Nineteen tips to handle paranoia

OK, so if paranoia’s not a thing for you, then this piece will not be of any help in your life. Feel free to pass right on.

But if like me, paranoia is very real and pretty much ever-present lurking beneath the surface, then maybe these tips will be relevant. In my world, I think paranoia has become a learnt behaviour. A default behaviour.

Note that I don’t say ‘avoid paranoia’. In my experience, paranoia cannot be avoided. It creeps up on you when you least expect it.

When I walk into a room, I assume everyone’s hearts will sink when they see me. When I meet someone for the first time, I assume that person will be disappointed. When I spend time with someone, I assume they will be bored and wanting it to be over as soon as possible. I assume most people think I am a failure and not particularly likeable.

Now I have had a fair amount of evidence to the contrary over the years (and I’m really not fishing for compliments, honestly!) and only a little evidence to actually back up this mindset, but paranoia prevails nevertheless. And so I have developed some techniques that are beginning to work to some degree. Let me share them with you.

  1. Enjoy yourself. By that, I mean find ways to enjoy being you. Enjoy being with you. Take time to get to know yourself. Find stuff you feel good doing and do that.
  2. Give equal weight to the positive and the negative. So don’t listen to every bit of criticism and believe that and then find ways to minimise or discount any praise.
  3. Explore all the different ways of reading that comment. So yes, your natural response will be to think the worst, but take time to read the comment in different tones of voice and with different phrasing and expression. You now actually have no idea what the person was trying to say with any certainty, do you?
  4. Remember it’s not all about you. When I read a Facebook comment about someone being upset, I assume it’s about me. Always. I always think I’ve said something or done something. And you know what? It isn’t always about me. In fact, it rarely is. I am not the centre of the universe. The happiness of everyone in the world does not revolve around me.
  5. Smile. Be kind. If you send out the right vibes, then you can change the whole atmosphere in a room. People find it hard to dislike someone who is a genuinely cheerful and considerate person.
  6. Be interested in the other person. It takes the focus of your mind off you. People want to be listened to. To have the opportunity to tell their story. Although don’t pry. That’s not good. But the more you get to know someone, the more you’ll realise they suffer from insecurities too. No one actually believes they are perfect.
  7. Try new things. Trying something new is such a confidence builder. Even if you’re no good at it. Just having a go takes courage and courage is a good thing.
  8. Lower your standards. Let good enough be good enough. You know what – you don’t have to be the best at everything. Or even anything.
  9. Care less. Some people’s opinions really don’t matter. Work out the people that matter to you and listen to them (bearing in mind they won’t always be right either).
  10. Celebrate being you. You are unique. You are the only one who brings what you do in the way that you do.
  11. Never try to be more like someone else. What a total waste of energy. Be you.
  12. If there are some things you really don’t like about yourself, then set about changing them. For yourself. Not for anyone else. Just do it. Don’t just talk about it.
  13. Let yourself be human. Make mistakes. Get it wrong. Be less than perfect.
  14. Learn to laugh at yourself. Not in a cruel way obviously. But sometimes when we mess up, there is a funny side. Find it.
  15. Get out of your head. Lift your eyes. Be reminded of your place in the universe.
  16. Get rid of the negative voices in your world. Stop listening to the people who make you feel crap about yourself. If you can’t ‘defriend’ them for whatever reason, then find a way to distance yourself from their opinions. Their opinions are not serving you.
  17. Try to see if there is any actual truth in what is being said. Acknowledge it. Learn from it. Move on.
  18. Accept and celebrate others as they are, rather than as you would like them to be. Be that person who doesn’t criticise or talk about other people behind their backs.
  19. Accept that life is messy and chaotic. If there are only 19 points, then don’t make something up to get it to a round twenty.

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