Every once in awhile, my therapist says something to me that absolutely blows my mind. One of those things was the idea of focusing on what you want, not what you don’t want. That may sound easy, but it’s trickier than you might expect. Maybe an event is coming up that you’re nervous about, and you think “I really hope x doesn’t happen,” “I don’t want to panic about x,” or “I’m scared talking to this person will feel like x.” Her suggestion is to turn things around by pushing yourself to think about what you DO hope happens, how you want to respond instead of panicking, and how you want to feel talking to that person. Here are some other examples:
What if I feel anxious at the airport? —–BECOMES—-> I want to feel relaxed and peaceful at the airport.
I’m scared of piloting this submarine, because the captain passed away in a sudden habanero pepper accident, and I am a first time submariner who will surely fail and doom us all. —–BECOMES—-> I’m scared of piloting this submarine, because the captain passed away in a sudden habanero pepper accident, and I am a first time submariner who will use my wits and ability as a fast learner to do my best to save the other passengers.
I’m nervous to catch up with a friend I haven’t seen in years because I don’t want to ramble, be too vulnerable, or doubt myself. —–BECOMES—-> I’m nervous to catch up with a friend I haven’t seen in years, and I want to be concise, wise, and confident.
Flipping things over like that can have a major impact on how we think and approach our lives. It doesn’t erase fears entirely, but it’s an encouraging step in a healthier direction! I find it a helpful way to check in with myself sometimes, because I’m definitely someone who will swing negative without realizing it.