Thoughts aren’t facts.
The first time I realized this was a huge "ah-hah" moment for me. It’s not like I hadn’t heard or read this before, but like many people, I need to hear or see something about a million times before I truly “get it.” Do you blindly trust all the thoughts that come your way when you're in an anxious state? I know I did. Some particularly “sticky” ones for me were “You’re weak for letting anxiety get to you this way” or “You’re never going to truly overcome anxiety” or my personal favorite “You probably have this (fill in the blank) medical condition.”
Why do we blindly trust and engage these anxious and insecure thoughts? Because, as humans, we experience something called... emotion. When we have an anxious thought like “What if I panic during the next work meeting?”, it’s quickly followed by a surge of fear. That intense emotion makes the preceding thought look and feel true. We forget that our emotions aren’t necessarily a reflection of the way things are; they’re a reflection of our thinking. That fact is why we react with fear to scary movies - am I the only one who can't watch an apocalyptic zombie movie without sweating? Despite the fact that the movie isn't real, our mind and body still react as though it were, simply because that's where our thinking is focused.
So, next time you feel caught up in a storm of anxious thought, you don't need to change or judge or hate your thoughts, or yourself for that matter. Remember that those thoughts are just a scary movie - a movie that will change on it's own the less involved we get in the story.