Visualizing a Positive Situation
When a person is anxious, they are often focused on something negative that is happening or likely to happen. This activates a reactive response of fight, flight or freeze. Regardless of what type of reactive response the person resorts to, it is most likely going to a be negative response which makes the feelings of anxiety and anxiety provoking situation worse.
An effective strategy for effectively dealing with anxiety is to visualize a positive situation. This of course is easier said than done. Further, it is a strategy most people will understandably have a difficult time taking seriously. This is because most people at first glance will misinterpret the exercise to suggest that they should disconnect from the reality of their situation.
However the act of visualizing a positive situation for yourself, involves you developing a full understanding of the reality of the situation.
Self Full-Filling Prophesy
Often, when people are battling with their experiences of anxiety, they often give in to their feelings of fear and begin imagining worse case scenarios. Ironically, imagining worse case scenario is a survival instinct which allows us to survive dangerous situations. However, most of the time people experience anxiety in response to a situation, they are not dealing with a life or death situation. This does not stop some people from disassociating from the reality of their situation to imagining that they are dealing with a life or death situation. Subsequently the reactive response will often make the situation worse, and if repeated enough times can turn an inconvenience into a real life crisis.
Regardless of how badly the situation is going for you, often times, at least initially, the situation presents with an opportunity for positive outcomes. When you find yourself dealing with a situation you find anxiety provoking, here are three things you should practice in order to determine a positive outcome from the situation.
Step 1: Rest
You should take a break from the situation. For most people who struggled with math in their younger years (or still do), taking a break from a problem you struggled to solve was a very popular strategy. This is because you were experiencing cognitive fatigue in your initial efforts to solve the problem. With a break, comes the opportunity for your brain to recover, after which you would come back to the problem with fresh eyes and renewed mental energy to address the problem. This same strategy works when dealing with problems in everyday life.
Regardless of how anxiety provoking the situation is, taking a break from focusing on the problem, allows you to recover from the mental fatigue of worrying too much. This allows you to come back to the situation refreshed, re-energized and with a new perspective on the situation.
Step 2: Explore all Possibilities
Now you have taken a break from focusing on this issue, it is now time to explore this situation from another point of view. First, you want to identify your preferred outcome for how you want this anxiety provoking situation to play out. For example, let’s say your company announces that they will be making cuts via layoffs for the next month. Your preferred outcome for the situation would likely be to keep your job, followed secondly by you finding new employment with another company.
Regardless of what preferred outcomes to the situation you come up with, you want to take your time and do some research. Your research will involve exploring the origins of the problem, coupled with the feasibility of your desired outcome or outcomes.
Step 3: Develop a Plan and Follow-through
Using the example of company layoffs, you would want to investigate to determine the likelihood of you getting laid off. If you determine that it is highly likely that you would lose your job, the next step would be to do some research into what opportunities exist for you in the near future. This will be followed by reaching out to known contacts in the job market and following through in applying to openings you are qualified for.
By the time you have finished following through with step 2, of this strategy, you will likely feel a mixture of relief and excitement. This is because this step allows you to transition from focusing on an anxious provoking thought process, to focusing on a more optimistic thought process.
Ugo Uche is a psychotherapist and expert in anxiety and related disorders. If you would like to learn more, you are welcome to call and book your first appointment or fill out my contact form and click Send.
Ugo also provides Online therapy for those who cannot travel to his office.