Wise questions are in many cases more powerful than statements because the mind usually starts to fight against new beliefs. Questions on the other hand have a greater chance to penetrate deeper into the mind.

1. Is there any evidence for this thought?
Most of our fears are irrational since they usually come from a distorted cognition. An effective strategy in that case is to confront our thought of fear or anxiety with a rational response – a counter argument. For instance: “I won’t be able to handle that.”“Nonsense, I have handled very similar situations in the past with no problem.”

2. What if everything works out even better than expected?
We are often so used to entertain the worst case scenarios (also known as catastrophizing). Our imagination is amazing when it comes to recreating fictional scenes of the future. An untrained mind is designed to protect us from danger even if no real danger exists. So a good strategy in this example is to train the mind by imagining again and again the best case scenarios instead.

3. What would my best/higher self do?
Neale Donald Walsch said: “Every decision you make is not a decision about what to do. It is a decision about who you are.” That is a really powerful thought because it takes the power away from the situation and gives it to us. Try to imagine a version of yourself who has no anxiety and no fear. How does that version think and speak? How is he or she behaving in a certain situation?

4. What would I say to a friend or a child in the same situation?
We often find we can be so wise, empathic and/or encouraging to someone else but not to ourselves. What if we would give ourselves the same love we are giving to someone else? Try to imagine a child (perhaps yourself as a child) who comes to you with a similar fear or anxiety you are having. What would you say to comfort them? Would you hold him or her and stay with him or her until the heavy feelings pass?

5. Am I able to make space for the feelings that are here now?
When we feel something uncomfortable we usually try to repress, ignore or escape from it which usually works in the short term. But such mechanisms can have devastating consequences in the long term. What if we would instead turn towards whatever is here and try to be present with it? Making space for the heavy or unpleasant emotions also is an important sign of emotional maturity.

6. What do I have in my life right now to be grateful for?
Gratitude is one of the best antidotes for anxiety because it immediately shifts our perspective from worrying about the future to appreciating the present. Remember that what you now have in your life were some of the things you once wished or worried if they would happen. No matter how much you worried in the past it was all for nothing because you have so much to show for in the present.

These questions and exercises are not something we think about or do just once. If we truly want to retrain our minds to work for us instead of against us we have to return to them and ponder them again and again.

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