Have you ever left the house and wondered, “Did I turn off the coffee pot?” Or maybe you wonder did you lock the door or leave your straighter on again. As you drive to work you contemplate turning around so you don’t accidentally burn the house down.
Those of us who suffer from severe anxiety actually turn around. We go back to the house to make sure the garage is locked. We double, triple and sometimes quadruple check things. What can go wrong, will go wrong and we are bound and determined to prevent it.
Except we can’t, because no matter how much your anxiety thinks it’s helping you, it’s not.
The accident just posted on Facebook that happened by your house, where NO ONE can post a picture out of respect for the family, might be someone you know. You don’t need to ask what kind of car it is, because chances are, you know someone with a 2012 red Honda something. Now they aren’t answering the phone because they are at work, and you are sitting there at work wondering if your ex-boyfriend from high school was driving his red Honda on that road. I mean, he does live in the area. You haven’t even thought about him in years, but now your sure it’s him.
Anxiety doesn’t need a reason to worry, anxiety looks for a reason to worry.
So how do I manage my anxiety now? First, I have to remind myself that I have anxiety. Then, I have to remind myself that I control my actions, anxiety does not control me.
The first few times are hard. But once you prove to yourself your anxiety is wrong more often than right; you start to doubt it. And once you start to doubt your own anxiety, it loses its power over your thoughts.
I also stopped excusing my anxious behavior by telling people. Most people are understanding to it, and they give you the reassurance you need to push though. However, this just enables you to accept that its ok anxiety has control. Don’t get the immediate reassurance. Let anxiety be wrong.
Do I live in an anxiety free world? No.
Do I think I will ever live in an anxiety free world? Also, no.
But I do feel more in control. I just had to let anxiety be wrong, because the most important lesson I learned is anxiety is wrong, A LOT.
It’s ok to plan ahead, and to prepare, and to take precautions. It’s ok to be worried when you have a genuine reason, but it is not ok to let it consume you.
Bad things happen, worrying won’t change that. We can take every precaution, and bad things could happen. Try to mitigate the damage and only worry when you have a true reason.
Go for a walk, feed the ducks, take your elderly neighbor dinner, call a friend, but remember, just because something could go wrong, doesn’t mean it will. And more importantly, sometimes things go wrong so other things can go right. Don’t stand in your own way.