I recently learned in therapy how you can observe a thought and not judge it. Be with that thought, let it roll down the river in your mind. You can even imagine the actual words flowing down the water. I thought that visual was cool. It can be hard to implement this strategy when your mind is racing and you’re having trouble decoding one thought from the next. But it’s a great way to be mindful if you can manage to do it. Mindfulness is a great tool for managing your mental health.
Thoughts can be upsetting at times and cause one anxiety. One of the things I’ve been working on in therapy is self-soothing when I have intrusive thoughts. It can be hard to manage your anxiety on your own. Sometimes I want to escape it or distract myself by talking to a friend. But I know that the most productive thing is to find a way to remind myself that I can get through this.
Having anxious or intrusive thoughts feels like I am wearing uncomfortable itchy clothing that I can’t take off. I have no choice but to deal with the physical sensations I’m experiencing and find ways to cope. What I’ve learned in therapy (today actually) is that there is no “wrong” way to cope with these sorts of thoughts. The thing to ask yourself is: “is this coping strategy helping or hurting me?” If it’s helping then continue it. But if it’s harmful to you, then it would be best to find an alternative way to self-soothe when you’re experiencing anxious intrusive thoughts.
Intrusive thoughts can impact your relationships.
Anxiety can result in a person appearing clingy, which is unfortunate. I believe that anxiety can be misinterpreted as neediness among other things. I’ve been called dramatic or other pejorative terms because of expressing anxiety. It’s a shame that there is so much stigma surrounding expressing anxiety. In fact, holding that anxiety in (because of shame) can make you feel even more anxious. I’ve been nervous about losing friends because of my anxiety, but I’ve learned that you can’t control who comes in and out of your life. BetterHelp talks about this concept of letting go when you love something, and I believe that’s relevant here. You may love your friend dearly, but you cannot predict or control if she will continue to be present in your life. All you can do is try to be the best friend that you can be, even if you’re anxious. If this friend is meant to stay in your life, she will try to understand your anxiety.
What if you’re afraid your friend won’t understand your anxiety?
It’s like I tell my kids about trying different foods: how do you know you don’t like it until you try it? The same principle applies here. Try to explain how you feel when you’re anxious and if your friend cares about you, they will make an effort to get it. There’s an element of control here that we have to be aware of. Let go of the tendency we have to want to control what happens next. Work on your connections and be loyal to your close friends. The ones that are meant to stay in your life will stay, whether you’re anxious or not.