Fear of the future.
This is the simple definition of anxiety. Anxiety is a fear of the future. It’s a fear of something no one has control over.
When suffering from anxiety, pinpoint what exactly is making you anxious or nervous. You will notice it is something that hasn’t even happened yet and that you most likely have no control over. Anxiety is your Irrational Mind telling you that you have something to worry about. Your Irrational Mind is telling you the issue is a big problem that you need to be concerned with. Your Irrational Mind will lie to you and convince your Rational Mind that you don’t have it all under control and you can’t handle it
For example, imagine you want to ask your boss for a raise. Rationally, you know it’s not a big deal. You know that the worst-case scenario will be that your boss says “no.” First of all, this conversation is in the future. It’s something you want to do. It hasn’t happened yet. Second, you have no control over your boss’s response. Your boss will tell you “yes” or “no” or “ask again in a few months.” Your Irrational Mind, however, will convince you that asking for a raise is akin to asking your boss for their first born. Your Irrational Mind will blow this simple request into something HUGE and make you worry about even thinking about asking for a raise. Your Irrational Mind will LIE to you and convince your Rational Mind that asking for a raise is not appropriate, that you don’t deserve a raise, that everyone gets paid the same. Your Irrational Mind will convince you to not ask for a raise because if your boss wanted to give you a raise, your boss would have done so already. And then, your Rational Mind will get resentful. When you decide you’re going to ask for it anyway, you will feel utterly anxious and you may even chicken out, convincing yourself you don’t really want that raise anyway.
Really? Who doesn’t want a raise??
The simple fix, which takes practice, is recognizing that your Irrational Mind is trying to take control of the situation. This is where Mindfulness comes in. Being aware of the here and now and only what you have control over helps manage the anxiety. Let’s look at the facts: You have control over whether or not you ask for a raise. Fact: You want a raise. Fact: You just might deserve a raise. Fact: If you don’t get a raise now, you could quit or wait until some time has passed to ask again. Fact: You don’t know how your boss will respond. These facts are hard and true. What your boss responds with is something you don’t have control over, so it makes no sense worrying about something that your boss might not say.
Easier said than done, right? The way to work through this anxiety is to challenge your thoughts. When your Irrational Mind makes an untrue statement, you need to speak to it as if it were a toddler: That is not true. These are the facts. Or, when your Irrational Mind says your boss would have given you that raise already if you deserved one, you would respond: I deserve a raise. I am a hard worker. I won’t know if I’ll get it until I ask. Being in charge of your mind and reminding yourself of the truths will help you work through your anxiety. Telling your Irrational Mind that asking isn’t a big deal and minimizing the catastrophe it is trying to create helps to lessen your anxiety. Because asking for a raise isn’t a catastrophe – it’s a question. It’s a question with a yes or no answer. The worst case is you get told “no.” The preferred outcome is you get told “yes.” So, rationally, why wouldn’t you take that 50/50 chance of getting told “yes?”
And, when you finally do ask for your raise, regardless of the answer, you will realize it wasn’t that big of a deal. You will feel stronger and more capable the next time you have a question to ask. Conquer your fear and get rid of your anxiety!