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Do you struggle with worrying and have a behavior to relieve the emotion, but it no longer serves you? You may have developed a worry loop pattern that is now a habit.
You may be predisposed to anxiety or worry due to family genetics. (Have your parents or grandparents been diagnosed with a mental health issue?) Or maybe you have had multiple traumas in past that has impacted you managing your worries.
Our brains are wired to go to the negative.
You can’t change the triggers or the emotions that arise within you, but you can change your behavior.
You will need to engage the prefrontal cortex to learn a new behavior/new coping skill.
Example of a loop:
You feel nervous about an upcoming test or speech, so you bite my nails. You bite my nails to relieve the nervousness. You feel calm for a few seconds or minutes, have another thought about the upcoming event, bite your nails again, it relieves the feeling, and you do the behavior again until nail-biting becomes the habit when you feel nervous or anxious.
To interrupt the loop:
First, you have to notice the feeling (I.e. where in your body do you feel the emotion)
Second choose a different behavior to change the loop, such as squeeze a stress ball.
Another behavior option is using this mindfulness approach. Notice and observe your surroundings-what colors do you see, what sounds do you hear, what smells do you smell, what textures do you feel and what do you taste. All of this brings you into the present moment. The only moment you have is the present one.
As your practice interrupting your old worry feedback loop you may feel more discomfort at first. As you practice your new behavior, or where you place your focus, you are creating a new neurological pathway in your brain. The saying is what wires together fire together. You are changing that path and engaging the prefrontal cortex.
Having self-compassion for yourself as you change habits is vital. Give yourself a mental high five for taking this brave step in taking back control over your life. Whether you have to do that new behavior once or twenty times or more that day. You are taking the step in reclaiming your life.
As you practice new behavior you may notice your confidence begins to increase in believing you are capable of stopping the worrying.
No matter where you are right now with this loop in order to change it you need to take ACTION. Anxiety (or what I call self-doubt or fearful thoughts-fear gremlins) do not like when you take action. Practicing sitting meditation, walking meditation, exercising, journaling, all of those mindfulness behaviors are you taking action to change the feedback loop.
LMFT and CEO
Helping teen girls and women in overcoming anxiety and thriving again in their life. Because change is possible.