Anxiety — What is it good for? Absolutely Nothin!
I am writing to myself as much as to you today. Because over the years I’ve noticed there’s a sneaky quality to my anxiety. Whenever I notice it sneaking up, I’ve developed certain ways of talking to myself, to rouse the courage to challenge this self-defeating attitude. Here are my Top 5 Tips for dealing with anxiety and fear of failure:
#1. Anxiety is a luxury.
Not necessarily a material luxury, because obviously you can be poor and anxious. You may not realize it, but we have to have an attitude of luxury about our time, even to be able to “do anxiety.” I have to feel I can afford to spend time on my hobby of anxious thinking. Because let’s face it: anxious thinking and worry take up time and energy.
Somewhere deep down, I must have decided that my most heartfelt goals can wait. How do I know this? Because I always seem to have the luxury of wasting my intelligence and energy — anxiously worrying, spinning inside a “poor me” hamster wheel. I’m just spinning away, spending time. But is it a luxury I can afford?
#2. Anxiety + Fear of Failure Fantasies = Procrastination.
It starts like this: I’m about to begin to address some issue — a project, a goal, a resolution. But then I have a thought: “What’s going to happen, if I start focusing my energy in some productive way to meet this challenge?” I might fail in never-before-dreamed-of ways! Onto the wheel I hop, and the spinning begins. My heartfelt goal? Oh, it can wait.Anxiety often masquerades as procrastination. We avoid taking action on our goals and choose to obsess in anxious thinking — because it delays the possibility of making a mistake. We meet up with a fear of failure, and we freeze. Instead of taking action, we make a withdrawal from our luxurious bank account of extra time and energy, and we spend it putting off making our best effort. We think we’re avoiding failure, but . . .
#3. What’s failure got to do with it? Absolutely nothin!
Have you ever been in a fight? If so, you know that whatever anxiety you had about the fight disappears once you’re actually engaged in the act of fighting. If you are attacked, fighting back is an appropriate course of ACTION, and you plan and make course corrections moment by moment. You act and make adjustments according to the results you get. You don’t freeze and obsessively think about, “What if I do this…what if I do that…what if…oh, my god!” (If you stop to do that, you’ll get clobbered!)
#4. When Anxious — ACT NOW.
The main remedy for my anxiety is to start taking action . . . Now! Of course, I can only take action Now (when else would I do it?). But I have to remind myself of Now, because I so easily fantasize taking action in the future. “I’ll do it as soon as . . . .” The problem is, the future never becomes now and now is the only time I can act!
You can’t be anxious now, if you are focused on this moment – you can only act and make course corrections in the subsequent moments of now as they arise. You can only be anxious if you are focused on the past and future, bouncing back and forth fearfully concerned about “poor me.”
#5. Don’t Try. Just Do. (Thanks, Yoda and Nike.)
In my Transpersonal Hypnotherapy trainings, one of the first points we cover is how to talk to your subconscious mind to get that mind to ACT in your best interests:
“The suggestion is stated in the present tense. You must recognize that the “subconscious” mind lives in the now. The mind that is able to cause change lives in the now, and changes things in the now. Everything is happening now; therefore you do things now, you don’t “try” to do things.” (Finding True Magic, p. 16)
“Trying” to do things is delaying doing things. And delaying means putting things off to the future. It means I’m acting as if I have the luxury of spending time as if I have forever. And as we NOW know . . . the future never comes!
I don’t beat myself up when I forget my own Top 5 Tips. I just keep ACTING. I practice making my best choice and best effort Now, moment by moment. You and I have what it takes to turn our minds in a positive direction. We can meet any challenge that has caught our attention, unconcerned with how we may be judged by others (Success or failure, fool or hero — it doesn’t matter. I’m the one who decides to stop spinning. I choose to move forward. Fear is a luxury I can’t afford, and Anxiety, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!
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