Choosing To Be Anxious?

I’ve always struggled with the notion that we choose to be anxious. I don’t choose the knot in my stomach or the tightening in my chest. I don’t choose to lose the feeling in my extremities or the shivering and shaking however I’m realising that I choose how I react to these sensations.

I’ve lost a whole day of my weekend to anxiety and guilt. It’s been building up for about a week now. Every time those physical sensations arise my brain starts pulling up past mistakes and I go over and over the same thing, guilt consuming me and panic rising. I’ve been doing a lot of reading around staying in the moment and focusing on rational thought but it’s so hard to do. Very often by the time I’m realising that I’ve slipped in to these ruminations I’ve maybe been worrying about them for 15-20 minutes, just zoned out, going over and over things that I can’t change or fix.

I’m trying a combination of things to stay in the present but to distract myself from the thoughts – such as writing this blog post – but it’s easier said than done. I don’t know about you, but I find that I do so many things on auto-pilot that it’s so easy to slip back in to negative thinking regardless of what you’re doing. I’m reading a particular gripping book at the moment but even little things like when they talk about people making mistakes instantly brings me back to the perceived problem that my brain just can’t get past.


There’s a CBT technique around correcting your thinking that I’ve also been trying when I can catch the thoughts early. The idea is that when the negative thought arises you recognise it for what it is and call it out. If you continue to do this, eventually, in theory when the negative feeling/thought crops up your brain will automatically correct it before it causes anxiety.

I suppose I’ve always believed that we have the choice to not be anxious (at least on the thoughts side) but I’ve just never found a way to execute that. I understand that living in the moment is the only way to truly be happy. We can’t change the past and have no control over the future – rationally I know that worrying about either is just a waste of energy, taking away from the positive experience I could be having of the here and now, but try as I might, no matter how often I remind myself of that, I just can’t shut off the worrying part of my brain.

Do you struggle with controlling your negative/problematic thinking? Do you have any techniques that you find helpful? Let me know in the comments.

V ā¤


14 thoughts on “Choosing To Be Anxious?

  1. Katie Henry says:

    Great post! I completely get you, you can’t help being anxious. I tend to get anxious in different, unfamiliar situations but I always try to stay calm and take a moment to breath because it will be over soon, or I try to talk to someone about it. Wishing you lots of luck with everything x


  2. Carissa Lam (@carissalam_x) says:

    Thanks for this great post! I think everyone goes through those phases of being anxious and that’s just being human. I think blogging is a very good outlet for expressing yourself and I find talking to others about how you feel really helps, so don’t keep all your emotions to yourself, you need to let it out šŸ™‚ And yes, focus on being happy in the present and live in the moment! xxx


  3. Ana De-Jesus says:

    I agree that we do not choose to be anxious and it makes me mad when people presume that we do! Sometimes I can lose entire days to anxiety and while it can be hard to control I find that having time out and focusing on breathing helps x


  4. kirstyralph11 says:

    I tried CBT but found in uneffective for me personally. I can’t really explain my turn around but I think my MH actually got better after my dad passed away as weird as it sounds, I think it was a big wake up call and that made me realise not to focus on the little insignificant things and look at the bigger picture. It’s hard living with anxiety but it’s interesting to read the psychology behind it x


    • sirvikalot says:

      That doesn’t weird at all, sometimes we need a big shock/upset to change things in our lives. I’m so sorry for your loss.

      I’ve heard a lot of people say that CBT doesn’t work for them and the research is starting to reflect that but the NHS has decided that that’s the approach that will cure us all.

      V ā¤


  5. Milly Youngman says:

    This is a really insightful and interesting post. I don’t struggle too much with anxiety per se, but definitely have times where I think negatively a lot.


  6. helerinablogs says:

    You are right, anxiety isn’t something we choose. I’ve suffered with anxiety and negative / magnification thinking. CBT is what has helped me the most. Though it’s sometimes hard to realise what it is and catch it in time.


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