In my experience, everyone has, at one point or another, been anxious. It could have been because you forgot to close the garage door, or because some creepy dude sitting two tables away from you at a Denny’s is staring at you. Or, in some extreme cases, it could simply be because you stepped out of your front door and the prospect of riding the train to school is terrifying.
Unfortunately, I can accurately be described as an “extreme case.” Anxiety has always played a prominent yet unwelcome role in my day-to-day life, resulting in discomfort of the highest degree. There are days when I detest the very idea of facing the day, when I cringe at the thought of holding a casual conversation with another human being. Because of my added difficulties, I immediately sympathize with anyone who suffers from anxiety of any severity.
So, how do I fix it? Do I even try to fix it? Or do I settle with this everyday fear that could potentially dilute my happiness and keep me from truly living? No, I do not settle with living in fear, nor do I allow friends, clients, or family members to resign themselves to such a terrible fate.
Anxiety is meant to protect, but more often than not, it ends up hindering and hurting rather than doing what it intends to do. Usually, it tosses aside all rationality and replaces it with wildly unlikely scenarios that scare away any desire to take risks or enjoy anything. Many people who experience crippling anxiety express interest in having and doing more, but their tendencies to listen to those tiny, evil voices in their heads overpower that yearning.
Take my fear of flying, for example. For years, I refused to travel on airplanes, completely unaware of the experiences and places I was missing out on. If a potential vacation spot was too far away or too remote, my family would have to find an alternative to accommodate me. It took years for me to face my fear of flying and finally grant myself the quality of life I craved.
Every time I step onto an airplane, I begin a ritual of sorts. When I take my seat and situate myself, I begin taking deep, controlled breaths while mentally preparing for takeoff. When the engines start humming and the plane starts moving, I construct a set of tracks in my head and imagine that the plane never leaves those tracks, even in flight. That way, even while experiencing turbulence, the plane can’t fall because it’s on tracks for the duration of the flight. I imagine everything, making it so real in my mind that even the idea of a plane crash is preposterous. And guess what? It works every time. Granted, it took years to develop this skill, but I’m so glad that I did.
But the application of this technique doesn’t stop with aeronautics. It can be applied to any situation. Instead of imagining a scenario with a negative outcome, envision one with a positive outcome or, at the very least, one that renders your fears powerless and irrelevant. It takes practice, but if you use it in your everyday life, results will follow very quickly.
Anxiety has the intentions of a very dear friend, but the execution of an incredibly dangerous enemy. Mastering anxiety essentially boils down to a choice: will you allow your anxiety to fester and evolve, or will you demand better for yourself and take steps to improve your mental well-being?
I’ll leave you with that, and I sincerely hope that you will find strength in yourself and start working toward a happier life. You deserve the very best.