Experiencing anxiety is like butterflies in your stomach, except they’re all knotted up and you can feel asphyxiated, and sometimes feel short of breath. You just want it to end but it doesn’t go away that easy. Sometimes it happens because of a particular confrontation or situation that triggers us and sometimes it’s because our thoughts lead us down that path.
Anxiety often presents at it’s fullest when we become nervous or uneasy about a future situation that has an uncertain outcome.
Anxiety often presents at it’s fullest when we become nervous or uneasy about a future situation that has an uncertain outcome. You feel powerless and lacking in control. Maybe you have a big opportunity to land your dream job but first you have to get passed the interview or maybe you’re worried about confronting a friend you had a disagreement with. There’s situations all around us that can bring out our anxiety. We need to learn to be aware of them. We need to learn to accept our anxiety and not run or hide from it – because just like fear and sadness it’s a natural trait of human existence.
We need to learn to accept our anxiety and not run or hide from it
So once we’ve identified our anxiety and what we think is causing it, what do we do next?
Think for a while, in your own quiet place, find a blank page. Somewhere on the page, write down what is causing your anxiety (i.e. a future confrontation), I like to write it in the centre, much like a mind-map. On this mind-map there should be 3 sections:
- “What do I think will happen?” (both good and bad)
- “Why am I feeling these things will happen?”
- “Do the reasons for my feelings justify that what I think will happen is actually going to happen?”
Check out the example I’ve done below.
Follow the thought process similar to the one above. After completing your map you we realise two major things.
1. For every negative outcome there is always at least one positive outcome
2. A lot of the negative thoughts you had about yourself have effective solutions to solve them.
Then we are just left with one or two things that are left unsolved – but we can now focus on them. In the above example, “being awkward” was the main thing left. Whilst the individual didn’t have a way of solving it as of yet, they had relieved the burden of their other problems. And in all honesty being relaxed and feeling on top of your tasks and your worries is definitely going to help with awkward nervousness even if it doesn’t fully diminish it.
Have a browse around the image again – worrying about your skills is not a real thing because you would never have been interviewed in the first place if you weren’t skilled enough!
So, you can apply this process to any challenge you’re anxious about in the future and use it as a tool to keep you calm and focused on a few things rather than on everything at once.
I hope it helps! I’d love to hear your stories, both successful and not in the comments below.
~ A.M, 2018