Have you ever watched a scary movie where you covered your eyes, hid under a blanket, or buried your face in your partner’s shoulder?
If you are skeptical that your thoughts trigger anxiety, take this concept for a spin.
Have you ever felt scared during a movie? Did your heart start pounding? Could you feel your adrenaline kick in? Did you feel as if you were in danger?
That is your amygdala responding to perceived danger, which was ignited from your thoughts about the scary movie. Your amygdala can’t tell whether you’re watching a scary movie or living out the real scene. All it knows is that your thoughts are thinking “danger,” “scary,” or “holy hell lady, RUN!”
While you are watching the scary movie, your amygdala is watching your thoughts, ready to respond to any danger that comes your way. The whole time, you were never actually in danger, yet you felt as if you were. Anxiety is the same way!
Why is this important to know? Chronic anxiety symptoms are often similar to the symptoms that arise when watching a scary movie. Even though you’re not in real danger, your cortex (thoughts) tricks your amygdala (fight/flight) into believing that it is and you get scared. All your mind needs is a scary picture (whether real or imagined) to feel afraid.
I challenge you to sit with your anxiety the same way you’d sit through a scary movie. Feel the symptoms and know that they will end. Remember, the more you ride through the waves of anxiety, the more tedious it’ll become.