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Do we sometimes scare ourselves with our thoughts?

Have you ever worried about something that hasn't happened yet, or something that's out of your control? It's a common human tendency to do so, and we often blame external factors like the environment, other people, or our jobs for our anxiety.

Anxiety is characterised by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure. People with anxiety disorders often have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns and may avoid certain situations out of worry. Phobias, which are classified as anxiety disorders, involve an extreme and irrational fear of a specific object or situation.

One Friday in July after a yoga session, I saw a BMW 4x4 that had mounted the pavement and destroyed three parked bicycles. I later found out that one of the bikes belonged to a lady from the yoga class. Someone commented, "can you imagine what would have happened if she had come out 10 minutes earlier?" However, there's no way of knowing if the accident would have happened if she had come out earlier. The lady no longer parks her new bike outside.

It's easy to scare ourselves with imaginary horrors. A friend of mine was stuck in a lift for 35 minutes 14 years ago and now claims to be claustrophobic. But is it really claustrophobia, or is she scaring herself with memories of being stuck in the lift?

Another friend was hesitant to tell me about a new movie he'd seen, which was about a shipwreck. He thought it would scare me because I had recently gone on a sailing holiday. He scared himself and decided never to go on any water vessel again, but was it really the movie that caused it?

We tend to talk ourselves into anxiety and phobias by giving life to our scary thoughts. But the next time you have a scary or negative thought that stops you from doing something, ask yourself, "Is it real, or is it just my imagination working really well?"

If you were to think about all the things that could go wrong in a day, you probably wouldn't get out of bed. But there's a secret to living without phobias and daily anxiety:

It's our own thoughts that produce feelings, moods, and our overall perceptions of life (Sydney Banks, 'The Missing Link').


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