Have you ever noticed that anxious thoughts are like a broken record?
I know with Ipods etc. it’s a bit outdated to be using a record analogy here but it works well to illustrate a key point about anxious thoughts.
Remember when a record got scratched it made a very unpleasant sound and caused the needle to get stuck on the same groove.
The same one line would play over and over again ad nauseam until you picked up the needle and moved it past the scratch.
Anxious thoughts are bit like this. You might be happily going about your day and then something triggers an anxious thought.
The worry the thought creates sends an unpleasant shock wave through your nervous system. (The scratch on the record).
Then once you start reacting to the anxious thought it is hard to stop thinking about it over and over again. (The needle stuck in a groove)
The repetitive anxious thought can last minutes, hours , days depending on how upset you become by the thought.
I want to share with you a quick technique to jump out of this anxious groove. This technique is you learning how to pick up the record needle and move it past the scratch.
Here it is:
1, Observe 2, Trust 3, Move
Observe the anxious thought and label it. Say
“Oh there is fear X again, imagine that”
Try your very best to not get sucked into reacting emotionally to the thought.
Trust that what you are worrying about will in all probability never come about. Almost all the anxious thoughts we have are a complete waste of our energy.
Trust that things will work out fine.
Joseph Cossman said “If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today.”
If you are religious/spiritual then hand your anxious thought over to a higher power. Trust that there is nothing to fear and you will be looked after.
Trust and let it go.
“Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He’s going to be up all night anyway. ” ~Mary C. Crowley
Move your attention elsewhere. Focus on something positive that takes your mind out of the anxious groove.
Replace the anxious thought with a positive thought. You are not trying to suppress the anxious thought, you are simply moving your attention elsewhere. To continue the record analogy, you pick the record needle up (your attention) and move it out of the groove it was caught in.
If you are engaged in an activity then move your attention fully there. Be 100% present in the moment.
If you are walking focus on the surroundings, if you are driving observe all the sights and sounds. If you are with someone focus all your attention on them.
By moving your attention into the present moment there is no room for anxious thoughts to dominate your mind.
Play around with both moving your attention to positive thoughts or into the present moment. Different people find one or the other is easier to accomplish. The key thing is to move your mind out of the anxious groove and put you back in your natural flow.
So to sum up remember O.T.M.
Observe, Trust, Move
It takes a bit of practice but as long as you remember the above 3 steps you will be able to dramatically eliminate anxious thoughts from your day.