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What My Anxious Mind Believes People Are Thinking About Me

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For someone who has anxiety, or for anyone who is an over-thinker for that matter, there is an understood rule: We often degrade ourselves and make up things that people aren’t really thinking. What do I mean? Here’s an example:

A friend hasn’t talked to me in a little while, maybe several weeks. Last time we talked the subject of my anxiety came up, and I feel like I may have over-shared with that person. So I am now thinking, Of course, that person is being silent because they think I am “crazy,” strange, maybe even annoying. Who wants to be friends with someone who worries all the time? How could they just desert me like that, though? Now I am upset. Thinking, Wow, there goes another friend lost. After maybe a month I hear from that person. And now I have harbored resentment against them and act coolly. With the toss of my head I say, “Oh, how nice to hear from you.” All the while thinking, This is fake, like they really care.

OK, so this may be an extreme example. But I would say it is just one of the ways someone with anxiety may think — this is just the thought pattern of someone who may either expect to be rejected, or worries when they do not hear from others. In the other person’s mind it may just seem like life has gotten busy and there hasn’t been time to catch up with all the people they would like to talk to. So why is their friend acting so passive aggressively all of a sudden?

Well, it is because we expect others to be thinking about us what we think or say about ourselves. Do I daily tell myself about all my failures and call myself stupid? You bet I do. So after a long time of doing this, it is only natural that I assume others are thinking these things, too. But it just isn’t true. These things we imagine about ourselves and others is wrong, because those thoughts are based on our own undervaluing of ourselves.

The biggest thing I think I would say to someone who struggles with anxiety, depression or even someone who just thinks too much is this: Step back and realize you are your own worst enemy. Take your thoughts captive, and reverse the way you think. Stop speaking negative words over your life. Be positive and love yourself as much as you love others. Those compliments you give to others? Try saying them out loud to yourself. Start recognizing your successes instead of dwelling on your failures.

Anxious person, this post is about you. I have previously written about what the loved one in your life should or shouldn’t say to you, but this post is about what you should and shouldn’t say to yourself. Replace words like ” stupid,” “failure,” “worthless” and “hopeless” with words like “loved,” “valued,” “beautiful” and “talented.” Because friend, you are those latter words. We all fail, we all make mistakes and we all have our bad days. But if I know you, I know you are going to take those things a little harder than those around you might. And you are going to turn those feelings into an angry storm of self-defeat. Hear me say: Don’t do it! This road leads to destruction.

And if ever you need that reminder from a friend, write to me and I will remind why you are beautiful, loved, talented and worthy.

Originally published: August 7, 2016
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