Why An Anxious Mind Can Make You Vulnerable to Suggestibility
Posted Nov 15 2009 10:01pm
Have you ever wondered why you become so afraid when you have an anxious thought? It could be a thought about a potential panic attack, fear of embarrassing yourself, fear of going crazy or if you’re in a depressive mode perhaps fear of hurting yourself or someone else. Most times you might yell internally and pronounce to yourself that you would never take action on that nasty thought. So why all the associated fear? In a word, suggestibility.
Like a hypnotherapist, anxiety has the ability to manipulate your emotions and your thought processes. But as we all know hypnosis is largely based on a persons willingness to accept direction and suggestion. We can choose to not succumb by understanding how anxiety makes powerful suggestions to us and how we can accept them for what they are and not extrapolate any additional meaning or fear thereby reducing the influence that anxiety has over us.
Anxiety has the ability to alter our thinking because when a person is under tremendous emotional stress for prolonged periods of time the ideas and repetitive thoughts that dance in their head can become more potent - more possible. Anxious thinking is not just an exercise in the abstract realms of reality but rather a real life fear that you may possibly fall over the edge this time around. The suggestions made by an anxious mind can become vivid and imminent.
To be suggestible, at least in regard to anxiety, means that you are more likely to believe that the ‘crazy’ thoughts you’ve been having will come to pass. Your thoughts, no matter how outrageous, seem to become more plausible and therefore more frightening. Anxious thinking can make you feel vulnerable to all of your greatest fears.
Anxious people tend to believe their anxious thoughts because anxious thoughts are powerful. Anxious thinking is an intense process that is beset with catastrophe preparedness. Anxious people spend much of their time focused on danger, both external and internal, and develop elaborate outcomes to perceived dangers and related contingency plans to avert harm. With all this planning there develops a complex web of scenarios that evoke fear. When these thoughts are stored and ultimately triggered they not only cause feelings of anxiety but they also serve to imprint the subconscious mind and therein lies the problem.
Once imprinted with this complex connection of fearful thoughts, these thoughts have the capacity to arise at random times. An anxious thought then can arise when you’re not even anxious, which causes anxiety, and makes you vulnerable or suggestible to all or nothing thinking about possible disasters that could befall you. Let me give you an example of how this works. When you watch television your bound to see hundreds, perhaps thousands, of ads for this or that product. Now have you ever seen a commercial several times and started to remember the song, joke, or certain aspects of a particular product? Chances are some of those commercials stuck and at some point in the future you might start wanting that thing you saw on television weeks ago. It could have been chocolate, a burger, some jeans or whatever but I think you see the point.
Overtime, with enough exposure, things start to settle onto your unconscious mind so that they give rise to automatic thoughts and desires. Anxiety works in much the same way. Anxiety then can make you suggestible to thoughts and images that you normally would not have or at least do not want.
In summary then, anxiety is a feeling. It is an intense emotion connected to stress. Overtime constant exposure to feelings of anxiety and stress can make anxiety turn into ‘bad thoughts’ via the connections you have made between anxious thoughts and their potential for disastrous outcomes to your health or mind.
These thought connections imprint themselves on your subconscious mind and in turn become automatic and sticky like glue. This being the case I hope you can see your negative automatic thoughts (suggestions) for what they really are and understand that your preoccupation with danger is just a result of natural processes and not some other unexplained phenomena. This is no mystery, you’re an organism with preprogrammed reactions to stress that will cause dysfunction and pathology if not attended to - no magic here.
When you are struck by a bout of anxious thinking or catastrophic ‘what if’ scenarios then this is when you must tell yourself the following: I am anxious, stressed, and experiencing intense emotions that are incredibly uncomfortable. I am not losing my mind or developing something worse. I am suggestible to fear and the thoughts produced by fear but I am not crazy nor shall I go crazy. Period.
The psychology of what brings us to this point can get somewhat complicated. But let’s not focus on that for now. Again, the focus should be on realization and analysis of anxiety for what it is and not what we imagine it to be. It is a struggle I know but it will not be the death of you or your dreams. Its OK to be anxious as it can often be out of your control, outside of your influence. What we are left with then is the influence we can wield over our reaction to anxiety, stress, and anxious thinking. You can influence your reaction and therefore your fear of anxiety.
You see fear and anxiety are not the same thing. And even if anxiety continues to run in the background as it were by seeing anxiety and its manifestations as a natural process, based on reactions to stress, then I think you can start to get a real handle on your fear of ‘the process’. Because ultimately it is the fear reaction to anxiety that gives rise to all the problems we wish would go away.