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Anxious About Opinions

Question:

Hello,

I’m 24 and living in Europe. I have been diagnosed with anxiety and hypochondria, and the latter pretty much under control now. But one thing bothering me still is that I’m really sensitive when it comes to others’ opinions. It’s almost like I don’t let people think differently. Even when I don’t agree with someone really hard, it bugs me for quite a time and doesn’t let me get really involved in anything else since there is ALWAYS someone for or opposed to something and I’m not able to simply read, disagree and move on, but obsess over something someone wrote, fearing it might be true, even when knowing it’s not. I’m pretty confident that it comes from my anxiety. So, my question is, are there any tools which I can use to become more confident about my opinions and less obsessed with other’s?

I hope my English isn’t that hard to understand.

Thank you.

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Answer:

Your English is fine and easy to understand. Perhaps your doubt about your English is an example of your anxiety?

First, your concern about the opinion that others have reflects the fact that you truly do experience obsessive-compulsive symptoms. In other words, your thinking about someone’s opinion might be that, “if that is their opinion I must be wrong.” That is followed by obsessive or repeated thoughts about the issue.

Obsessing results from lots of anxiety. I suspect that you feel that others must have the same opinion as you do so that your anxiety stays at a minimum. Conflicting opinions stir self doubt, anxiety and obsessional thinking. In a way, other people must agree with you so that you will not feel wrong. In your mind you must convince them of how you are right and that is what you repeatedly think about. This is the nature of obsessional thinking.

One of the effective ways to reduce anxiety and it’s companion obsessional thinking is to think about something else, something really pleasant. In fact, you can take yourself on an imaginative journey in which you are doing something you wish for or highly value. That fantasy journey is of a type or nature that is completely up to you. See it in your mind, experience it in all of your senses. The point is that it’s impossible to think of something painful while you imagine something positive.

As part of this I want to encourage you to learn and practice mediation. It is proven to have calming effects and actually helps rewire the brain so that we learn to settle our agitation into calmness. There are many books and websites that teach meditation. Learn about it and how to use it on a daily basis.

Best of Luck

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