ANTICIPATION IS A KILLER: How to fight the fear of anxiety
Anticipation is a killer. That’s what my young client told me. He said he was scared to use the phone, drive, meet new people, go grocery shopping, and absolutely forget about being in the mall.
When I told him that is not completely unusual his rosy checks turned into shock. “What?”, he said. “I’m not weird!?”
“No”, I told him. Actually, quite a few people tell me they feel uncomfortable and awkward being in public. There’s something about feeling like you’re on display that makes you feel self-conscious. Yes, even uncomfortable walking up the road or stepping into a café, forget about eating in a restaurant.
You might feel uncomfortable because you’re embarrassed, or you don’t want to look stupid, or made a fool of. Or perhaps you have high expectations of yourself. Way higher than anyone else would ever have of you. And, higher standards for yourself than you would ever have of someone else.
If you get caught up in your head and any of these negative thoughts start rolling around ~ you are very likely to engage in Safety Behaviours.
Safety Behaviours are just that, behaviours that you do to keep yourself feeling safe.
Common safety behaviours are, not calling or answering the phone when you’re not expecting a phone call. Refusing to go grocery shopping unless you have someone close with you. Opting not to drive because you feel nervous or worried.
When you avoid the things that make you feel uncomfortable, by extension you feel “safe”. Safe from the behaviour that makes you feel exposed or vulnerable.
The downside of safety behaviours is, they stop you from trying things that you’re fully capable of. By holding you from trying new or worrisome things, you never have the opportunity to learn, experience, or see how successful you can actually be.
Most people tell me, that once they try the behaviour, such as going to a small get together or showing up for a job interview, they’re OK. It’s not the actual behaviour itself, it’s the anticipation that’s the killer.
Anticipation includes a lot of what if’ing, fortune telling, and mind-reading. Anticipation is about being completely absorbed in thoughts ~ and not happy, positive, optimistic thoughts. Not even neutral or mundane thoughts.
Anticipation is about being caught up in negative, fearful thoughts, and worry. It can include minimizing the enjoyment or pleasure and over generalizing the fear. It can include catastrophizing or emotional filtering ~ assuming that since you are scared, the entire situation must be scary.
So how in the, H-E- Double Hockey Sticks (H-E-LL) do you get out of your head? Go into your body.
Notice where in your body you are feeling tension, tightness, anxiety, or some other body sensation.
Notice what that sensation feels like – tight, heavy, dark, solid, swirling, pounding, clenching.
Put your hand on that spot and allow it to be there.
Notice your feet on the floor ~ Exhale.
Feeling your heals sinking into the floor ~ Exhale.
Feeling each toe sinking into the floor ~ Exhale.
Feeling the out edges of your feet sinking into the floor ~ Exhale.
Feeling your arches sinking into the floor ~ Exhale.
As you feel each part of your feet sinking into the floor ~ release your breath ~ feel your body letting go ~ allow everything to settle and drain into your feet ~ into the floor.
Tell me, how do you feel? Better? It might not be perfect, and that is ok. Better is better than nothing.
Give it a try and let me know how this works for you.
If you’d like support to practice this strategy and learn more ways to beat anxiety and panic, call or book your appointment today.