Help For Hypochondria

An Inquiry: I have developed a fear of heart attacks, blood clots, strokes, and aneurysms. It’s to the point where I will convince myself that any slight sensation is being caused by one of the above health problems (usually stroke or heart attack)… I’m almost constantly in a state of irrational panic because of this…

How We Would Respond: In the wild, when an animal turns and runs from a potential predator the predator nearly always gives chase. You are turning away from your fear thoughts and they are pursuing you in response. I acknowledge the thoughts that you’re having are quite unnerving but if you stopped and looked at them — if you observed these thoughts of illness that you’re having without accepting a judgment about their truth or falseness, if you simply considered them impartially — they would lose their charge and would impact you far less than they are now.

Impartially observing thinking, sitting with our thoughts if you want to think of it in this way, is a very effective way of reducing the charge thinking carries; thoughts that previously caused a significant response in us have much less effect, and even no effect at all.