If you haven’t already ready read the blog Don’t Feed The Cat it would be worth a read now, as it is a follow on from this. In case you haven’t, here is a tiny recap.
If a stray cat came to your house and you feed it, it would come back and the more you feed it the more it comes back. This is just like the habit of worrying, the more you worry about something, the more the worries grow and the more they will come back. If you keep feeding the cat it will grow bigger and scarier, taking over your garden, this is the same thing that can happen with your worries. The pleasure is though, once you know this you can start the process of change. The simple answer is, if you don’t want the worries and the fears don’t feed them, just like the cat if you don’t feed it over time it will go away.
So hopefully you have learnt to curb feeding the cat if the worries come; distract yourself, do something different over time your mind will start forgetting the habit of worry. If you have danger zones when you worry more, then change what you’re doing. For example, if it’s in the car on the way to and from work then get a talking book to listen too, create a song list, learn Spanish, make all your phone calls (all hands-free safe driving though guys). Doing something different will help change the habit and over time your mind won’t be expecting to worry all the way home, but to be listening to the next chapter of your book.
You maybe be thinking why am I still feeling worried or anxious over things even though I am not feeding the worries? There are several ways you could be inadvertently feeding the cat. Just like leaving the bins out or your back door open, your letting the cat feed. Of course he won’t go, even if you don’t put down the food he can always find it. Let’s look at how you could still be feeding your worry habit.
Sometimes we don’t realise we are doing it …It’s so much harder to stop something we don’t know were doing.
If you have got into worrying you may also keep saying to yourself, ‘you’re ok, you can do it, you don’t need to worry,’ this could be feeding your worry habit. You might be saying why that’s then? It’s a positive thing to say and I am only trying to motivate myself. Let’s be honest your mind is not silly and all your mind will be thinking is if you are ok you wouldn’t be having to tell yourself you’re ok. Your mind is just like a computer so its input and output, if you’re not secure about something and you need reassurance your mind just thinks you’re NOT ok.
I think we can get into lots of habits over this negative reassurance issue, we can be doing this without even realising that it’s become part of the problem. First thing then, if you’re doing this, is to stop reassuring yourself. It’s not working and it’s feeding the worry habit. Secondly, you need to keep a watchful eye over yourself and start making sure you are not doing this. These types of habits stem from our childhood. As children, we look for reassurance from our parents, teachers and peers: is this ok? Are we doing the right thing? As parents we spend lots of time reassuring our children and rightly so. For some of us we struggle to make that transition from those childhood learning patterns, to finding our own safety and security within ourselves. If we don’t develop safety within us, we then start looking outside of ourselves for safety. Self-reassurance can be one of the signs we don’t feel as safe and secure as we should. Now it’s time to take action.
If you have read the blog the The Cave Man you will already realise this is an easy thing to do. The big part of our minds, which used to be really busy with real fight or flight responses, has nothing to worry about and so can easily get stuck in these irrational and unnecessary worries. The reassurance was great as a child, but now those habits are out of date and obsolete, they have in fact become part of the problem so it’s time for change.
Another way we can feed out anxieties is by asking or looking for reassurance, maybe we say to our partner will it be ok? Can we do it? Or maybe we go online and google- what is that symptom? What could this mean? Again, like reassuring ourselves it doesn’t work it just feeds the habit. Your mind’s not daft, if you’re asking for reassurance then of course you’re not secure. Stop it and distract yourself, your mind over time will forget about the habit of asking for reassurance just like the Don’t Feed The Cat story.
Be clear with yourself and have zero tolerance to these habits, because once you start it can be harder to stop. Saying no and not having them in your life at all will be much easier to achieve and change will happen a lot quicker with the zero-tolerance rule. Our minds are all about input and output and so in turn as you let go of negative reassurance, it will be your own inner feelings of safety and security which will start growing allowing your mind to follow your lead. If you’re not trying to reassure yourself and not asking for that reassurance, you will feel more secure over time. It will feel strange at first because you been doing this habit maybe as long as you can remember. But do keep reminding yourself of that great saying.
Keep doing the same things and expecting a different result is the first sign of madness
Change does take effort and just like going to the gym you not going to pop out as superman after one session, but after a few weeks you will start seeing the difference. Following these simple rules will allow you to be another step closer towards being anxiety free. Next week we will continue to look at the habit of feeding your anxiety and how other things you may be doing, which you may not even be aware of, are fuelling fears and insecurities with in you.
Thanks for dropping by Sara x