Anxiety Series: Signal or Noise?
Jonathan couldn’t sleep all night, due to the fact that he was worried he forgot to pay the electric bill.
Lucy couldn’t sleep all night, because she was worried she wasn’t getting enough work done on the current big project in her company, despite her long workdays.
One of these worries is actually a helpful worry. Can you figure out which one? Can you relate to your worrying keeping you up, causing sleepless nights?
This is one of the topics that Reid Wilson, PhD discusses in his recently published book Stopping the Noise in Your Head: The New Way to Overcome Anxiety & Worry.
Dr. Wilson brings up a method to figure out if your worry, your anxiety, is helpful in your life or if it’s hurtful.
Just ask yourself, “does this worry, this anxious thought…….does it help me solve a problem? Does it lead me to a constructive answer which improves my life?”
If Jonathan’s thought leads to him checking on paying his bill, and paying it if he didn’t………then it’s constructive for him. This worry, this anxiety has actually helped him be functional.
Dr. Wilson calls these thoughts “Signals”.
These signals help us solve problems in our lives.
When Lucy asked herself if her worried thought was solvable……well, she had to admit that she just couldn’t work 24/7. She did need to go home to be with her family, to eat, to sleep. And she was putting many, many hours into working on this project. A few more hours at work wasn’t going to get her to the finish line any faster.
This thought, this worry, only managed to take her into a rabbit hole of feeling horrible. It led her to feel she could never work enough on this project, which really wasn’t true.
Dr. Wilson calls these thoughts “Noise”.
Noise is a thought that make us feel bad, & is hurtful to us. These are thoughts in which we need to learn to ignore the content of.
More coming on what Dr. Wilson teaches us about handling these noisy thoughts. In the meantime, try looking at your worries, and see which ones of them are constructive in helping you accomplish what you need to in your life, and which ones are noisy distractions, upsetting you.
Reid Wilson, PhD
Stopping the Noise In Your Head