Do you spend a lot of time worrying about “what if” instead of enjoying the moment of “what is” right now? This is what happens when we worry about being hurt by other people if we get too close to them. It is also what happens when we fear something dangerous might occur, in the future, to us or someone we care about.
The emotional result of living in the “what if’s” is often anxiety and panic. I have worked with individuals who worry that they will have a car accident, choke on food, be publicly humiliated, or that someone will enter their house and hurt them or their family members. The list of possible “what if’s” could go on and on…
This worry prevents people from enjoying life in the moment. They are unable to go to parties or attend weddings and they avoid certain foods and even check doors repeatedly every night before going to sleep (if they are able to go to sleep). Their fear robs them of self-confidence and security. In order to cope, they avoid any potentially uncomfortable, painful situation.
Often these “what if’s” situations come into our lives because of traumatic events in the past. Maybe we did get sick from expired milk and threw up in the cafeteria in front of all our friends. Perhaps we did have a tragic car accident that resulted in a terrible loss! Perhaps we have had our home invaded or someone assault us. While there may be many realities to our anxieties, we don’t have to let them continue to control our lives.
We can become worry warriors and fear fighters!
The secret to making this change is to understand the true nature of emotions. Anxiety is an emotion as is anger or excitement or happiness. All emotions are “energy in motion” or e-motions.
The word “motion”, in Latin, means “to move” as in “it’s time to move out” on a trip or journey. It also means “to excite” or take action.
Additionally, e-motions are temporary. They come without warning and they will leave just as quickly, if we let them. They will stay longer if we complicate their “movement” by holding on to them with our beliefs about ourselves and the world. If our experiences are negative and our beliefs follow with more negativity, then our e-motions stop their normal movement and become frozen in our psyches.
Typical negative beliefs that can result in anxiety include:
I am a failure.
I have to be perfect.
I should have done something.
I am not good enough.
I am not safe.
I am stupid.
I am bad.
I am not lovable.
I can’t bear the pain of _____.
I am not in control.
I am weak.
I am fake.
I am ugly.
It is my fault.
There may be more but that is enough to make you feel anxious! Imagine what it must be like to live with those negative beliefs all the time. Underneath all of those negative beliefs is the idea that they cannot change and we are destined to suffer under them forever. That is not true. You can fight back!
I’ll be honest. The fight can be hard but the prize (YOU) is worth it. This the only way to deal with anxiety. You can’t continue to avoid it and hope it goes away and you can fight it directly.
That’s right, you are NOT fighting anxiety head on. You are fighting your beliefs about anxiety and how you view yourself/your world. That is what keeps it frozen and stops it natural movement away from us. Another problem with fighting anxiety is that people try to measure success based on whether they FEEL anxious or not instead of whether they are able to LIVE productively or not. You will always feel anxious from time to time. It is a natural e-motion that wants to move on. Focusing on living life is a much better measuring stick.
Use these positive thoughts instead:
I deserve to be happy.
I am great just as I am.
I am in control now.
I can do the best I can.
I am good.
I am smart.
I am beautiful inside and out.
I can make mistakes.
I am lovable.
I am strong.
It is not my fault.
I can succeed.
I am safe now.
Just like any good fighter, you have to take care of yourself. Regular exercise, good nutrition, relaxation and rest are important strategies to winning the worry war.
To help you visualize yourself as a worry warrior or a fear fighter, imagine wearing the following pieces of armor as you go into the battle:
Helmet of happy thoughts.
Breastplate of perfect love (that protects against fear).
Shield of self-confidence.
Boots (to stay grounded and moved you through the fight).
Sword of truth (that breaks irrational lies).
Chainmail of support (from family and friends).
Make up your own ideas with the following image as you become a worry warrior and a fear fighter: