Thought Process

20 June 2018

By Jack Mitchell

Anxiety is something everyone feels occasionally, although for those struggling to cope it can be extremely debilitating. Whether we blame society, technology or lifestyle choices, the sheer complexity of the human brain means we’re very much in-the-dark about how the mind works.

The Power of Thoughts

They say knowledge is power, and this is no different regarding mental health. Thoughts are the foundation through which we engage with different aspects of life, and everyone’s perspective is unique, which strongly influences the way they feel.

Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor and Philosopher, simply puts it as ‘our life is what our thoughts make it’. Thoughts are therefore the human mind’s most powerful function, and the way we respond to them strongly affects our outlook. Thoughts can range from the most positive, like those involving love or happiness, to the most negative; usually involving our deepest, darkest fears.

Responding to Thoughts

As human beings, we naturally want to be happy, so it’s understandable to want to push out negative thoughts, like those of hurting someone we love. Unfortunately, the human mind is programmed to sense danger, so negative thoughts are unavoidable. Most people regard these thoughts as a passing image or phrase with no substance. Some of us, however, understandably pay attention to such thoughts, giving them more substance than necessary. This causes us to make judgements about ourselves, which ultimately affects our mood.

The way we see ourselves is fundamental to our happiness, so we must, therefore, deal with thoughts in a pragmatic way, in order to maintain a healthy level of self-worth. People may respond differently to the same event, which, when repeated over time, can turn into an unhealthy habit. In the event of rejection from someone they’re attracted to, Person A might shrug it off and move on, whereas Person B may lie awake for hours considering why they were rejected. Am I unattractive? Did I seem awkward? This is likely to be a massive blow to their confidence and self-esteem, resulting in feelings of inadequacy. As a result, they might develop such a fear of rejection that they decide not to pursue relationships. Social anxiety could become an issue as people develop a fear of social situations, due to feeling they have little or nothing to offer other people.

Just remember that thoughts aren’t necessarily real. The best way to treat them is with objectivity. If you find yourself trying to un-think something, simply accept its presence and the mind [naturally] moves on. Suppressing or denying thoughts causes the brain to focus on them more, which gives them power. Being thankful for the positive things in your life is crucial to your happiness. I’ll now leave you in the caring hands of Allan Watts:

For further help mental health, here are some helpful resources:

Samaritans (UK) – Tel: 116 123

Samaritans website – https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you

Psychology today – https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl 

Re-think – https://www.rethink.org/home

Young minds – https://youngminds.org.uk/



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