Can anxiety make you believe things that aren’t true?

This blog post will answer the questions: can anxiety make you believe things that aren’t true? What are some of the main features of the beliefs experienced due to anxiety? Some commonly reported believes that one has while experiencing anxiety which might be untrue, What are the ways to tackle anxiety-related beliefs that aren’t true?

Can anxiety make you believe things that aren’t true?

Anxiety can make individuals believe things that aren’t true causing significant distress. These beliefs can range from mild to severe.

Now, these beliefs can be both positive and negative in nature for instance one might believe that they might be very close to winning a lottery while in the negative case they might think that sitting in a car will lead to an accident.

Every human may have thoughts or believes that are discomforting and unusual, that does not make a lot of sense. This is normal. Studies have indicated that about 100% of the general population has disturbing and intrusive thoughts, ideas, and imagery.

These irrational beliefs are not always about the individual who is having it but can also be about someone else who is closely related to them.

What are the main features of the beliefs experienced due to anxiety?

Focusing on the negative

Individuals carry out something called as filtering where they filter out everything good and positive and tend to focus only on the negative and the bad.

 

Should

Individuals experiencing anxiety believe that they have set ways about how they must act and go about things. This might lead to a lack of control over time. The inability to have control over oneself and the surroundings may in turn lead to increased emotions of anxiety.

Tendency to overgeneralize

People experiencing anxiety believe that bad things are going to last forever, and this is how things will continue from now on. They tend to use words like “never” and “always”.

A pattern of all or none thinking

Sometimes also called as black or white thinking where individuals believe in extreme situations. In that, it’s either all very good to be real or it’s very bad to be acceptable.

Catastrophic thinking

People experiencing anxiety always believe that the worst is to happen. These usually include beliefs of “what if”.

Emotional reasoning

Some individuals are considered to be more emotional than others by nature. Such people tend to take a more emotional than a practical approach to life and important decisions. This involves believing things based on their emotional responses. These can increase negative feelings and anxiety.

Some commonly reported believes that one has while experiencing anxiety which might be untrue:

I’m a burden to my family and friends

One of the most common beliefs that one might have well-experienced during anxiety is that they feel that they are a burden to their family and friends as a result of which they start to isolate themselves from their immediate and close social contacts.

Am a failure in life

Another common belief that one might experience while experiencing anxiety is that they feel they are of no use and will not succeed with anything in their life. They restart to count on all the negatives in their life and overlook the positives that have happened to them.

What if someone attacks me?

Individuals experiencing anxiety might also have a belief that someone is trying to harm them. In extreme cases, they might start to become suspicious about even those who are very close to them and whom they have trusted for a very long time.

The world is coming to an end

Individuals experiencing anxiety might also feel that it’s the end of the world, and that time is running out.

 

Everyone hates me

Individuals experiencing anxiety might also feel that everyone has turned against them and does not like their company anymore. These thoughts can follow from simple and insignificant events such as lack of greetings by a known person while passing by.

Ways to tackle anxiety-related believes that isn’t true:

Notice and challenge your beliefs

The best way to control one’s negative or unusual believes is to talk to themself. When one indulges in self-talk about their beliefs and thoughts that they are experiencing it is easier for them to reflect upon it and judge it based on its rationality.

Weight out your beliefs

The next possible step one can do is to weigh out their beliefs in terms of it being rational and helpful or irrational and unhelpful. Find evidence that goes for and against the respective beliefs.

Actively challenge your unrealistic beliefs

Going further an individual must try and actively replace their unrealistic beliefs with a more realistic ones. This can be done by maintaining a journal where an individual writes their thoughts and beliefs. Later reflecting on it and evaluate how they can challenge the unhealthy beliefs.

Practice self-awareness and mindfulness

Practicing detachment from oneself and their beliefs thoughts and emotions while viewing it as an observer helps in giving it another dimension of self-awareness.

Can cognitive restructuring help challenge your thoughts?

Actively challenging one’s negative believes while experiencing anxiety might be a difficult task. One can however try and use cognitive restructuring in order to help with this process.

Cognitive restructuring requires the following steps:

Self-reflecting on unrealistic beliefs.

  • Revisiting similar situations that have taken place in the past and examining if the believes are on course with what took place.
  • Consciously challenging the belief and looking for alternate explanations.
  • Weighing the pros and cons of dwelling on a particular belief.
  • Evaluating if one’s beliefs are a result of a cognitive distortion.
  • Considering how you would help a close one with a similar belief.

You don’t want to set yourself up for failure by replacing the thought with something that may not be realistic. A helpful technique could be to ask yourself what you would say to a friend in this situation.

— RACHEL GOLDMAN, PHD

Conclusion

Over the period of time, it has become definite that there is no quick fix or cure for anxiety and the feelings and beliefs that follow with it. Experiencing anxiety and related beliefs can be very overwhelming over time causing significant distress and impairment in an individual’s life and daily functioning.

Negative beliefs or thoughts can also lead to problems such as low self-esteem and depression. A useful way of changing one’s negative beliefs is to understand one’s own thought process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

 Can anxiety cause unrealistic thoughts?

The emotions associated with anxiety usually lead to irrational thinking in individuals. These irrational thoughts further affect an individual’s behavior where they tend to avoid or escape a particular situation.

Why do I have thoughts that aren’t true?

Irrational thoughts and beliefs can usually occur as a result of anxiety, or other mental health conditions such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

How do I stop thinking about things that aren’t true?

A few methods that an individual can adopt in order to stop their irrational thinking are:

  • Distract oneself by doing something challenging and physical. This can also include things that require a lot of attention or things that an individual usually enjoys as a hobby.
  • Try and talk about your irrational thoughts with someone that you feel close to. Sometimes the irrational thoughts that one holds within themselves need to be shared with the other person to feel better. It also helps in getting a different perspective on the same
  • Practicing mindfulness and being in the present also helps in pushing away irrational thoughts this can also be done by carrying out meditation or yoga.

Can your mind play tricks on you?

An individual’s mind is very complex and there are various ways that it can trick you into believing things that aren’t true or that are nonexistent. Individuals experiencing anxiety or who have been through trauma are more likely to be tricked by their minds as the brain becomes highly aware of all the potential situations and the dangers that these situations can pose.

Can one convince themselves of something that’s not true?

Self-deception is more subjective than objective it is the process that depends on rationalizing or denying the related evidence and possible arguments.

Citation

https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uf9897

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