Thursday, June 26, 2014

anxiety doesn't become me

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post called Pushing the Button. I talked about how important it is to trust the process. Today I remembered just how important this is as I have been struggling to trust the inevitable changes looming ahead for me. I realized that all of my concerns and worries were getting wrapped around me in a giant blanket of fear. I couldn't eat, I couldn't relax, even sleeping was stressful. 

I remembered that the keys to courage is learning how to keep moving forward in spite of the fear surrounding me. Here are some practical methods I use to acknowledge my fears and move forward without letting them control me.

1. Make a list. Or a spreadsheet.

      Usually when I'm wigging out like this, it's because I can't decide between two options, or I have too many thoughts to consider and remember. This will help you whether you're weighing two options or are afraid of everything. 
      I personally like spreadsheets for comparing things, or pairing actions with status updates, whatever. When I was looking at moving to be closer to work I estimated my cost of living in different towns by rent prices, pet deposits, commuting distances, approximate gas used per month, and toll costs. I compared these expenses for at least six different scenarios. Then I did it again for commuting on public transit. After that, my decision was easy.
      When I was trying to determine whether or not I was an alcoholic I made a list with two columns, one for reasons I was an alcoholic, and one for all the reasons I wasn't. What I found when I made the list was that all of the reasons I thought I wasn't an alcoholic were based on the opinions of other people....which brings me to...

2. Cross off any worries founded in the opinions of other people. 

     These are things we have no control over. People have minds of their own and we have no control over their thoughts and beliefs. If it's going to cause us agony, the only productive thing to do is to let it go. 

3. Group your fears by type according to people, money, love, and material belongings. 

    All fears stem from one of two ideas, "I'm not going to get what I want" or "I'm going to lose something I already have." It's easier to see which one each fear stems from when you group them like this.
    Go through your list and identify each item as fitting one of these two ideas. 

4. List actions you can take for every fear on your list. 

     As much as we like to think we are in complete control of our future, the fact is that other people exist in this world. While they may impact us, we have no idea how or when it will happen.
     What we can do includes anything on this list. Update your resume if you're afraid of losing a job. Hire an editor to work on your book's manuscript. Call a friend to ask for support with a difficult decision. 

5. Work on your to-do list, one fear at a time.

     Do not try to tackle everything at once. It like if you try to wash all of your clothes at once, the machine won't work because it's overloaded. The same principle applies. 
     Remember, put a big, fat line through each action once it's completed. 

6. Remember your FEARs are simply False Evidence Appearing Real. 

     "...notice and remind yourself that all fear, unless it involves rapidly moving weapons, teeth, or claws, is actually bullshit." ~

But whatever you do, don't let your life be run by fear.