How to stop questioning yourself
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. Albert Einstein
When we live through a traumatic event we generally find ourselves coming out with a million questions that whir around our brains like a broken record. The same questions come up over and over again – depending on the trauma and the scale of how bad it was, you could literally feel as though you’re driving yourself crazy. This constant questioning that can become like an obsession is a form of hyper self-analysis.
By questioning ourselves after a traumatic event we are looking at ways we can take responsibility for our situation. We question ourselves, making ourselves accountable as a way to avoid blaming anyone else and keeping us in control. This is healthy. But when the questioning become obsessive and continuous, and starts adding to our anxiety, this is where it becomes a problem. It’s important to know when to stop.
The types of questions we ask ourselves following a traumatic event can be narrowed down to: What is wrong with me? What else could I have done? What is going to happen? How will I get out of this? This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can stop questioning yourself so you can start living a more fulfilling life that enables you to let go of the past.
Realise there is nothing wrong with you
Let’s get something straight right now – there is nothing wrong with you. In fact, most of the time when we are questioning ourselves on things, there is nothing wrong with us, instead our constant questioning of ourselves can be a direct result of someone deliberately hurting us and our self-esteem. Be confident that there is nothing wrong with you – it’s the first step in moving forward.
Understand that continually questioning yourself feeds anxiety
Stop and ask yourself what the benefits are in continuing to question yourself and going over what has already happened. It’s likely you’ll quickly decide there are no benefits to the questions and if anything, they may more likely just lead you to have more questions. So drop it! Make a conscious effort to stop yourself from going over it because it’s only adding to your torture.
Accept the past – it is what it is
There’s nothing we can do about the past. It’s done. No matter how traumatic the event that has happened to us, there is nothing we can do to go back and change it – no matter how much we wish we could. This is why it’s so important to live in the moment and never to hurt someone you love – because you can never go back. Just like memories – nothing from the past can’t be altered. Make peace with it and leave it where it belongs.
Know that you did your best
Take comfort in knowing that you acted the best way you could, with the knowledge and skills you had at that time. Perhaps the traumatic event has given you a steep learning curve and you’re asking why you didn’t know before. Take the lesson, surround yourself with positive people who have your best interests at heart and continue to move forward with your new knowledge.
Watch your self-talk
The best advice I’ve been given for those moments where we constantly question ourselves over things is to watch your self-talk over the situation. We are constantly talking to ourselves, and it’s important to be mindful that we are also always listening. One tactic in being mindful of your questions is to talk to yourself (in your mind or out loud) as though you’re talking to your best friend or a child. By taking this approach you will quickly discover your attacking questions become more empathetic and your anxiety begins to ease.
Spend time growing your inner confidence
Instead of spending your time questioning yourself over and over about the past, spend your time looking for ways that you can grow your inner confidence so the situation doesn’t repeat itself. I have found some great clips on YouTube that assist with this including this one that I shared through my social media channels the other day where Justine Musk helps us find our deep yes.
Focus on self-love and self-nurturing
Focus on self-love and self-nurturing activities – you can find some tips in my previous blog: Discovering your self-love. Recognise all the things you have learned in your time, not just from this one event, and the strengths you have built on. Practice mindfulness and distract yourself from the questions by listing all the things you know you’re good at and how you make a positive difference to others. Concentrate on being in the present as much as possible to stop you from looking back.
Respect the answers you receive, accept the answers you don’t
As I mentioned, if you continue questioning yourself and seeking answers you will lead yourself to directly ask more questions and the answers seem to leave you more and more unfulfilled. Sometimes when you step back and wait long enough for things to play out, all your questions will be answered loud and clear. They may not be the answers you wanted, but at least you didn’t need to look for them. In the case that an answer never comes, that is something we need to accept – sometimes questions have no answers.
Avoid any self-criticism
Generally while we’re questioning ourselves we are also criticising ourselves for not behaving differently during an event or situation. Another way to look at this is to put doubt in the doubt or to simply question any self-criticism that comes up. Consider what message you are giving yourself behind the questions you are asking and whether that message is helpful or not. If you decide the question or thought isn’t helpful, don’t forget to thank it for coming – it’s only trying to protect us – and send it on its way. You may want to spend some time reading as opposed to asking questions.
Give yourself permission to put yourself first
Following a traumatic event the best thing we can do for ourselves is to quickly learn how to put yourself first and as you heal you’ll really start to do only the things you want to do. Give yourself permission to put yourself first. Stop worrying about the traumatic event or what others think. A great book that helped take the sting out of my situation, and was recommended to me, is called God on a Harley by Joan Brady – it’s a spiritual book about finding yourself. What you learn in this process is that all that matters in order to lead your best life is what you think and feel. You can find more Tips for your inner confidence by Christine Arylo.
Find the funniest way you can to express yourself
Relax. There is light at the end of the tunnel. It sounds clichéd but to every negative, there is a positive and, not to continue with the clichés but what doesn’t kill you definitely makes you stronger! When things are fresh and the traumatic event is serious it can be hard to see the positives let alone laugh. But when you reach the point that you’re ready to let go, learn from the situation and set yourself free – through laughter! Laugh at the situation. Laugh at the person who hurt you. Laugh at your actions. Laugh at whatever you can. Remember, if you can’t find a way to laugh at yourself, find someone else who can, or join a laughter therapy group in your area. It only takes one person to start laughing before you find yourself joining in and when you can laugh at a situation – you win!
We’ve all done it at one stage or other – how did you stop questioning yourself?
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