Is pessimism creating my anxiety?
One of the simplest ways to see what influence your conscious brain has on your outlook toward yourself, the world and your future is by assessing your tendency toward pessimism.
Pessimism takes its place in the way we view our environment and can lead to substantial feelings of anxiety if interpretations lend toward thinking the worst.
Pessimism has shown to activate our right hemisphere leading to withdrawal, discouragement and giving up…all of which are states that can lead to a heightened stress response and depression.
Changing the way we view our environment has shown to increase our levels of Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is involved in pleasure and reward. When the nucleus accumbens of our brain is activated its a sure sign that we are operating from a place of hope, optimism and living in anticipation of positive rewards.
Below is an excerpt from a questionnaire i use in clinic to assess pessimistic tendencies to be able to advise on a strategy to assist clients to find some peace. This is one of 18 points of assessment to gain thorough knowledge of how your environment and mind are causing you to fall in to a state of anxiety. Feel free to give it a go!
- When I have an upcoming presentation or examination I worry about it quite a bit and fear I wont do well
- I generally expect if something can go wrong it will
- I’m often convinced my anxiety will never end
- When I hear that something unexpected has happened to someone I typically imagine that its something negative
- If it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all
- Some people want to improve their lives but that seems pretty hopeless to me
- Most people will let you down so its best not to expect too much
Should you have ticked the many of these boxes you may benefit from cognitive restructuring to reduce stress and anxiety in your life.
Attempting to take a positive view of our environment has shown to activate the left hemisphere of our brain, which lends toward horizontal integration and a sense of balanced wellbeing.
So what can we do to kick start a healthy adaptive point of view of our environment?
1) Coping thoughts – Coping thoughts are thoughts or statements that are likely to have positive effects on your emotional state by changing a negative scenario in to a positive point of view. Example: Change “I can’t stop worrying about this” to “Worrying never fixes anything, it just upsets me”.
2) Replacing thoughts – Replacing negative thought patterns with productive thoughts. Trying to erase a thought isn’t effective and the harder we try the more we enforce the thought. Interrupting thoughts using the word “STOP” and immediately replacing it with another positive thought is more likely that you will keep the last thought out of your mind and reprogram your brain toward more positive adaptive responses.
3) Changing the anxiety channel – If we think of our mind as a television set having hundreds of channels, the anxiety channel is the one that we default to when we fear a future situation or outcome. Catching ourselves in this anxiety channel and distracting ourselves with another topic is a sure way to rewire the brain and create new healthy neural circuits that are not driven by anxiety.
4) Attending to right hemisphere – The right hemisphere specialises in negative emotions and avoidance when in survival mode. Increase left hemisphere activities such as reading thought provoking articles, playing fun games, watching comedy movies, and most importantly exercise.
5) Mindful outlook – Looking at life and your anxious tendencies in a mindful manner is effective in that it can detach you from the stress response rather than being absorbed in its influence. Recognising the response and actively choosing to not act on the anxiety by asking questions and ruminating etc, takes away the power of the stress response and assists in re-programming the brain, to break the cycle of the stress response leading to anxiety.
Cultivating the above processes and repeating them until they become a new habit will make marked improvements to your well being. Neuroscience will tell you it takes 21 odd days to form a new habit, much faster with hypnotherapy.
WHAT CAN YOU ACHIEVE IN 21 DAYS?!
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Clinical Hypnotherapist, Qualified NLP Practitioner, Mindfulness Stress Reduction Teacher, and holds Certificate 4 in Fatigue Management.
I believe that we have all the resources within us that are needed to heal ourselves, although having someone that has walked the walk and undertaken the training needed to facilitate you in effecting the change is essential. Find out how you can work with me here.
BY: Scott Allerton
Overcoming Anxiety, Stress Management