Have you ever talked to yourself in a self-deprecating manner or found yourself worrying about something in the future that may never happen? We’ve all done it.
“What if I should fall asleep and miss my flight?”
“What’s the point of another relationship? It’ll end in failure”
“I can’t get another cat. I can’t handle another one dying.”
Anxiety = Lack of control, fear of mistakes, playing out scenarios
This negative self-talk expresses our anxiety, it suggests we are afraid of not being in control of a situation – we focus on our fears, we worry that we might repeat mistakes and we think too much of what might go wrong.. we play out scenarios based on failure.
If we continuously beat ourselves up over what could happen based on what we perceive as permanent life problems, we never accept challenges and learn to move forward from mistakes and sad situations.
The difference between children and adults
Children don’t have a long history of problems and mistakes. They quite often feel unabated humor and laughter instead.
When I was seven years old, travelling to Italy in a plane over the Alps, there was sudden, extreme turbulence. My older brother and I laughed and whooped at every bump. My innocent mind told me it was like a roller-coaster ride but my parents were terrified.. what if the plane went down? what if the children died? When I travel now I experience turbulence and imagine another situation to help me get through it. I close my eyes and imagine I’m in a 4 x 4 truck on a bumpy dirt road, I breathe deeply and relax as much as possible, I realize that there are experienced pilots on board and I don’t think of “What if’s”. I try to remember the little girl who wasn’t frightened.
I’m lucky I have never been in an extremely harrowing situation in a plane but I don’t think it helps to imagine one either or I would never fly again.
What advice would you give?
Try to think, if there was someone else just like you, going through worry and fear, talking about what could happen.. what advice would you give them to feel better? Often we are able to give others suggestions and don’t apply the same solutions to ourselves.
How can we prevent negative self-talk and panic? We can act like perfectionists when it comes to running our own lives and we don’t like it when we have lack of control or are doing poorly. We often judge ourselves harshly and are far less compassionate to ourselves than to others.
Maybe we need to ask ourselves if this negative self-talk is based on solid evidence or are we really purposely trying to sabotage ourselves from moving in a new, challenging direction that we are afraid of?
Positive self-talk can sometimes make us believe we are too self-serving and we often don’t give ourselves enough credit. Try writing what your character is like on a piece of paper. Good and bad points. Read the bad then the good. Are you being too hard on yourself? Do you have some solid, worthwhile characteristics? If this feels uncomfortable then you need to give yourself a break and maybe a pat on the back once in a while.
Before you go to bed tell yourself you have no reason to worry and if problems do materialize then deal with them at that time.
For a long time I was afraid other people close to me would die. Eventually a psychologist said “Yes, eventually we all die, but until then, let’s be thankful we can live” It takes someone like that to snap you out of your negativity.
When we examine what we are worrying about, we start becoming aware of how much we worry and, eventually, we begin to realize that worry doesn’t help.
What’s your experience? Are you a worrier and is it necessary?