We all experience anxiety. It’s a natural emotion.
And sometimes, it’s even useful.
Those anxious moments can light a fire in you to take action, move forward and get things done.
Except when they don’t.
More often than not, anxiety (or anxious thinking) is an obstacle to action and an impediment to growth. It can feel like a spider’s web that sticks to more and more of you the harder you struggle to free yourself from it.
Anxious thinking is the thought story you create based on something that happened to you or based on a feeling you're experiencing.
It’s a story filled with negative self-talk, blame, and catastrophizing. It can be so automatic that you don’t even realize you’re doing it until after the anxiety has set in.
There’s good news.
You can learn to recognize anxious thinking early in the process and use mindfulness to nip it in the bud. (Before it takes hold of your day, your night, or your week!)
The answer is in self-compassion.
A 2010 meta-study on anxiety and depression showed that participants who reported higher levels of self-compassion were much less likely to report feelings of anxiety and depression.
THIS WEEK'S TIP
Shifting From Anxious Thinking to Self-Compassion:
1. NOTICE – When you hear yourself self-criticize, blame, or catastrophize, pause and make note of:
- the words you use
- the feelings they evoke
- the places in your body that feel tense or uncomfortable
2. B R E A T H E – Now direct your attention to your breath
- Pay attention to your breath as you inhale and exhale normally
- Direct your thinking to the place where your breath feels the most obvious (lungs, nostrils, belly, etc…)
3. SOFTEN – Come back into your mind
- Notice where any anxious thinking exists
- Soften into it, without judging your thoughts or yourself, without adding to the story, simply allow the anxious thoughts to be there
4. RELEASE – Let go of any tension in your body
- As you inhale, notice the way your body straightens and expands
- As you exhale, notice the way your body relaxes, melting into its natural state.
5. B R E A T H E – End by directing your attention back to your breath. Notice any shifts in the way you feel.
Repeat whenever you hear that self-critical inner voice. ; )
Want me to walk you through it?
Click the audio link below: