All of us have negative thoughts. And we have “lots of them,” writes professor Mark Reinecke, Ph.D, in his book Little Ways to Keep Calm and Carry On: Twenty Lessons for Managing Worry, Anxiety and Fear.
And all of us worry about the same things, everything from work and school to health and relationships. What separates an anxious person from a calm one isn’t the content of their thoughts, it’s the connotation.
According to Reinecke, “The types of intrusive, negative thoughts that anxious, worried people experience differ little, however, from the thoughts of nonanxious people. The difference is in the meaning given to the thoughts.”
If you’re a worrywart, or especially anxious, you might think, “This thought is awful. I shouldn’t be thinking this; I have to make it stop,” says Reinecke, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and chief of the division of psychology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
But, as he points out, the more we try to squelch a thought, the bigger and bothersome it becomes. So how can you deal with these kinds of intrusive, troublesome thoughts?