Are You Paranoid?

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Paranoid? Probably. But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t an invisible demon about to eat your face.

  • Jim Butcher

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Paranoia – the nagging feeling that everyone around you despises you; is out to “get” you or is conspiring to kill you (I exaggerate for effect), when there may not, in fact, be anything like that happening in reality. When a person suffers from paranoia, he essentially misinterprets people’s actions as purposefully demeaning, hurtful or intimidating. While on the one hand, it is absolutely normal for a person to be slightly suspicious in certain situations in personal relationships and in the workplace, people who possess a paranoid personality, on the other hand, take it to a completely different, rather extreme level. People with this disorder tend to try and seek a sort of control over the people around them, often having a tough time maintaining interpersonal relationships.

People who suffer from paranoid personality disorder may not even realize that there is a problem because they become used to it and it becomes a way of life. For them to think that any and everybody intends on cause them harm may not even be abnormal. However, if not noticed and taken care of in time, paranoia can take grave forms of mental illness, one such form being schizophrenia.

A lot of psychologists, after having conducted several investigations in people’s subconscious minds, have come to the conclusion that traumatic situations and emotionally challenging events during early childhood in a person’s life may result in perpetual distrust and negativity towards others; while, also, there being no one particular reason for this disorder. People who suffer from paranoid personality disorder often build walls as a kind of defense mechanism to keep people far, far away. The irony however is that it is as good as impossible to diagnose the symptoms of this disorder during early childhood for the simple reason that a child is in perpetual state of growth and development and undergoes constant changes in his personality during the time. That being said, they find it awfully difficult to get along with others and confide in them, often being labeled as ‘anti-social elements’. It has been observed that the effects of this disorder reduces over time, as one becomes older.

Paranoia is toxic and does not only affect your mental well-being, but also severely affects the people around you and your relationships with them. Constant suspicion, over-thinking, imagining things are not really there are the early symptoms of paranoia. If you find yourself going to extremes in almost every situation, irrespective of whether, or not, it demands you to react like that, you must know there is a problem. And if you try hard enough to counsel yourself, you may even get out of it.

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How to avoid getting Paranoid?

  • Firstly and most importantly at that, do not simply assume that you’re paranoid. Give yourself some time to weigh the positives and the negatives and then do your due diligence.
  • Don’t let your mind trick you into believing things that do not exist. Are you always wondering if people are talking behind your back? Do you always find ways and means to get your hands on your boyfriend or husband’s phone to see if they’re cheating on you? Do you always feel like the people around you don’t like you or are out to harm you? These thoughts or worse, on a regular basis, could mean that you do suffer from paranoia. One of the most important steps to rip it off from its roots is to acknowledge its presence and not live in denial.
  • Stop all substance abuse right away! Be it drugs, alcohol or even just caffeine – you need to stop getting high with them because these substances make you hyper-ventilate, I mean literally. And when you are in that state of mind you are bound to begin looking for reasons to hit the ceiling about. Get off them – they were never of any help and they never will be.
  • Keep a track of your thoughts and figure out their frequency. How often do you think negative? Is it all day? Is it only when it comes to certain situations? Recognize your thoughts and try to look for patterns.
  • Look up what paranoid personality disorder is all about and get as much information as you can. Check for common symptoms but do not deliberately delude yourself into believing that you are paranoid without sufficient information. Keep a tab on the extent and the gravity of the type of negative thoughts you are having.
  • Take up a hobby and find ways and means to channelize your energy in doing something productive. Get involved in activities that require team-work and socializing a little and give them the benefit of doubt, voluntarily. Try to monitor your behavior when you’re around these people.
  • Make a conscious effort to realize when you’re having paranoid or negative thoughts. Take the decision to get rid of or at least work on your insecurities and think positive as much as you can. Do not obsess over small things and make an effort to quit over thinking. If it helps you, you could even give yourself a half hour everyday to jot down your paranoid thoughts in a journal and go over them. Start accepting things for what they are and not what you’re imagining them to be. Part of the process of getting rid of your paranoid thoughts requires you to start taking things at face value.
  • Learn to meditate so that every time you have paranoid thoughts, you can take out five minutes from whatever it is that you’re doing and breathe a little. Listen to some happy music and forget about your worries. Eat right, sleep tight and exercise. Concentrate on making yourself a better person instead of working yourself up about other people or things.
  • Just because you are paranoid does not, in any way, insinuate that you’re insane so you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Knowing the problem, recognizing its gravity and taking an initiative towards working on it takes courage and strength. You should only be proud.