Anxiety is caused by the idea that you are unable to endure and overcome hardship. At its worst, anxiety means to some people that they will perish before their time if they experience the hardship that they fear the most. This brings us to what I want to discuss today “what are you looking out for?”
What most people who struggle with anxiety fail to realize, is that they are unintentionally focusing on what they least want, which leads to most of their daily life experiences being unwanted and unpleasant. It’s like a game that kids play, where they focus on looking for as many cars of a certain color they can see on the road. They end up entertaining themselves, by finding plenty of cars on the road with the color they choose to look out for.
The same principle applies to what you focus your thoughts on. There are natural and logical consequences that apply even to what you think about. When it comes to anxiety, even if you are fortunate enough to not find what you are looking for, you will certainly experience the consequences of looking. For example, those who are socially anxious and fear rejection will experience the consequence of an intense fear of groups, even if people are accepting of them.
Change your focus
The solution is to identify an experience you would enjoy and look for it. Meaning, the socially anxious person’s cure for social anxiety, is to identify what it would feel like to be confident and calm in all group experiences. This is easier said than done, as a matter of fact, most people who struggle with anxiety find this solution very difficult to practice.
Their difficulty in practicing this solution makes sense, given that their neurological pathway for this new behavior is very weak, and in some cases, nonexistent. As opposed to their neurological pathway for engaging in anxiety-related thoughts and behaviors. However, the effects of the solution are noticed, if practiced consistently for thirty days.
Once a socially anxious person can identify his ideal situation — such as a consistent mindset of calmness — he starts to notice these traits more often in himself.
People who have struggled with anxiety can achieve this stage of healing in their lives without professional intervention. This is because healing often comes by accident.
An accidental healing
For example, I once read the story of a sixty-year-old man who, after struggling with social anxiety for most of his life discovered a more confident version of himself after he had spent time traveling. For the first time in his life, during his vacation to a foreign land, he encountered a boat accident, where without thinking he participated in the rescue. As a result of the feedback of gratitude, he received from those around him, (and likely his own surprise at his capabilities) he experienced a level of confidence never felt before. He suddenly found himself a changed man.
He was no longer afraid of being around groups of people. He was no longer bothered by constant thoughts of things that could go wrong in his life. Instead, he found himself waking up every day and looking forward to all the things he wanted to experience. He found himself a believer in his abilities. He was happier.
If you struggle with any form of anxiety, you don’t have to wait for a chance encounter, to change your perception of yourself and the world around you. You can practice today on identifying and becoming the more confident version of yourself.
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.