Mindfulness - Deepstash

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Why we are hard-wired to worry, and what we can do to calm down

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice of observing our mind's activity and is the antidote to worry.

Mindfulness results in increased attention, better working memory, and an awareness of mind while enriching the neural connections of the brain.

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Anxiety is rewarding

Each time we worry and nothing bad happens, our mind connects worry with preventing harm:

Worry → nothing bad happens.

And the takeaway is, "It's a good thing I worried."&nbs...

Beliefs about worry
  • If I worry, I'll never have a bad surprise.
  • It's safer if I worry. We believe that the act of worrying itself somehow lowers the likelihood of a dreaded outcome. 
  • I show I care by worrying. We need to distinguish between caring about a situation and worrying needlessly and fruitlessly about it. 
  • Worrying motivates me. We need to differentiate between unproductive worry and productive concern and problem solving.
  • Worrying helps me solve problems. Extreme worry is more likely to interfere with problem-solving. 
Tools to assist us with worry
  • Calm the nervous system with guided muscle relaxation, meditation, and exercise. 
  • Notice when you're worrying and any beliefs that reinforce worry.  Awareness of the process gives us more choice in how we respond.
  • Embrace uncertainty. Most of the things we care about in life involve uncertainty. It takes considerable practice to begin to embrace it.
  • Live in the present. Practice focusing your attention on the present in everyday activities like taking a shower, walking, or talking with a friend, as well as in more formal practices like meditation or yoga.
  • When we face our fears head-on, they tend to diminish. Deliberately accept what you're afraid of: "It's possible I'll miss my flight." 
Recognizing warning signs

The most dangerous emotions are the ones you don’t know are affecting you. When you know what happens when the worries start, you’ll be relieved and you'll also be able to do some...

Anxiety vs. Fear
  • Fear is what you feel in the moment when someone comes at you with a knife. 
  • Anxiety is about the anticipation of an event. Anxiety is often problem-solving — but without the solving part.
Avoiding bad feelings doesn't work

Whenever you have the urge to avoid, you need to realize that’s an opportunity to weaken your worries. It’s a chance to practice more mindfulness. Shift your focus away from your thoughts and back to the concrete world.

Worry

... is an attempt to mentally problem-solve something that either isn’t really a problem or isn’t a problem that’s solvable.

Worry leads to unnecessarily high levels of stress and anxi...

Worry ‘Tastes’ Good
  1. Worry feels good because it gives us something (rather than nothing) to do. And this makes us feel a little less helpless and out of control.
  2. Like the body craves calories, the mind craves control. When faced with a fearful situation that we can’t actually do anything about, we give ourselves the illusion of control (and relief from helplessness) by engaging worry.
How to Cure Worry

In order to stop running away from the feeling of helplessness, we have to train ourselves to be okay with feeling helpless and out of control.

When you worry, try to identify the cause or trigger for the worry and notice how it makes you feel emotionally. Be willing to just feel and be with your uncomfortable emotions.