If you struggle with anxiety, then you know what it’s like to have to deal with inaccurate self-beliefs. Those negative thoughts about ourselves or situations around us are not just a drag, but also affect how we perceive ourselves. However, there are ways to cope with these beliefs and to change our inner narrative.

Dealing with Inaccurate Self-Beliefs #1: Identifying the Trigger

When you begin to have those inaccurate self-beliefs, does it seem as if your thinking speeds up? Your thoughts begin to cascade, one after the other, until you are caught up, spinning in a negative thinking cycle that overwhelms you. This is caused by whatever triggers your anxiety, such as:

  • Thinking that an object is unclean or contanminated (like a doorknob).
  • Believing that your safety is at risk (as with a fear of flying).
  • Being afraid to leave your home because of a perceived danger.
  • Feeling trapped and needing to escape crowds of people.
  • Assuming that others (classmates, co-workers, etc.) are judging you.

The first step in dealing with inaccurate self-beliefs is identifying those beliefs. Take a hard, objective look at these thoughts when you are calm to get a real sense of what’s going on.

Dealing with Inaccurate Self-Beliefs #2: Slow Down

The next step in this process is to slow down. These inaccurate self-beliefs derail your mind Anxiety triggersquickly with a cascade of thoughts. Choose the following instead:

  • Use mindfulness skills to relax, refocus, and stay calm.
  • Step away from the trigger by removing yourself from the situation.
  • Walk or do some other physical activity to refocus expend the energy.

Slowing down before your brain spirals out of control allows you to address your inaccurate self-beliefs with more clarity.

Dealing with Inaccurate Self-Beliefs #3: Question Your Beliefs

That sounds really hard to do, but you can ask yourself some simple questions. For example:

  • Why am I thinking/feeling this way?
  • Am I really in danger or at risk from the trigger?
  • How will my thinking affect me (inconveniencing, stress, etc.)?
  • What is something different that I can do?

It’s important to note that it’s easier to go through this process when you are experiencing lower levels of anxiety. That’s why step #2 is so important as it lays the groundwork for step #3.

Dealing with Inaccurate Self-Beliefs #4: Give Yourself Reminders

If you are feeling calm and focused, take a moment to jot down positive reminders.  For example:

  • Remember that you are a capable person.
  • Remind yourself that you are loved and cared for by others.
  • Recall your previous successes in life (name a few examples).
  • Remain encouraged by the idea that this anxiety will pass.
  • Remember that inaccurate self-beliefs don’t define you as a person.

This way, when you do begin to experience anxiety and negative self-beliefs, you already have reminders on hand. They will keep you grounded and prevent your thinking from spiraling out of control.

Dealing with Inaccurate Self-Beliefs #5: Get Some Validation

Validation goes a long way towards addressing the negative thinking associated with inaccurate self-beliefs. You might seek validation in the following way:

  • Talking with a trusted friend or family member.
  • Joining a self-help or discussion group that deals with anxiety.
  • Activity in organizations or groups where you know you are accepted.
  • Talking with a counselor or therapist who will help put things in perspective and keep you grounded.

Inaccurate self-beliefs can have a profound effect on how we perceive ourselves. Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way! By following these simple steps and working with a therapist who understands anxiety, you can change that negative, inaccurate inner narrative into one that is positive and affirming.  You can do this!