Anxiety Can Be Deceitful
Anxiety and fear are words that are almost interchangeable. The dictionary defines anxiety as follows: a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
Here is the definition of fear from the very same dictionary: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
To me those definitions are not dissimilar. For one thing they both encompass the belief about something that is going to happen in the future. Neither of them is about living in the present. That is the first step in dealing with fear and anxiety. Live in the present.
My Live Beyond Fear Project spends a lot of time helping people who are suffering from anxiety. And the first thing I try to do with all of them is help educate them about fear. Fear is natural. We all have it. It can be healthy. For instance, fear will make us run from a burning building. But anxiety will make us sit in a perfectly safe building and fear that it might catch on fire while we are there.
As I educate my clients about fear and anxiety I help them understand where fear comes from, why we have it and what we can do to control it. It is important, when we feel a sense of anxiety, to recognize it for what it is.
The next thing I do is help my clients explore what it is that is actually causing their anxiety. Many times it is not the obvious thing. Anxiety can be deceptive. While you may think you are afraid of heights, the anxiety you are feeling could be coming from a very different fear.
I once thought I was afraid of heights. Whenever I had to cross a ravine on a log, or walk up to the edge of a cliff when I was in the Army I would get a feeling of anxiety. It was so bad that it affected my performance on the obstacle course. But I was a licensed pilot and flew small airplanes and I jumped out of airplanes with a parachute. That did not bother me. I could stand in tall buildings and look out over the city with now feelings of anxiety or fear.
One day I was at lunch with a friend who happened to be a psychologist. I asked him about this phenomenon. He explained that I wasn’t afraid of heights. I was really afraid of edges. Suddenly it all made sense. My anxiety came from being in fear of falling over the edge, or off the log.
That is why we explore the “what” behind the fear and anxiety. Lastly I work with my clients to expand their comfort zone. I do not believe in the concept of getting outside your comfort zone. That is a temporary fix for a problem of fear and anxiety.
My fear of edges will not get any better if I “get out” of my comfort zone for a bit to deal with that individual situation. I needed to expand my comfort zone so that I was able to remove the anxiety associated with edges. That is real, long-lasting progress.
Remember when you begin to have that feeling of fear or anxiety that thing you are anticipating is almost never even going to happen. So take a deep breath, recognize that you are just having a moment of anxiety and relax.
I feel so strongly about this that I will give you a free strategy session with me on the phone to discuss your anxiety and how you can learn to live beyond fear. Do yourself a favor and contact me.