How we view life depends upon the "glasses" we use to view it.
The human brain is an amazing organ. It is really a very sophisticated computer that is constantly sorting and analyzing data that is "uploaded" through the 5 senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Unlike a computer, the brain is always ON without any OFF button. Data is collected, patterns recognized, associations made, and interpreted with the prime directive of survival. The brain is always seeking something to do.
We are designed to instinctively recognize danger or any threat to our survival. It is not something that usually requires "thinking". For example, if we see a car coming down the road aimed directly at us as we are walking across the street, it does not require any detailed analysis to instinctively leap out of the way to safety. We innately have the ability to save ourselves from imminent danger as part of our hard-wiring.
When a "close call" like this occurs, the brain will remember the incident as we cross the street again, reminding us that this dangerous scenario might recur. If we give that thought our full attention and allow new thought to be generated around it (creating "what if" scenarios), our heart rate will increase, our breathing will become rapid, our pupils will dilate, and we will feel fear and panic at the very sight of any car coming down the street, whether is it coming dangerously close to us or not. The mere sight of an oncoming car can trigger a recall of this memory and put into motion this physiologic reaction.
This is how thought works in everyone. Feelings are a direct barometer of our thinking in any given moment. Feelings provide immediate feedback about our thoughts. If we are feeling frightened or panicked, our thoughts are filled with fear or panic in that moment. If we give those thoughts additional focus and attention, those feelings will grow as the thoughts grow, creating a vicious negative feedback loop in our brain. This is how habitual thought patterns are created and get us "stuck".
The brain cannot really discriminate between real or imagined danger with its physiological responses. Whether you merely think that you are in some sort of danger versus actually being in direct or imminent danger, the body will respond physiologically in the same way, with increased "fight or flight" or stress hormones (epinephrine, cortisol, norepinephrine, and others). If these thoughts become our chronic state, this overproduction of stress hormones leads to diabetes, weight gain, cancer, poor sleep, high blood pressure, mental illness, and many other health problems.
The way to let go of these habitual, toxic thoughts is firstly, to recognize that they are simply randomly generated thoughts that the brain has created, based upon past associations. If you indeed ARE under direct physical attack, you don't have to think... you will instinctively act first and think later. We are hard-wired to instinctively save ourselves from actual present and imminent physical attack (the fight or flight response). Everyone is designed with this instinct for self-preservation.
Once you recognize a fearful thought (or a feeling that is a clue as to what you are currently thinking), take a couple of deep breaths to slow you down, giving you space to assess the situation. If you are not in any real danger and cannot do anything at this very moment to change your situation, simply accept the situation as it is in this moment. As you do, the thought will pass. This is true for any given thought and associated feeling that arises in any given moment. If we accept what "is" at that moment, the brain will then move on to other randomly generated thoughts. The quiet space that you have just created by not giving into and reacting to any random negative thoughts, will allow you to access your mind (not your brain). Your mind is where you will gain insight from the innate source of wisdom within you, intuitively guiding you into what you need to do next.
This process allows you to recognize not only when toxic thoughts have begun, but permits them to pass on their own, without giving them further attention that can lead to even more toxic thoughts and scenarios.
In the midst of chaos of any type (real or imagined), recognizing your thoughts in the moment for what they are, helps you to avoid creating new, imaginary thoughts that take you further away from your innate wisdom.
We have all been walking along a beach, standing on a mountain top, sitting quietly on a hill overlooking rolling fields, or simply lying quietly in our bedroom listening to the pitter-patter of raindrops on the window, when we suddenly receive an insight or "aha" about what to do to resolve a problem; something that we have not thought of before. This insight never comes when our thoughts are busy over-analyzing what to do next, that so far has not revealed a simple solution through using our intellect alone. Your MIND can access ages of collective wisdom; wisdom that your BRAIN simply does not possess the ability to do.
INSIGHT can only be discovered when we are not thinking; when we are still. This is how we access the Universal Mind and the innate wisdom that resides within each of us. We all possess this amazing gift, yet we are often too busy within our thoughts to recognize that it is already there, patiently waiting for moments of stillness, that can allow it to come to the surface and lead us in the direction that we need to go.
While we do need our brain and intellect for practical matters in this life, the brain needs to remain your servant, not your master. As you conduct your life with wisdom, directing it from the inside-out, instead of creating superstitious thoughts that external circumstances are the cause of your thoughts and feelings, you will then be able to let go of habitual, toxic thoughts that are sabotaging your life.
While you cannot control circumstances around you (most of the time), you have complete control of your thoughts and feelings about them. Accepting what IS at any given moment, allows you more effectively deal with any situation without creating negative emotions and thoughts about it. This allows you to remain in a peaceful calm, where you can access inner wisdom. Operating in a state of calm, you can choose whether to withdraw yourself, change the situation directly with an appropriate response, or accept what IS without any further action. In a state of calm, your innate wisdom will guide you as to which choice is best in any given situation.
This is living life from the inside out, which is the only way that life really works. We are designed to function very well in reality. We are not designed to function in an imaginary world that only exists in our brain, created by toxic thoughts. Living life from the outside-in, as if circumstances have any power to rule our life or our thinking, is always a state of illusion. These illusions can destroy our happiness, relationships, place us in isolation, and keep us from our inner wisdom.