To suffer from anxiety is incredibly painful. In many of us it also manifests as uncomfortable physical symptoms such as a dull knot or pain in the stomach, tightening in shoulder muscles, sweaty palms, etc. A panic attack can present as a shortness of breath, light headedness, a rise in blood pressure and a fast pulse rate.
A key question regarding anxiety is to find its origin. Anxiety is a feeling. At the core of it lies fear. Feelings are directly linked with our thoughts. So, what our thoughts are, manifest in feelings and actions. A key way to discover what these thoughts are, is to start taking note of our self-talk. This means to become cognisant of what we say to ourselves specifically about ourselves all day every day. Self–talk is the verbal component if thinking.
In my professional experience, four “inner voices” that trigger anxiety can be identified. These are:
Worry. When we worry we are inclined to use language such as “What if such or such happens?” Of course this is mostly negative. We anticipate the future with trepidation and negativity instead of hope, solution-mindedness and courage to embrace challenges successfully.
Critic. Here we criticise ourselves nonstop. Typical thoughts would be “I am not good enough,” “I am not loveable” or “I hate myself.”
Victim. The victim feels “done in” by others or the world. It is a “poor me” attitude. This of course implies that victims do not take responsibility for problems they experience and blame others for their misfortunes.
Perfectionist. It is not possible for us human beings to ever be perfect. One can even say that it is a tiny bit presumptuous to assume that we can be this. After all, we are merely fallible human beings. Of course it is crucial to try ones best, but also to accept at the same time that we all make mistakes. It makes for a life ruled by “must’s” and “should’s;” of constant strict instructions to self.
- Can you relate to any of the above inner voices?
- If so, how does it affect your life?
- Can you think of any more productive ways to conduct your inner conversation?
- If you should succeed in trying this, what are the results of your mood?