How To Stop Paranoia And Anxiety
By Nadia Khan
Updated December 07, 2018
Reviewer Christy B.
Fear and worry are natural emotions for all of us. They are a part of our survival traits. After all, if we don't fear something dangerous, we're much less likely to avoid it. Unfortunately, because human lives are more complex than the lives of other animals, we develop many more ideas to worry about. Living amongst other people is uncertain. We never know whether they mean us well or mean us harm. And for some, those uncertainties develop into paranoia, an overwhelming fear that people want to hurt you. With the right tools, however, you can learn how to stop paranoia and anxiety.
How to Stop Paranoia
The idea that someone is out to hurt you can take many forms. You may be paranoid that a partner or lover is going to leave you for someone else. Or you may constantly be worried that a stranger will attack you or break into your home if you let your guard down. You may be worried about someone else's safety altogether, for instance that your child's health is at risk. It is normal to have general concerns or worries, but when they get in the way of your daily functioning, it can become problematic. When you start to worry excessively about these things, you can take these steps to keep paranoia from taking over your life.
Recognize the "What-if" game
Many people play a game with their own minds. It can be called the "What if?" game. It's when you worry about a situation in the future, something that hasn't happened yet. And instead of visualizing yourself succeeding or having a positive outcome, you start to think about all the negative scenarios that could happen. Another word for this is catastrophizing, which means that you are basically playing out a worst case scenario in your head with no evidence that this will actually happen. You ask yourself, for instance, "What if this person thinks I'm stupid?" Or "What if someone laughs at my opinion?" But if you can at least recognize that you have a tendency to see the worst-case scenario, then you can be aware of when you are playing this game with yourself.
Practice Positive Visualizations
Choose a time when you are not experiencing anxiety or paranoia, and practice consciously putting positive images in your head. Start small, with a situation that does not typically cause you to worry. Play through the situation in your mind, imagining how well you accomplish each step.
Banish Self-conscious Thinking
If your paranoia is rooted in social anxiety and the worry that others will not accept you, then the best thing to do is just stop caring what others think. It sounds easier said than done, but you can never please everyone, and constantly guessing what someone else wants from you will leave you drained. Most of the assumptions that we have about what others think about us are due to our own insecurities rather than actual facts or evidence that someone doesn't like you. If you work on being happy with yourself, instead, you will likely stop projecting negative thoughts about yourself onto others. Worst case scenario, someone may not like you and you won't really care!
Paranoia and Anxiety
When paranoia is persistent, it often occurs concurrently with anxiety or other mental health problems. If your anxiety is interfering with your daily life, it's time to seek professional help so you don't allow your suspicious thoughts to take over your life. Although having some fears protects you from risks, letting those fears control you will also stop you from living your life. You can reach out to a licensed therapist to get help for more serious paranoia and anxiety.