I suffer from anxiety.
To varying degrees, I think we all do or have…
“Don’t believe every worried thought you have. Worried thoughts are notoriously inaccurate”
Those moments, when your mind freaks out, you worry, you stress and your behaviours signal distress – sometimes about big things, sometimes about small things and sometimes about anything.
If you suffer from anxiety, especially if it is affecting the quality of your life, then it might be appropriate to seek professional help. Anxiety can be very serious and debilitating to those who suffer with it – so if that sounds like you, get help. There is no shame in helping yourself become the best version of you!
If you are not at that stage yet, but you would like some advice, then read on… I offer this advice to you as a friend and as a fellow sufferer of anxiety, who has found great benefit from the following:
I ask myself better questions…
Our brains are amazing, wonderful, creative and powerful things. Our brains decide on our behaviours, approach and attitude and what I have found is that if you ask your brain a question, it will figure out a way to answer it.
So when we are feeling a specific way (let’s say anxious) our internal dialogue will have a narrative that confirms those emotions.
We can change our internal dialogue by asking our brains better questions… so we get better answers and more helpful, supportive emotions.
I have 2 strategies I would recommend:
In basic terms this means focusing your mind on an assumption of a positive outcome – ask yourself
“What would I have to do to be a strong, capable and confident person in this situation?”
Give yourself time to answer – don’t expect a musical instantly. You have to allow your mind to focus on the positive aspects of the question and then work out an answer…. and your mind WILL work out an answer!
In completing this process you will have re-framed your entire focus onto a positive set of behaviours and emotions. Your anxiety will fade under the weight of these new ideas and concepts you have opened up in your mind.
Identify and Reality Check
The first step is Identify – What this means is you have to question why you feel the way you do.
In my experience of anxiety, I normally feel that way for one of the following:
Worry I will lose something – that a poor performance or result will dramatically impact my future in a negative manner. So lose my credibility, job, reputation, bonus… the list is endless!
A worry that I am just not good enough – That people won’t like me or think I am capable.
A fear of anxiety itself – Sometimes I would get anxious because I was fearful that I would get anxious – which resulted in a never-ending circle of anxiety.
Once I have Identified, then I can Reality Check – which involves asking better questions, such as:
“Are these things true?” (eg will a poor result actually result in my entire life being ruined forever?)
“What would I do if I knew I was as clever, smart and capable as everyone else?” (this question can be adapted to each identification, e.g. … if I knew this result didn’t matter? This is another way to positive re-frame)
“What one small thing can I do that will improve myself by 1% today?” (this allows you to take smaller more manageable steps and provides much needed momentum, motivation and confidence)
When I share this advice with people I get two different types of reactions, spit 50-50 – those that love the concept and jump in or a more reserved reaction with the odd suspicious look – “It can’t be that simple can it?” or “That can’t work surely?” are often uttered by those more sceptical individuals.
If you fall into the latter, I get it…it is perfectly understandable to think this. The great news is it doesn’t matter if you believe or not – what does matter is that you try it.
You see no matter if you believe me or not, the fact remains your brain is awesome and it will come up with an answer to the questions you give it. So by asking better questions, you will get better answers and this will improve you.
Please remember anxiety can be very serious, if this is the case please seek professional help. My advice is based on my personal experience and is offered as a friend, but if your anxiety is hurting the quality of your life, then get help – It can be soothed, you can overcome it and there is no point living with something that does not serve you.