How to Fact Check Your Own Thoughts

A highly emotional situation is typically something that you do not see coming. Anything from receiving some bad news to losing someone you love or ending a relationship can elicit intense feelings that are entirely normal and valid.

When you experience fear in the face of something like a highly emotional situation, that fear signals a powerful stress response in your body to help you respond – it sees that you are facing a threat. But what does it mean if you often find yourself feeling these heightened emotions over things that haven’t happened yet and may not happen at all? More than likely, it’s your anxiety talking, meaning the mere thought of a threat can produce the same stress response in your body, only this time it’s not helping – it’s making things worse.

Anxiety will cause you to ask a lot of “what if” questions and resort to worst-case scenarios, and the trouble with anxiety is that it tells you to worry over things that aren’t necessarily true. This does not mean your feelings are invalid, but they are typically out of proportion to the real difficulties of your daily life. In addition to your ongoing worries, anxiety can contribute to low self-esteem and insecurity. It can cause you to question the intentions of others, constantly viewing them as negative or critical.

When the fears and worries that manifest due to your anxiety become excessive, it can interfere with your ability to function at home, work, or in social settings. Your anxiety can cost you your happiness in the present moment unless you learn how to process these unhelpful thoughts and let them go.

Sit with your thoughts

Before you can let go of your anxious thoughts, you must first acknowledge them. Accept that they are there and mindfully confront them. Allow yourself to feel what comes up, rather than avoid your thoughts which can make your anxiety worse.

When you develop a new mindful relationship with your anxious thoughts and learn how to tolerate them, they become less frightening and powerful. Sit with your anxiety so you can give it the space it needs before it dissipates, engraining in your mind that no situation or feeling lasts forever.

Journal about it

Journaling is a simple, practical, and highly effective tool for processing anxious thoughts and releasing them. Try journaling about what’s going on that is causing you to feel highly emotional. Once you’re done, read what you have written. This simple reflection on your worries might illuminate that most concerns you have are likely about what could happen rather than what is happening.

Challenge your thoughts

Your worrisome thoughts have a way of taking rationality out of the picture, so it’s time to put your fears into perspective. Your anxiety can cause you to overestimate the likelihood of something terrible happening, where the potential consequences are worse than they are. Write down the worst thing that could happen, the best possible outcome, and the likely outcome. This exercise will help you approach your thoughts with logic so you can become an observer of your thoughts and replace them with rational alternatives.

Sometimes self-help tips aren’t enough to help people break through difficult cases of anxiety. If anxiety is impacting the quality of life for you or someone you love, don’t hesitate to reach out for support.

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