When a person gets anxious, there are a few common thoughts that occur. I have broken them down into the most common. There are many ways we think these things, and I have picked a somewhat dramatic approach to help emphasize the point.
1. Everything is an emergency/the world is ending. We generally do not consciously think these two things, but the feeling of it is very real. For example, we may feel rushed all the time as if everything is a crisis. I have to get here or there, or I must complete this task or that…as if being late or missing a deadline is going to be the end of life as we know it. That’s all a lie. The truth is that there are very few actual emergencies, and most of the time when there is an emergency, there is not much we can do. For example, if you got a call that your parent had a heart attack, what can you do? You can rush to the hospital, but what is the staff going to tell you? That you have to WAIT! I found myself getting upset with my child recently, arguing about what she was going to wear. It felt like it was very important until she said, “It’s okay mommy.” I immediate realized that it is okay, and that what she wears does not matter in the grand scheme of things. The vast majority of things that feel super serious in our lives, aren’t that serious, and even the things that are have SOLUTIONS. I tell my clients, there are opportunities to grow in every tragedy, and there are solutions for literally every problem.
2. I’m not capable meeting the demands being made of me- lie. If there’s a lot to process or a lot being asked of us, we may start to feel anxious. But it’s just a feeling. The reality is that most of the time, if we are calm and present, we are perfectly capable of completing the tasks. And here’s the kicker, if we aren’t able to meet the desired expectation for one reason or another, it’s usually not the end of the world. Generally people are accommodating and adjust to whatever the reality is. I remember talking to my friend who is an engineer and he was saying he wasn’t going to meet a project deadline. Ignorantly I said, “Oh my God, what’s going to happen?” And he said, “They will just extend the deadline.” When you think about it, what else would they do?! Maybe fire him, but there would have to be MANY missed deadlines or problems to do that. And even so, let’s consider the worse case scenario, there are other jobs, and maybe that job isn’t right for him.
3. Everyone will think I’m weird. Social anxiety is a real beast. It tells us that we are annoying or weird, and that everyone is looking at us and judging us. I remember the day I realized that was a lie. As a teenager, we had to wait in the gym for the bell to ring, so literally the entire school was stuffed in there. When I walked in, it felt like everyone was looking at me, until one day I started paying closer attention. I realized that NO ONE was looking at me! Since then I have realized even more that people care about themselves and mostly think about themselves. If they judge you, it is usually very temporary as they really don’t care that much (unless your actions affect them in some way). Even when people say that you’re weird, it’s usually not an insult.