Ease Anxiety by Asking Yourself This Question

Ease Anxiety by Asking Yourself This Question
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There’s no quick trick to conquering anxiety. Anyone who struggles with anxiety to any degree knows this. Many people, even during the best of times, intensely or excessively worry about everyday situations. And I wouldn’t exactly classify 2020 as “the best of times.”

But occasionally someone lands on a way to reframe persistent — and often unfounded — anxious thoughts in a way that is both simple and practical. For me, this week, that came from Twitter:

The more I thought about that question — Who told you that? — the more situations I could think to apply it to, from the big anxieties to the small.

My boss thinks I did a shitty job on that project.

Who told you that?

My best friend hasn’t called me in a week; she’s mad at me.

Who told you that?

I’m a terrible parent/sibling/partner/friend.

Who told you that?

I’m not strong enough or good enough or talented enough or experienced enough.

Who told you that?

Asking yourself for a source of the information forces you to do a little internal fact-checking on your own anxiety. It prompts you to evaluate how you’ve reached a certain conclusion and whether, perhaps, you’re overreacting or jumping to conclusions.

Yeah, maybe your boss usually tells you how you’ve done a great job at the end of a long project and this time, they didn’t. There are any number of potential reasons that are not about how you did a shitty job — they’re busy, they’re distracted, they figure you know you did a great job because you always do a great job!

Asking yourself to back up your own conclusion can be one way to assess whether your fear is based in fact or whether you may be reading into more than is actually there.

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