According to Dr T.A. Richards, we can stop thoughts that lead to anxiety by consciously replacing them by more rational thoughts like the following:
When anxiety is near:
1. I’m going to be all right. My feelings are not always rational.
2. Anxiety is not dangerous — it’s just uncomfortable. I am fine; I’ll just continue with what I’m doing or find something more active to do.
3. Right now I have some feelings I don’t like. They are really just phantoms, however, because they are disappearing. I will be fine.
4. Right now I have feelings I don’t like. They will be over with soon and I’ll be fine. For now, I am going to focus on doing something else around me.
5. That picture (image) in my head is not a healthy or rational picture. Instead, I’m going to focus on something healthy like _________________________.
6. I’ve stopped my negative thoughts before and I’m going to do it again now. I am becoming better and better at deflecting these automatic negative thoughts.
7. So I feel a little anxiety now, SO WHAT? It’s not like it’s the first time. I am going to take some nice deep breaths and keep on going. This will help me continue to get better.”
When preparing for a stressful situation
1. I’ve done this before so I know I can do it again.
2. When this is over, I’ll be glad that I did it.
3. The feeling I have about this trip doesn’t make much sense. This anxiety is like a mirage in the desert. I’ll just continue to walk forward until I pass right through it.
4. This may seem hard now, but it will become easier and easier over time.
5. I think I have more control over these thoughts and feelings than I once imagined. I am very gently going to turn away from my old feelings and move in a new, better direction.
When feeling overwhelmed
1. I can be anxious and still focus on the task at hand. As I focus on the task, my anxiety will go down.
2. Anxiety is a old habit pattern that my body responds to. I am going to calmly and nicely change this old habit. I feel a little bit of peace, despite my anxiety, and this peace is going to grow and grow. As my peace and security grow, then anxiety and panic will shrink.
3. At first, my anxiety was powerful and scary, but as time goes by it doesn’t have the hold on me that I once thought it had. I am moving forward all the time.
4. I don’t need to fight my feelings. I realize that these feelings won’t be allowed to stay around very much longer. I just accept my new feelings of peace, contentment, security, and confidence.
5. All these things that are happening to me seem overwhelming. But I’ve caught myself this time and I refuse to focus on these things. Instead, I’m going to talk slowly to myself, focus away from my problem, and continue with what I have to do. In this way, my anxiety will have to shrink away.