In responding to anxiety, there are three primary mindsets people utilize, and these are objective based, morality based and primal based mindsets. These mindsets have a lot to do with the role anxiety plays in our lives. For example, you are more likely to experience feelings of anxiety when interpreting a situation from a mindset of primal or moral reasoning, than if you interpreted the same situation from a mindset of objective reasoning.
Take for example, you are going in for a job interview, it is not uncommon for you to experience some measure of anxiety before the job interview. But what if your level of anxiety is coming from a mindset of reasoning you should not be using to interpret the upcoming interview? Your level of anxiety would be very high if you were evaluating how the interview would go from a primal mindset. This is because the primal mindset is concerned with getting your fundamental needs met, in short, survival. From this mindset, you would be most concerned with your need for money, in order acquire or maintain your access to food, water, shelter and security. You are most likely to experience high anxiety from this mindset because primal reasoning is often activated by thoughts of scarcity. So, questions like, “what if they say no”, or “what if they say they are going to call me back and they don’t”, would be most predominant in your mind.
The next type of thinking that brings about anxiety, but usually at moderate levels are moral based reasoning. With this mindset, depending on the values you learned in your formative years, you may be concerned with your level of competency for the job or at an extreme end, the level of status the job may communicate to others. Typically, these values are merged to varying degrees. So, if you were concerned with competency, you would be most likely concerned with whether you have the right skill sets to perform the job, and if you can adequately communicate this to the interviewers. If you are primarily concerned with the status associated with the job, you would most likely be concerned about how likable you come across to the interviewers.
But, what if you approached your concerns about the job interview from an objective based mindset. An objective based mindset is one of neutrality. Nothing personal is taken and none is given, instead the person simply observes and accepts his or her reality for what it is. This means that if you were to adopt an objective based mindset in preparing for your job interview, you would become prepared to accept whatever the outcome of the interview maybe. So, if you are not accepted for the job, regardless of whether it was for lack of qualification relative to other interviewees or likability issues, a decision of “no” would simply mean that you are not a good fit for that work environment. From an objective mindset this would be a good thing, as you would conclude that it is evitable that you will find a job where your services are valued, and where you would fit in well.
It takes significant practice to adopt a mindset of objectivity in assessing anxiety provoking situations. However, what makes this mindset both effective and powerful is the inevitable conclusion that there exists a preferred if not ideal situation waiting for you to experience. What keeps sufferers of anxiety trapped in fear-based thinking is a difficulty to objectively assess situations and visualize what works for them.
Ugo is a psychotherapist with Road 2 Resolutions PLLC.