Conquer Anticipatory Anxiety
Control is something that those with anxiety struggle to maintain to ease feelings of fear. If you’re like me, you want to know who is going to be at an event, how many people, and where the exit or in my case, the escape route is.
Dealing with social anxiety is very real and scary for those of us who have it. The fear of no control, forced interaction with others, and judgement from others is overwhelming.
For me any perceived loss of control can bring on extreme anxiety for me. I have missed countless weddings and family events due to my anxiety.
Common “self-talk” I would engage in:
• What if I say something stupid?
• What if they can see me shaking?
• What if I fall?
• What if people know I’m anxious?
These are all negative things that our anxiety tells us. It’s “self-talk” that will doom you to failure if you think about any of them constantly.
After many events passed, I began to tell my doctor it was impossible for me to make plans with anyone. He told me that I suffer from anticipatory anxiety.
He gave me an unconventional technique that I practice in my mind when a large event or family function is near.
This may sound counterproductive, but to begin attending events you must act or trick your mind into thinking you’re not going. It sounds strange, but it works! This simple “mind trick” will take all pressure and perceived anxiety off your shoulders.
When my doctor first gave me this advice I was as happy as a lark. I figured I didn’t have to attend any events anymore. But the opposite effect happened. I haven’t missed an event in over a year!
The largest events like Christmas or Thanksgiving I completely put out of my mind. In your mind, you have complete control if you want to go.
If you place a large amount of pressure on yourself you are bound to be worried. If you feel like a failure or a loser, as I always have when I couldn’t attend an event, negative “self-talk” began before the event was even posted on my calendar.
If you have an event coming up and you’re freaking out this unconventional way to tell yourself to calm down and get through this overwhelming fear truly works. It tricks you into staying calm for the time leading up to your event, thus eliminating anticipatory anxiety.
The old me would have just worried for days until the day of the event and then been paralyzed by fear from my anxiety. Now I don’t worry because I act as though I’m not going.
When the day of the wedding or baby shower arrives, I am completely relaxed and truly excited to go. I have found myself checking the time of the event now instead of the opposite old Kristine who knew exactly what time I was supposed to arrive.