When we have negative experiences associated with certain events we tend to avoid those experiences moving forward. I think that’s a totally normal reaction because of course you don’t want to keep having bad experiences.
However, what can end up happening is that you limit yourself in the future. You avoid things that will help you grow and develop as a person.
Let’s say growing up you had a bad experience with public speaking. You didn’t feel confident, stumbled over your words, forgot what you wanted you say and ended up feeling really embarrassed. Based on that experience you decided that you’d never do public speaking again. You now associate it with feeling uncomfortable and you don’t think it’s something you could ever be good at so you actively avoid it.
It’s gotten to the point that now just the thought of speaking in public is enough to fill you with anxiety.
A whole decade could have passed by yet you’re still deeply impacted by the feelings associated with a past memory.
In this situation, I think the only way to overcome it is to do the thing that scares you. Of course it might not go swimmingly but being embarrassed or forgetting your words isn’t the worst possible thing that could happen you . It’s not good but it could be so much worse. I think changing the way you think about a situation not turning out perfectly is so important.
Focus on just being able to do it and get through it without all the extra pressure of being perfect. Try, try and try again even if it means feeling a bit uncomfortable and being a little awkward.
In time, you go from associating public speaking with being fear and embarrassment to it being a way to express yourself.
Doing this allows you to eventually rewrite the memory associated with that experience.
Many people feel a lot of anxiety when it comes to making decisions.
I’ve written quite a few posts about the anxiety that can be felt around making decisions, choosing pathways and picking between different options.
One of my beliefs when it comes to making decisions that I created a few years ago is that, either way things will turn out fine. It’s not a case of there being a good and bad option but instead choosing a path or experience.
That’s something I would say to anyone picking between two options but I also like to remind myself of that when I have to make choices.
There are some situations where it might seem like there is a clear good option, let’s say for example it is the choice to spend the day at home or have a day out in in a new city.
Your initial thought may be that staying home is boring and going out is the obvious choice. However, maybe when you stay home you end up doing a bunch of things that you’ve been putting off for weeks or months. You end up decluttering your space, tidying up and just refreshing your space so that feels a little more vibrant and a little more you.
Perhaps if you choose to go out, you’ll end up seeing some cool places, spend time with friends and eat some good food. So, either way you still have a good day.
The idea of things turning out fine no matter which option you choose came from the fact that making choices can often be difficult and I wanted to find a way to make it easier. My fear was always making the wrong decision and so I’ve worked to find a way to eliminate that and suddenly making around decisions isn’t as difficult as it used to be.
One of the triggers for anxiety is uncertainty.
It’s fair to say that uncertainty is a part of life. However, there are plenty of times in life where you can seek clarity to help fill in the gaps.
This can be done by asking more questions.
When would you like me to complete this?
What time do you want to meet?
How do you feel about this situation?
You don’t have to play the guessing game, you don’t have to wait for someone else to initiate the conversation and you don’t have to live life on someone else’s terms.
Asking questions might also make you feel anxious but maybe that bit of discomfort is worth it now if it means you won’t feel anxious later.
Every once in a while you may be forced to come out of your comfort zone.
The idea that what you resist persists is true, some things just can’t be avoided.
You’ve probably been resistant and stuck in your comfort zone because you’re scared, the uncertainty is overwhelming and you’ve become comfortable with what you know.
Sometimes those are good enough reasons to stick with what you know. You don’t need to force yourself to do things that you don’t want to do.
But maybe you feel like you’re holding yourself back or feel are unhappy with the limitations you have placed on yourself.
If that’s the case, embrace the new and get out of your comfort zone.
Of course things that are new and unfamiliar might feel uncomfortable to begin with but over time that feeling will reduce. And maybe in a few weeks, months or even a year those things that once felt uncomfortable will become part of your comfort zone (or at least much less uncomfortable).
Often in life the thing causing the most anxiety and frustration is not particularly important in the long term. If you were to assess it in the grand scheme of life and death you’ll probably find that it doesn’t matter as much as you think it does.
We tend to get swept up in how other people feel and what other people will think (in general but mainly towards us). We do this because we are eager to please, want to be liked and we convince ourselves that if we just try hard enough we can control what other people think and feel towards us.
But instead of getting swept up in other people, think about yourself. Have you even considered that what you feel and think is important too?
More to the point, maybe how you think and feel is actually the most important thing.
A lot of people regularly find themselves overwhelmed.
The possibilites in every area of life are growing more and more each day.
There was a point in time where what you ate was limited to what you could kill and what you could grow at that time of year.
On one hand having more choice gives us the possibility of a richer life with more freedom. And let’s not forget, the increase in choice is the result of innovation that has has resulted in more options than humans once thought was possible.
However, having more choice can also make things harder, having 100 options instead of 10 can end up causing unnecessary stress. This in turn can reduce your overall happiness.
I think the important thing to remember is that no matter how much or how little choice you have, there is always room for innovation.
But we can’t ignore the unhelpful side effects of increased choice and so the important thing to remember is that when you know what you want you’re less likely to be overwhelmed.
The idea of always saying the first thing that comes to mind is great in some ways. However, it doesn’t work well in every situation.
If you’re someone that excessively analyses everything you say before you say it, practicing to say what comes to mind could be a great way to combat your anxieties.
But if you’re someone that is quick to react and easily enraged, taking time before you speak could save you a lot of hassle.
It’s useful to look at certain aspects of yourself and think about what works well and what doesn’t. The result of that self-reflection might make you realise that you need to think more about what you say or think less.
Sometimes when there’s something you want to say the easiest way to bring it up is to wait for a ‘cue’.
My dictionary defines a cue as ‘An action or event that is a signal for somebody to do something’.
In this case the thing to do is bring up a topic that is difficult to speak about or difficult to for people to listen.
However, the problem with waiting for a cue is that sometimes other people will not consider your approach genuine. But furthermore, it stirs up the question of why you’re unable to bring the topic up on your own.
Why do you have to wait for a cue?
Perhaps because you’re not ready to admit how much the topic matters or maybe you just don’t dont have the confidence yet.
It might not be easy the first time but get used to talking about what matters, you don’t need to wait for a cue.
In the right environment pressure can be a really good thing. For example when you’re focused and working hard a couple days (or hours) before a deadline.
But that feeling isn’t something we should rely on to get things done or have in our life on a daily basis.
Although it can be helpful in the short-term, the long-term effects are best avoided.
Things like low energy, insomnia, chest pain, headaches and tense muscles can all come as a result of pressure.
But a little pressure here and there isn’t so bad if you know how to make use of it.
The feeling of regret is always uncomfortable, especially when you think that making a different choice would have led to a better life.
When you reach this conclusion, what do you do next?
Do you take charge, choose the other choice and commit to it in order to reach the outcome you believe is possible.
Or do you get swept up in the feeling of regret and allow your mind to go round and round in circles telling stories about how that single choice you made has ruined your life.
The other option is to stick with the decision you made and make the best of the path you’re on.
It can be difficult to decide but if you put less pressure on the decision you make, things start to feel a whole lot easier.
What also helps is knowing that whatever you pick, things will turn out totally fine.