We are not talking about the the whole “think globally, act locally” movement here. This is about the utter confusion and inability to sort out your thoughts when anxiety strikes. People who are prone to panic or anxiety attacks often tend to think globally. They have a hard time sifting through information and deciding what is relevant when they are in pain. It is as if they are being bombarded by conflicting emotions, most often led by fear of the future and what it holds for them.
They think in this manner so frequently that it creates a new neural pathway in their brain where they go in an instant, without even realizing what the thoughts were that led them there. That lack of realization is what makes it so difficult to dig out from under. You become stuck in fear of fear.
Thinking Globally or Black and White Thinking
If you find yourself saying things like, “My life is a total mess” or “Nothing I do is any good” or “I can’t deal with any of this” or “I will be alone forever,” then you are thinking globally. Another way to put it is thinking in very black and white terms, vs taking a more nuanced approach.
Often people do not know, when dealing with their anxiety, how to actually do something, like how to evaluate whether or not someone would make a good partner. They never learned that skill, and if they tend to think externally, they likely only dwell in the idea of thinking how good the other person makes them feel… in that moment. Often all they can utter is, “I don’t want to feel this way!”
Well, how do you want to feel?
When you consistently rely on others for your own approval, what happens when they vanish from your life? Or they voice disapproval of you? This can happen even when those that expressed disappointment in you are long deceased, and you hear their voice in your head, causing you to question your actions. It is so painful, and indicates you have not self differentiated very well at this point in your life.
Furthermore, if you are stuck in fear of fear itself, vs. employing the ability to evaluate the actual threat of a situation, how do you shake that? This is a thinking habit! And habits can be changed. It’s tough for those who experience this, and it can take them awhile to unlearn what is deeply embedded in their brains as a certain neurological path, and a seemingly logical way to think.
But the key word here is “unlearn”, because if you can learn it, you can unlearn it. It takes practice, and perhaps the coaching of a skilled professional if your fears are extreme. Learning how to effectively break down problems and solve them in doable steps is part of the process. Sometimes you have to walk right into the fears, and other times you find your success by approaching them gradually. But it is absolutely possible to come out of the other side with new skills and new realizations that you can sit with the fear, and exist along side it, shrinking and diminishing it as you progress.