It’s true — anything can happen at any time.
Mundane events can turn tragic at any moment. Go out for a walk; you can get mugged. Take a trip to the city; you’ll get lost. Attend an out-of-town wedding; your plane could crash. Try a new food; you’ll get sick. Speak up with friends; you’ll be ridiculed. Interview for a new job; you’ll be rejected. Listen to the news; you’ll hear stories that send chills up your spine. Gossip with your gloom-and-doom friends; you’ll hear more tragic stories of woe. Reflect on your own worst nightmare; you’ll become paralyzed with fear.
So how do you cope with living when you know all this?
A sprinkling of fairy dust helps. (“I’m living a charmed life; nothing bad will happen to me.”) A spoonful of distraction helps. (“Too much to do to think about that stuff now.”) An awareness of probability helps. (“Yes, bad stuff can happen to me but it probably won’t.”) A “here and now” attitude helps. (“I’ll worry about that tomorrow.”)
But what happens if all of this isn’t enough? What happens if you’re one of those unfortunate souls who can’t get it out of your mind that life is dangerous and you’re always vulnerable? If only this crippling anxiety could end. But how? How can you stop these thoughts from entering your mind?
If you’re an anxious person, you can’t. So, don’t aim for the impossible. Make your goal less extreme. Simply aim to lower the intensity of your anxiety so that you can recall how competent you really are. Instead of reflexively nay-saying, focus your attention on how best to approach a task so that your anxiety does not get out of hand.
Find a safe place to take a walk. Familiarize yourself with the section of the city that you want to visit.
Board that plane with a few Xanax in your pocket as you remind yourself how much you really want to be a witness to this wedding. Take a tiny taste of a new food to see if you like it. Prepare a retort to use if you’re ridiculed when you speak up. Enhance your interview skills by reading books on the subject, running through a simulated interview and perhaps hiring a tutor.
In short, increase your competency and watch your anxiety decrease.
Say yes to living free, no to living with dread. Don’t let your anxiety get the upper hand. Treat your worries like a misbehaving child who needs to be put in his place. (“Now, stay in your room till you can behave.”)
Sure, worries will visit you from time to time. But you won’t let them define you. You won’t extend an invitation to them to come and live with you. No, no, no. You’ll simply treat them for what they are — fearful thoughts that are impeding your life. Not a reality. Not a prediction. Not a prophecy. Not a forecast.
Change your mindset and most everything will feel less threatening. Do instead of worrying about doing and life will become more of an adventure, less of a burden. Will this happen overnight? No. But can it happen over time? Absolutely. Will you then be anxiety-free? No. But as you let go of your fears, your life will become less restricted, less constricted and a lot more juicy.
If an anxious lifestyle is squeezing the excitement, the fun and the juiciness out of your life, don’t give up on yourself. My book, “Master Your Fears: How to Triumph Over Your Worries and Get on With Your Life” is dedicated to teaching you how to live a less fearful life. The book is available at Amazon. Or for an autographed copy, contact me directly at www.PsychWisdom.com or email me DrSapadin at aol.com.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Aug 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Sapadin, L. (2013). Anything can Happen at Any Time. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 27, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/08/09/anything-can-happen-at-any-time/