When anxiety shows up, I know that it’s going to do everything it can to hold me back.
That’s the point of fear, after all - it likes to keep us tucked safely away in our comfort zone.
But what if I want to do something new and exciting, like speaking in front of a large audience, going live on Facebook for the first time, or trying out scuba diving?
Something that scares me but stretches me.
I now know that whenever anxiety shows up, certain key beliefs are at play. After all, how you think determines how you feel. This is why optimists experience less stress and more happiness.
Here are 4 things your anxiety is trying to tell you.
1. I don’t feel capable
Anxiety shows up when you believe that you aren’t capable of meeting the demands of a situation or bringing about the sort of outcome you want.
Will people even find what I have to say interesting? What if I stumble over my words or say something stupid? Do I really have what it takes?
The good news is that once I know this belief is present, I can challenge it by asking myself, “Is is really true that I don’t have what it takes?” or even better, “What skills and strengths do I bring to this situation? What makes me capable of doing this?”
2. I don’t feel in control
If there’s one thing anxiety loves, it’s control.
If there’s one thing it hates, it’s the unknown.
So if the thing you really want to do is kind of risky, if you can’t guarantee you won’t get hurt, anxiety is bound to show up. Especially if this is something you’ve never done before.
When I tried scuba diving for the first time, I felt absolutely terrified. My mind was racing with all the possible things that could go wrong: for one, what if I couldn’t breathe?
It really helped to shift my focus away from what I couldn’t control, towards what I could. I reminded myself that there were a number of experienced divers with me whose specific job was keeping us safe. I could focus on taking it step by step, on following instructions, and by communicating if I ever felt I needed help.
But feeling out of control happens in many different everyday situations, too.