Ignore Anxiety--Pay Attention to What Anxiety Is Not
It’s no secret that anxiety is very difficult to ignore. Anxiety can be loud and demanding, and as a result, we focus on it. It’s very natural for us to do that, but sadly, focusing on anxiety can make it grow. We need to ignore anxiety by focusing on what anxiety is not.
Perhaps you've nurtured something: a child, a garden, a pet, a person, or other such living thing. Think for a moment about how you did that. When you wanted to encourage a certain behavior (politeness, growth, staying off of furniture, for example), what did you do? I’d venture a guess that you attended to it. You paid attention to the positive in order to help it grow.
Why Ignore Anxiety?
What about the less desirable behaviors? One of the best ways to extinguish negative behaviors is to safely ignore them. The image of an unhappy child, protesting an answer of “no” to some desire, comes to my mind. I recall gently leading a screaming toddler (my own, of course) out of a store without a coveted object in hand. He had about four tantrums in his entire life before realizing that the obnoxious behavior would get him nothing but ignored.
How Does Anxiety Disappear When It's Hard to Ignore?
Anxiety disorders are a bit like screaming toddlers. They have their own special type of tantrum, and they want attention. When nurtured, when attended to like children, plants, and pets, anxiety flourishes. When ignored, it withers. Tune in for more about this.
Peterson, T. (2014, March 26). Ignore Anxiety--Pay Attention to What Anxiety Is Not, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, October 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/03/pay-attention-to-what-anxiety-isnt
Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS
Visual. This has been the best lesson on ignoring anxiety. Ii can truly relate to the blue dot and white paper. Excellent demo of not focusing on the dot which is smaller. I am advanced enough in therapy to focus on the white to get rid of the blue dot. Focus on positive thoughts. Thank you for this demo lesson.
Thank you so much for your feedback. I'm glad that you found the visual to be helpful. Personally, I find visuals to be helpful, and I thought that others might, too. Congratulations on being so far along in your therapy. It's rarely easy to get to the place you describe, but the hard work pays off and feels great. Be proud of yourself, and keep thinking positive thoughts and focusing on the white space!