31 Mar Worried About Being Anxious?
A common theme amongst coaching clients I’ve worked with over the years is an experience of anxiety. In this article we take a closer look at anxiety, how it arises and how to free yourself from it.
Do you ever struggle with anxiety? Do you worry about things that haven’t even happened yet? Do imagine worst case scenario situations that could happen sometime in the future, but often don’t?
One Thing Often Overlooked About Anxiety
There are many strategies available to deal with anxiety, but one thing that is often not seen or acknowledged is that anxiety is a skill.
What do I mean by that?
To do anxiety you need a vivid and creative imagination that enables you to think about a future event and envision all sorts of worrying outcomes that could potentially occur.
The emotion that usually arises when imagining these potential worrying outcomes is fear.
But here’s the thing – the fear is not about something that’s actually happening or has happened. It’s fear about something made-up in your mind that might happen sometime in the future – which means it also might not happen.
Another thing to notice about anxiety is that it’s a thinking, contrary to most people’s understanding. Anxiety is a thinking which is consequently followed by a feeling. Understanding this allows us to address the real cause.
How Anxiety Occurs
To do anxiety you have to think about a future event and in the theatre of your mind, imagine a range of worst-case-scenarios that could happen, and in addition, imagine you don’t have the external resources to respond or the internal capacity to deal with those imaginary challenges.
People in this fearful state often look to develop contingency plans for how they might deal with all the worst-case-scenarios they’ve imagined and can feel an urgency to come up with solutions for all possible outcomes because their fear seem so real.
What they forget is that the fear they’re experiencing is based on something fictional. It’s made up!
Let me clarify something here. Fear in the moment is not made up. If something is happening in the moment that’s a potential risk to your survival, like finding a funnel web spider crawling up your leg right now, that might be a good reason to feel the primary state of fear.
But if it’s anxiety, the event is not happening here and now, it’s only happening in the theatre of your mind.
The positive intent of doing anxiety, of imagining a variety of worrying outcomes, is usually to avoid potential danger.
Thinking about potential obstacles and pitfalls can be a healthy response to some situations. Part of the beauty of the human brain is that our pre-frontal cortex enables us to think ahead, make plans and avoid potential pitfalls based on past experiences. Being able to imagine worst case scenario outcomes if you are a risk advisor for example is a brilliant skill.
However if we habitually run a strategy of imagining worst case scenario in the future regardless of the circumstance, then we can create anxiety and exhaustion for ourselves.
The key is to use your brain in a way that serves you.
A Useful Question
Next time you experience anxiety a great question you can ask yourself is ‘Is this struggle I’m experiencing a construct of my imagination? And if it is in my imagination – is it actually helping me to effectively deal with the current circumstance?’
This question invites you to quality check your thinking process and ensures you don’t overthink things and create problems that don’t exist. It allows you to make sure you’re using your capacity to think effectively, and not creating emotional turmoil for yourself.
Work With Us
If you’d like to explore these ideas further and start unleashing your full potential, click here to book in for a 30 minute free Discovery Coaching Session now.
Written by Soo Balbi
Soo is a behavioural expert and one of Australia’s leading Developmental Coaches who helps women in tech thrive. Soo assists her clients to cut to the heart of any challenge, enabling choices and possibilities previously unavailable.