“Paranoia is a persecutory delusion. It’s the belief that someone or a group of people are attempting to harm you in some manner, physically, emotionally or mentally,” according to Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW.
Paranoia is not always a negative thing. For what it’s worth, it sometimes makes sense!
Sometimes when we are crossing the street, it’s just but a good thing to be vigilant of that man in black leather jacket looking at us meanly. A healthy measure of paranoia makes us plan, “What if this man suddenly attacks me,” or “what if he just grabs my bag and runs away.” Sometimes, there are situations where our paranoid thinking saves us from attacks by strangers.
Healthy Paranoid Thinking
A mother’s paranoia, what she calls instinct when it comes to her children, is all about caring. There are times when our mothers don’t want us to go anywhere because of the fear that something might happen. There are times when we just ignore them, and more often something does indeed happen. And the only word we can say is, “If only I listened to her.” There’s nothing wrong with listening to the voice inside us telling us, “No, not now,” be careful.” Often, our guts tell us something is not right.
A businessman’s paranoia serves as his guide on whom to trust or not regarding his business ventures. It makes him aware of the threat of his rivals and makes him think of ways to innovate his business. Paranoia makes him more competitive and cautious. It is a businessman’s way of protecting his endeavors.
A strict teacher’s paranoia keeps her vigilant of her students cheating during the exam. She always reminds her students that there will be punishment if they get caught, so they have to study thoroughly. Warnings like this sometimes encourage kids to work harder so as not to suffer the consequences once they are caught cheating.
A board-certified Peer Specialist named Chato Stewart has a personal (and professional) experience with paranoia or as he puts it, being ‘intuitive’ – “I believe paranoia can be laden with reality, based on our own intuition, experiences, and perceptions of the real/actual world. Although, it’s my belief that it needs to be in small doses. If we take it to the extreme, that’s when trouble is bound to find us when we lose all touch with reality.”
Enough Is Good, Too Much Is Deadly
A healthy dose of paranoia benefits you. It doesn’t mean you have to lock up your kids in the house just to keep them safe. It’s about teaching them techniques on how they can keep themselves safe on the street and how to surround themselves with good and trusted friends. It’s not for a businessperson to keep his ideas all to himself. It’s about choosing whom he has the confidence to share his insights. It’s not about a teacher threatening his students when caught cheating. It’s about encouraging them to study harder and not to cheat.
It’s about being aware of your paranoia. Keep it at a healthy level. Use it to guard you, your possessions, and others to help them stay honest and work hard and learn to take care of themselves.
Healthy paranoia can avoid life’s “what ifs” and “if only.” Let it work to your advantage when it allows your brain to work overtime with clarity about things. It trains you to be prepared not in a negative way but looking forward with optimism.
Paranoia can also be a poison that can destroy you, so always be cautious. Keep it healthy and working in your favor.
However, when you think your paranoia is getting out of control, maybe it’s time that you ask a professional. Visit BetterHelp before it destroys you and others around you. “One of the most common components of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy (CBT) is identifying and answering irrational thoughts. Once you can label and dissect an irrational thought, you take away some of its power,” according to Sherrie Mcgregor, Ph.D.
With BetterHelp, you will get the assistance that you need. And with paranoia that is intense or extreme, it is necessary to get that help. Don’t worry. Sessions are done online and in a very discreet manner.