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Ignore Anxiety--Pay Attention to What Anxiety Is Not

It's hard to ignore anxiety but sometimes the best way to reduce it is to pay attention to what anxiety is not. Learn how to ignore anxiety. Read this.
It’s no secret that anxiety is very difficult to ignore. Anxiety can be loud and demanding, and as a result, we focus on it. It’s very natural for us to do that, but sadly, focusing on anxiety can make it grow. We need to ignore anxiety by focusing on what anxiety is not.

Perhaps you've nurtured something: a child, a garden, a pet, a person, or other such living thing. Think for a moment about how you did that. When you wanted to encourage a certain behavior (politeness, growth, staying off of furniture, for example), what did you do? I’d venture a guess that you attended to it. You paid attention to the positive in order to help it grow.

Why Ignore Anxiety?

Anxiety tends to demand attention. It's hard to ignore anxiety but sometimes the best way to reduce it is to pay attention to something other than anxiety.

What about the less desirable behaviors? One of the best ways to extinguish negative behaviors is to safely ignore them. The image of an unhappy child, protesting an answer of “no” to some desire, comes to my mind. I recall gently leading a screaming toddler (my own, of course) out of a store without a coveted object in hand. He had about four tantrums in his entire life before realizing that the obnoxious behavior would get him nothing but ignored.

How Does Anxiety Disappear When It's Hard to Ignore?

Anxiety disorders are a bit like screaming toddlers. They have their own special type of tantrum, and they want attention. When nurtured, when attended to like children, plants, and pets, anxiety flourishes. When ignored, it withers. Tune in for more about this.

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APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2014, March 26). Ignore Anxiety--Pay Attention to What Anxiety Is Not, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, May 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/03/pay-attention-to-what-anxiety-isnt



Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, and Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps. She has also written five critically acclaimed, award-winning novels about life with mental health challenges. She delivers workshops for all ages and provides online and in-person mental health education for youth. She has shared information about creating a quality life on podcasts, summits, print and online interviews and articles, and at speaking events. Tanya is a Diplomate of the American Institution of Stress helping to educate others about stress and provide useful tools for handling it well in order to live a healthy and vibrant life. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Sheryl Gregg
April, 1 2014 at 6:46 pm

Visual. This has been the best lesson on ignoring anxiety. Ii can truly relate to the blue dot and white paper. Excellent demo of not focusing on the dot which is smaller. I am advanced enough in therapy to focus on the white to get rid of the blue dot. Focus on positive thoughts. Thank you for this demo lesson.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 1 2014 at 8:36 pm

Hi Sheryl,
Thank you so much for your feedback. I'm glad that you found the visual to be helpful. Personally, I find visuals to be helpful, and I thought that others might, too. Congratulations on being so far along in your therapy. It's rarely easy to get to the place you describe, but the hard work pays off and feels great. Be proud of yourself, and keep thinking positive thoughts and focusing on the white space!

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