Recognizing warning signs

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 something constructive about them. So make a list with thoughts you have when you get worried, physical sensations and also actions you feel driven to take.

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Self Improvement

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Practices to tend to your emotions
  • Catch yourself worrying. 
  • Turn your attention to your body and notice sensations you can identify (muscles are tense, heart beating nausea).
  • Don’t get involved with your worrisome thoughts
  • Try to label or name your emotion, whether it’s anxiety, dread, fear, trepidation, anger, irritation, shame, or sadness.
  • Tell yourself that it’s okay that you feel what you feel, that your emotion won’t kill you, and try your best to simply let it be there for as long as it’s there.
Build the Mindfulness muscles
  • Acceptance: accept that the worries are here and stop trying to make them go away.
  • Attention: get out of your thoughts and focus on the world around you.
  • Labeling: When a worry pops up, label it as “a worrying thought.” It’s not you. Do not identify with it and don't let it overtake you.
Opposite Action

It’s a technique where you deliberately expose yourself to the thing that is making you anxious.

It helps your brain to figure out which places or people are not actually dangerous and don’t need to be avoided. Once your brain makes that connection, your fear tends to diminish, you stop wanting to avoid things or people, and your life opens up so that you have more freedom to go where you want to go and do what you want to do.

Mindfulness = anxiety antidote

Trying to push the worries out of your head is inherently problematic because to be vigilant about not thinking about something, your brain needs to keep it in mind. 

Mindfulness does the opposite by making you aware of your state of anxiousness.

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.

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.

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Mindfulness
It involves paying attention to something while letting go of judgments and assumptions. Don’t try to change it. Instead, be open to the experience, regardless of whether you like or dislike it. 

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Most of the time we don’t second guess them, and even if we do, they often end up overwhelming us. 

Negative feelings are very powerful and harder to question: we identify with them effortlessly. “I feel it, so it must be true” is often our default setting.

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Challenge Unhelpful Thoughts

Listen to your thoughts — but don’t necessarily believe them.

They're suggestions, possibilities. But they’re not gospel. You can’t control what thoughts pop up, but you can decide what is helpful and choose not to give the unhelpful thoughts any more attention than they deserve.

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