Take Action to Change Your Anxious Feelings
Everyone gets anxious from time to time. You may be about to give a speech to a large crowd. There are two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning in the baseball game, and if you strike out, your team loses. You are walking down a dicey street at night, alone. These are all legitimate reasons for feeling anxious, but there are ways to control anxiety so that you don’t get so anxious and flub up what could have been an easy experience.
There are many things that can trigger anxious feelings, and many ways you can react to them that will determine the outcome of their effect. You can even cause anxiety triggers for yourself. Here are a few of them:
- Seeing things in black and white — as in, if you aren’t perfect, you’re a failure — which can immediately make you anxious.
- Thinking in general terms — if you don’t get what you were trying for once, that means you’ll never get anything you try for.
- Concentrating on all of the things that could go wrong in a situation without taking into account all of the positive things that could happen.
- Making negative decisions about events with no evidence. Perhaps you’re going for a job interview, and the minute you meet the interviewer, you decide that she hates you and that you’ll never get the job.
- Always imagining what the worst-case scenario of a situation can be, and then expecting it to happen. This is another instance where you are making decisions based on no evidence.
Questioning Your Anxious Thoughts
The best way to defeat those anxiety triggers is to question them. Put them to the test. Questions you might ask yourself when the jitters start to bubble up are:
- How likely is it that the worst will happen?
- Can I point to any evidence that my thoughts are true?
- Can I face my fear and just dive in, given the risk that something bad will happen is very low?
Being able to give yourself positive answers to questions like these will likely help you to calm down and prepare yourself for a good experience.
You Can Change Your Anxiety
Don’t try to ignore your anxious feelings, thinking they will just go away. Try to look at them from an outsider’s point of view. What would you say to a friend who is anxious about something? You would never be judgmental or agree with their anxious point of view, so why judge yourself? Chances are, what you might say to that person would apply well to your own anxiety.
Focus on the present. Distract yourself from anxious thoughts by concentrating on your breathing, what you are wearing, your great new haircut or any other random thoughts that are going through your mind at the moment.
Push yourself beyond your comfort zone, perhaps in a situation where the stakes aren’t too high. When you realize that you won’t be criticized for your opinions, or that someone wants to help you, not mock you, when you don’t understand how to do something, you will become less anxious and more self-confident, and it will begin to show.