I think the worst of everyone and everything, getting worse

Postby happyvampire3 » Sun Apr 16, 2017 10:19 pm

I have always had a little anxiety but it's increased in the last few months (but not much has changed in my life). I am 23 years old, female.

My brain seems to think the worst about everything, the thought forces itself to the front of my mind and takes over. For example, I will be watching a great movie/seeing a concert and my brain will think 'Oh, lets remember the awful news story i saw the other day about a little girl getting abducted, isn't that awful, imagine what's happening to her...'

Or I will see a girl and an older man walking side by side and I'll think 'what if he's a pervert kidnapping her and I'm watching them just walk by...'

It's mostly stuff like that but it can be things like 'What if (my long-term boyfriend) gets hit by a car on the way home from work and dies, I would miss him so much it hurts to think about...' even if he's walked home for work 1000 times and nothing has ever happened! I imagine my family having a huge car accident, I'm constantly thinking sockets in my house will catch fire or my washer will flood.... everything bad/awful that could happen leaps into my thoughts. I keep thinking my family are going to die and leave me alone.

I know it's logically very silly and everything is deeply unlikely but I want the thoughts gone :( I never used to think this and I wonder why I do now. It's so sad and brings me down. I dig myself deeper with things like 'Why am I even bothering with my photo album, somebody will throw it in the trash when I die, what's the point...' even though the logical side of my brain is screaming 'Because it matters to you, right now!'

I used to work in a nursing home with sick and elderly people (I cared for them so much but couldn't work there as it really depressed me). I'm so down about getting older even though I'm still young, as I'm haunted by how helpless and sick they were, going from their strong younger selves to frail and weak. It really upset me. I've not been the same since so it could be related. How can I change this and think more positively?
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Postby popcorn123 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 2:48 pm

Hi happyvampire3,

I hope you are well. I just came across your post and I realise that I am somewhat similar to yourself.

I am also prone to thinking the worst, but in my case I tend to focus more on thinking the worst about what other people think of me and I generally think negatively of people's behaviour. This leads me to anxious thoughts about how other people perceive me and I am always very indecisive about how to behave in different situations. I have sometimes had the situation where I think of the worst case scenario for bad events, but I don't seem to dwell on these thoughts as much as you do. I also have had lapses where I want to push away meaningful things, which I link to feelings of deep sadness, usually following a disappointing or stressful time.

I have begun to recognise these negative thoughts and feelings (especially with the help and advice of family) and have tried to begin overcoming them by changing my thought processes and attempting to develop a positive outlook. There are some pieces of advice that I have come across, which I would like to share, as they may also help you.

1) Challenge the negative thoughts - When those bad thoughts pop into your mind, challenge them immediately. You could come up with alternative explanations perhaps. For example the girl and older man are walking side by side - 1st thought is "what if he is a pervert kidnapping her..." - 2nd thought is the challenge: "actually it's more likely that he is her father taking her somewhere." We are often told to think of people as innocent until proven guilty and I think maybe in this situation that rule applies. But I think the key is to challenge the thought, and then not dwell on it, because that whips up more anxiety and takes more energy.

2) Dispel your anxieties - You could actually tackle the worst-case scenario thoughts head on. If you think of the worst situation that could happen and prepare 3 solutions for it, you may be able to minimise the anxiety in two ways. First of all having the plans in place to react may help you understand that you can still overcome the situations. Secondly, you may actually find that by directly addressing the thoughts in a logical manner, perhaps writing them down, puts them into perspective and you realise that your anxiety is a bit of an overreaction. There is apparently something called 'defensive pessimism', which is where considering the worst-case scenario can actually help diffuse worries if you come up with actionable strategies to avoid it. So it is actually good in some ways to think of bad outcomes, as you can plan and prepare for them, and you may be the sort who is careful (e.g remembers to switch the iron off, or lock the door when leaving the house, etc) which is a good characteristic to have.

3) Practise the A, B, C, D, E Disputation method - This is something I came across which is just a simple logical way of approaching negative thoughts:
- Pay attention to Adverse experiences that spark pessimism or negative thoughts.
- Record negative Beliefs that crop up and their Consequences.
- Dispute them and feel Energised.

4) Actively practise positive thinking. - I think this one can help everyone with any situation in life and is the one I am trying to work hardest at. You can ask yourself "What do I have that is good in my life?" and "What have I acheived?". This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with practising gratitude, which seems to crop up in lots of places, including that so very popular 'Law of Attraction' method.

5) Use your experiences with others to fuel your positivity rather than bring it down - I would say that working in a nursing home is a highly commendable thing to do. The fact that seeing the elderly and sick people made you feel sad shows you have compassion. That is a great personality trait. I have not actually been exposed to that sort of stuff much myself, except a few months ago, when I went to visit someone who suffers from motor neurone disease for research for a project. The man was completely paralysed, unable to move a muscle except for his eyes and eyebrows. Before I went, I knew he was suffering from the disease, but didn't know what stage he was at, so it was still quite a shock for me. His mind worked perfectly fine, so he was literally locked in his own body. It was really sad to see that, but it did actually help motivate me and gave me the drive to try and do better in the project. Perhaps you could find a way to use your strong emotions to help others. I think it also helped me practise gratitude, seeing that and realising I am so fortunate to be able to move, to speak or even just scratch an itch!

6) Accept negative emotions - The last thing to say is perhaps just to accept that everyone experiences negative emotions and negative thoughts sometimes, though to varying degrees. A thought is just a thought. It cannot do anything unless you allow it to control your emotions and dwell on it enough to elevate your anxiety. Trying to suppress the thoughts may actually make things worse, so it is better to learn to deal with them and then dispel them.

I hope some of those may help you. I know how difficult negative thoughts can be. It is an internal battle that we must constantly struggle with...
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