Irrational fears are something I spent a good portion of my time in therapy talking about. After a few months and several hundred dollars, my irrational fears no longer caused panic attacks and I was even able to laugh at them! Sometimes I catch myself slipping into my old way of thinking, which is to worry about every little thing. I have often wondered what life would be like if I didn’t worry so much. I know there are people who just don’t care what others think about them or what tomorrow holds, but I can’t fathom what that would feel like. I have been known to even worry about whether or not I’m going to be worried about something! It’s just part of who I am.
The most important thing I learned in counseling, regarding anxiety, was the skill of observing my own thoughts without judgment. Ken (my phenomenal therapist) would often challenge me to observe my thoughts as an outsider. He would stress that I wasn’t allowed to try and change my thoughts or put labels on them, I just had to “watch” what happened. Observing your thoughts allows you to start seeing patterns, and helps you to realize what your “go to” anxiety causing thoughts are. Again, you’re not allowed to try and change your thoughts. The idea is that observing them will teach you to accept them, and they will eventually change themselves. It was a fun exercise and really helped me with my anxiety. Ken said that he did it for so long it became second nature to him. He used to struggle with anxiety and panic attacks and hasn’t had an anxiety attack since the 1970′s. Simply amazing!
A few of my irrational fears that sometimes pop into my head?
- I will be driving down the highway and will faint for no apparent reason. My car will run into a ditch and go up in flames
- When I go into my garage there will be an angry homeless man who tries to fight me
- When I’m walking down stairs I will trip, fall down the whole flight, and crack all of the teeth out of my head
- I get a little bit nervous when I eat and drive. What if I choke?! Who will give me the Heimlich?
- I have a fear of drinking water from a glass if it has been sitting out for over an hour. Have you ever seen the tiny particles that rest on top of the water when it is left alone for awhile? Ick
My irrational fears change depending on the day, the weather, the number of crime shows I have recently watched, and my sugar intake. Sometimes I feel fearless and sometimes I worry that I’m going to trip while brushing my teeth and the toothbrush will lodge itself in the back of my throat. [this fear may not be so irrational, I do trip a lot.]
Overall? I have learned to enjoy these insane scenarios that my overactive right brain sometimes creates. As Ken would say “did you enjoy yourself? Are you liking the stories that your brain is coming up with?” Back then? No, they would freak me out and make me never want to leave my room. Now? Yes, I can laugh at them and give my brain some serious props, it sure is creative.