Updated: Oct 15, 2020
When I look back to my history with anxiety, the one that sticks out very significantly is the anxiousness I would get when I would look too heavily at “what’s to come.” Now, I’m not referring here to having a vision of what I want to do or be with my life (I’ll save that for a future post). What I am referring to is about the anxiety of anticipation or perceived anticipation.
Let me give you an example, on Sunday afternoon when the weekend is winding down, and you are getting ready to go back to work the next day. Did you ever get the thought or said, “It wasn’t long enough? Or how about “it went too fast.” Then, after having these thoughts, did it change the rest of your day, maybe the pep in your step, not quite the same after? Then you think about all the things you need to get done before Monday. Perhaps even start your to-do list for the week.
How did it impact your weekend?
What would have happened if you would have just stayed in the present and enjoyed the whole rest of your weekend? How would it have changed your energy level?
Now, look at your life. Do you have areas that you do the same? Do you get stuck in the “what’s to come” or the “what will they think” loop?
When I was peeling back the layers and years of anxiety to reduce it and know how to manage for the future, I recognized much of the anxiety I would get from anticipation also came from past experiences. This included relationships with people close to me that were not always healthy and things at work. It was almost as though I would mentally note, “watch out, this hurt,” and my brain would take note, “don’t do that again.” When I was in a situation where I had that mental reminder of how it rolled out last time, I would get edgy and anxious about what was going to happen this time. Like I was trying to anticipate the future.
Who else has had this experience before?
You guys, not only is this not healthy for any of us from a sheer mental, emotional, and physical perspective, but it completely takes the fun out of life, and it impacts our relationships. Recognizing this on my journey has been so impactful, I believe it can also help anyone reading this who falls into the same pattern.
I encourage you to take the time to reflect on what areas you get into the habit or pattern of negative anticipation in your life.
My favorite go-to quote for this one, “Carpe Diem,” and Be Where Your Feet Are!!
So, Jen, how can I be more present, you ask? These are some of the things that I do to help ensure I am where my feet are and keep the anxiety of anticipation away.
The first thing I do is ask myself and determine what I can control it (i.e., Your controllables)? This generally comes to your personal planning and preparedness. Then take action on what you can control.
When there are things you cannot control (although I caution you on this to really think about what you can control in any situation because it can often come in the form of your attitude towards it). Let’s face it; there are things that we all must do in life that we don’t necessarily enjoy, but they need to be done. You could change the script, perhaps, re-frame it to say you “get to” and see if that helps.
Reinforce the fact that it’s all YOUR CHOICE! From the attitude you have to the job, to the people we surround ourselves with, it’s our choice what that looks like. When we say things are out of our control, it releases our own power of choice. Keep the power of choice!
The thing you truly cannot control is other people. My best advice here is to accept that they are just like you in the fact that they are just being who they are. You don’t know what they have on their head or heart. All you can do, as I mentioned earlier, is to choose how you show up. If there are people you tend to get more anxious around and can eliminate or reduce your time with, do that. Either have the tough conversation that needs to be had or LIMIT your time with them. It doesn’t make you or them more right or more wrong; it just means that you are different people, a different way of doing things, and perhaps you are not healthy for one another, period, end of the story.
Ask and answer the question, what can you learn from the situation? How can you grow from it? In those situations that you generally view as hard, try re-framing it that you are building grit. Or whatever re-frame works for you.
Ask yourself the question, is there any benefit that comes from your anxiousness in the situation. My guess is that this answer should always be no. After you answer that, go back to step one and control what you can, accept the rest.
Practice gratitude. Friends, if you haven’t yet started a gratitude journal or daily reminders, I highly encourage it. There is gratitude to be had and felt literally in everything. From the sheer fact that you are living and woke up today to your ability to read this blog to the fact that you have a community here. I could go on and on. Start looking for gratitude, and you will see more of it.
Be where your feet are friends. Removing anxiety from life and appreciating moments, that’s truly what life is meant to be!
Enjoying the Journey!!