How to control your fear & anxiety

 

I am a worrier. I have always been a worrier, it was a trait that I was born with. I feel if I know what the worst case scenario could be, then I can be more prepared in case it happens. Now that I understand more about the idea of manifesting, thoughts become things, and all of that good stuff this has definitely been a trait that I am trying to change.

Anxiety and fear are often words that are used interchangeably, but in reality fear and anxiety are two completely different things.  The definition of fear is “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger.” Let me stress that last part, impending danger. Think about the whole fight or flight and caveman scenario. A caveman goes out hunting and a giant, hungry saber-tooth tiger jumps out at him. The caveman is now in a situation where he is experiencing a distressing emotion caused by impending danger. That, my friend, is true Fear! His body then does all kinds of amazing things, things he doesn’t even think about and in a split second the caveman makes the subconscious decision to fight or take flight. The caveman’s body responded to fear of impending danger. Fear is a productive emotion, based on the danger that is actually happening. Fear is needed for survival.

Anxiety, on the other hand, is a feeling of worry or nervousness over potential events with an uncertain outcome. Did you hear that folks, potential events and uncertain outcome. Unlike fear, which is needed for survival, anxiety and worry are unproductive feelings based on possible and uncertain outcomes. Let’s go back to our caveman scenario. The caveman needed to go hunting and gathering for survival. When faced with the impending danger of being face to face with a hungry saber-tooth tiger, he felt fear and his body responded. The caveman escaped from the tiger and ran back to his cave. Later in the day, he went out hunting again where he found a huge nut tree. He lived on nuts his entire life and lived happily ever after. Now imagine if that caveman was so worried or anxious because there might possibly be a hungry tiger outside of his cave. He is so filled with anxiety that he refuses to hunt and he never leaves his cave. Maybe right outside of his cave is that huge tree full of nuts. But, he is too worried to step outside of his cave. He dies of starvation even though all the food he ever needs is just waiting for him a few steps outside of his cave. The caveman never leaves his cave because he is so worried about possible, uncertain events that may or may not happen. Seems pretty ridiculous.

Earlier today my daughter and I were at the store looking at Halloween decorations. My daughter picked up a little box and when she opened it up it made a creepy laughing noise.  I picked up a little box and opened it and it was empty. My daughter asked me what was in the box and I told her to open it and see. Immediately anxiety filled her body and she refused to open it, she said she was ‘scared’ of what was inside. I told her to be brave and look inside. We sat in that store for 10 minutes because she was so nervous to open the box. She wanted to open it so badly because she was so curious what was inside. But, anxiety and worry overcame her and she could not bring herself to open it. She pulled at her dress, put the box down, walked away, came back, picked it back up, tried to open it, then put it down again. She repeated this routine over and over.  I just stood there and continued to encourage her to open the box. I could very easily have opened the box for her, or just told her that the box was empty, but it was so interesting to see how the slightest bit of uncertainty made her imagination go wild. She was so worked up about what could possibly be in that tiny little box (maybe it’s filled with spiders, maybe it’s a mummy, I think it was something red, maybe it’s blood) she could not even think straight. Finally, she opened the box and was beyond disappointed to find out it was nothing…absolutely nothing! She was so worried about literally nothing.

Watching my daughter experience this much worry and anxiety about a tiny empty box really got me thinking. How many times have I gotten myself so worked up that I couldn’t eat, sleep, or focus on anything but a possible, uncertain outcome that may or may not even happen. How much energy and time have I wasted freaking out and making myself sick about literally nothing.

The next time you find yourself “scared” of a possible outcome, or sick with worry about what might possibly happen think back to the caveman. Ask yourself if you are truly in a situation of impending danger, or if you are worried about an unknown/possible outcome. Think about the words you use. If you are feeling worried or anxious about an unknown situation, call it what it is,.anxiety and worry. Do not say you are “scared” or “fearful”. Using high emotion-filled words gives the feeling of worry and anxiety too much power.  Fear is a productive emotion that is needed for survival. Worry and anxiety are not. The next time you find yourself worried sick about something, remember sometimes all it ends up being is a completely empty little box.

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