Paranoia is something that I deal with a lot. I can remember as a kid being scared that someone was going to take me away from my parents or steal my wallet while I was walking down the street. It's scary to even type these words, but admitting them out loud gives them less power. And that's what I want to talk about here: paranoia wants to make you feel afraid. Don't let it win. Maybe you can't entirely get rid of being paranoid, but you can manage it and start to feel better. Here are some concrete ways to stop paranoia from "winning" in a contest between it and your mind.
Hold the thought up to reality
There are paranoid thoughts and then there is the reality of a situation. Try this: take out a piece of paper and pen number it 1-3. As scary as it feels, without thinking too much about it, write down your paranoid thought under number one. Then on number two write down the reality of the situation. What evidence do you have that the thought in number one is true? You can use some tools called cognitive distortions from Cognitive Behavior Therapy to help you determine the validity of your thought if you need to. On number three compare the two thoughts. What is the likelihood of your paranoid thought happening or being true? Seeing it on paper will help you determine this.
Say your paranoid thought out loud
In the privacy of your own home, say the paranoid thought out loud. In your head the thought has a lot of power. You can extinguish the amount of power that it has once you say it to yourself. Don't let that thought run the show. Once you say it out loud, talk back to the thought. Tell it what the real truth of the situation is rather than the paranoid spin on things.
Tell the thought to a trusted friend
Paranoia wants to silence you. It wants you to feel small or like there is something "wrong with you." Your friend will be able to hear your thought and offer up an alternative perspective. Sometimes we can't see outside our distorted way of thinking until another person gives us their feedback. For me, talking to a friend helps me feel less alone in my paranoia. The best thing you can do with a paranoid thought is to remove it from your mind somehow and talking to a friend is an excellent way to do this. I find that it allows me the chance to unload my overwhelming thoughts and begin to transform them into more positive ones.
It's NOT about you
When experiencing paranoia you may truly people that another person is making fun of you, upset with you or doesn't like you. The reality is, people are more wrapped up in their own issues than yours; it is not about you. And get this? The worst case scenario is this: the person is upset with you or making fun of you. That isn't about you either! They are operating from their own perspective and they have feelings based on their own past life experiences. You didn't "make them" feel a certain way. Try not to take it personally, and remember that everyone has their own issues that they are dealing with. You can't "know" what's going on in someone else's mind.
Everyone has insecurities and fears and sometimes these issues manifest as paranoid thoughts. The next time you find yourself feeling paranoid try these techniques to kick paranoia to the curb. See which one(s) work best for you!