Don’t Let Anxiety Hold You Back From Living Your Dreams

The article below introduces us briefly to few ideas which may help us in order to achieve better self control over our emotions. As Dr. Greenberg says: “…you can choose to move ahead and keep taking constructive action despite the anxiety, thereby building resilience and self-confidence and opening up new possibilities for a productive and meaningful life.  It isn’t easy, but it is definitely worth the effort!”. With the contribution of hypnotherapy we can learn techniques which help us confront difficult emotions, thoughts and situations. Adaptations of the exercises listed below can be mentally rehearsed under a hypnotic state, thus speeding their integration into or subconscious mind and encouraging them to become part of who we are at a given moment, if this is what we want.

Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

Learn to get a handle on anxiety and move forward

Does anxiety lead you to hesitate and second-guess yourself?  When you think of starting a new project or going into a group situation with people you don’t know, do you feel butterflies in your stomach or a sense of dread? Do you come up with lots of reasons not to do a potentially fun or profitable activity that has some degree of risk, like joining a hiking club or volunteer organization  posting your dating profile online, getting fit, starting a blog, or turning your hobby into a small business?  Do you do tons of research but not take the next step to turn your ideas into action?  If this is you, anxiety and excessive caution may be getting in your way and stopping you from going after your dreams and living a more meaningful and fulfilling life. Avoidance feeds on itself and makes you less confident, while getting started and taking action creates a positive cycle that naturally helps your anxiety go down. But where do you begin? The strategies below provide a roadmap for moving forward and taking the first step towards the life you long for!

Don’t Wait for Your Anxiety to Go Down 

Your anxiety is likely wired in as part of your temperament and won’t just go down on it’s own.  Our human brains are hard-wired not to like uncertainty, unpredictability and change and some of us are just anxiety-prone by nature.  However, when you take action towards your goals despite the anxiety and you actually survive the experience, your brain begins to label uncertainty as less dangerous.  Over time, you build a sense of self-efficacy – you begin to see yourself as someone who can take action and be successful even when you’re feeling anxious.

Set a Realistic Goal That Makes Sense for You

We all have different personalities, temperaments. and preferences.  We don’t all want to be lawyers, have hundreds of friends, run marathons, be super-skinny and live in a mansion.  Anxiety makes you see yourself as less talented, lovable or competent than others.  When you think of moving forward, if you don’t really know yourself, you may set a goal to be like your friend or neighbor – to do what is socially acceptable or what others expect of you.  It’s very hard to remain committed and follow through on difficult long-term goals, especially if you’re not really passionate about the activity. Rather than thinking about what you ‘should” be doing, take a look inside and ask yourself what you really want.  Perhaps you are a creative person, or want to travel, have life balance, live healthier, or find a caring partner.  Whatever it is you want, figure out what is the easiest thing you can do to get started.  Phrase your goal specifically “e.g., walk for 20 minutes three times next week.”  You can’t climb a mountain all at once and you’re more likely to achieve your goal with intrinsic (coming from the inside) motivation than when you’re just trying to please others.

 Trust the Process

As Martin Luther King Junior said Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”  Even if you don’t have faith to begin with, faith will come if you just take that first step.  The more you take action, the more likely you are to have some successes and begin to trust yourself, the process, or the universe.  I often start writing a blog post not knowing exactly what I’m going to write.  I’ve learned that if I have a genuine intention to help my readers and a message to share, then the content will emerge. As many writers will tell you, if you just start writing, the ideas will form and your “creative masterpiece” will take shape over time as anxiety diminishes and you’re left with your story to tell or your genuine passion for the ideas you want to express.  The same applies to other aspects of life like starting a new job, project, relationship, or business venture.

Curb the Catastrophizing

Anxious people tend to focus on what could go wrong and on how bad it would be if you took a risk and got a negative outcome.  What if you went on a date and the person turned out to be a jerk or they never called you back?  What if you invested a bit of money to start a business and it didn’t work out, or if you applied for a job and didn’t get it?  What if you changed jobs because you were miserable and found yourself in a worse situation?  While you wouldn’t want these outcomes, how bad are they really?  Are they as bad as getting cancer or a family member dying?  I’m guessing the answer is “No”!  Could you survive them?  Do you have coping skills you could use or could you try again or take a different approach the next time?  I’ll bet you could!   Anxiety makes you overestimate the risks of taking action, but what are the risks of staying stuck in a bad situation?  Won’t  you regret not even trying to go after your dreams?

Be Your Own Cheerleader, Not Your Own Critic

Going after your dreams is tough and you will face inevitable obstacles and failures along the way.  But you don’t need to make these barriers worse by beating up on yourself every time you do something that doesn’t turn out perfectly.  Many of life’s important outcomes have an element of luck or uncertainty.  We can control what we do, but we can’t control market forces or what other people decide.  You may speak up for yourself and get criticism and pushback, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done  something wrong.  Our brains naturally go to the negative because they are protection-focused, rather than promotion-focused.  To overcome this bias, you need to deliberately focus on the positives in the situation.  Honor yourself for taking a risk, leaning into your discomfort, or just showing up when you wanted to curl up on the couch at home!  You can’t control the outcomes, so praise yourself for putting in the effort and you’ll continue to stay motivated!

With these tools, you can begin to be the master of your anxiety, rather than letting it master you.  It’s not a matter of getting rid of anxiety (which is likely impossible).  Instead, you can choose to move ahead and keep taking constructive action despite the anxiety, thereby building resilience and self-confidence and opening up new possibilities for a productive and meaningful life.  It isn’t easy, but it is definitely worth the effort!

Post published by Melanie Greenberg Ph.D. on Mar 29, 2015 in The Mindful Self-Express. Psychology Today. To read from the original source, please click here.

Resources and Links

For more useful and practical tools for managing your anxiety, I recommend the book below, written by my Psychology Today colleague Dr. Alice Boyes:

The Anxiety Toolkit – Strategies for Fine-Tuning Your Mind and Moving Past Your Stuck Points, published by Perigree – an imprint of Penguin – Random House

http://www.amazon.com/The-Anxiety-Toolkit-Strategies-Fine-Tuning/dp/0399169253(link is external)

Also, check out the following blog posts:

The Five Best Ways to Decrease Your Anxiety

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201106/the-six-best-ways-decrease-your-anxiety

Why We Can’t Just Get Rid of Anxiety and Distress

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201303/why-we-cant-just-get-rid-anxiety-distress

Five Ways Living Mindfully Can Help You Reach Your Goals

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201305/five-ways-living-mindfully-can-help-you-reach-your-goals

About the Author

Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. is a Psychologist in Mill Valley, California, and expert on mindfulness, emotions, neuroscience, and behavior, Dr Greenberg provides workshops and speaking engagements for organizations, life coaching, andpsychotherapy for individuals and couples. She regularly appears on radio shows, and as an expert source in national media.

Sign up for Dr Greenberg’s newsletter the link below:

http://eepurl.com/EWWUv(link is external)

Visit her website

http://melaniegreenbergphd.com/marin-psychologist/(link is external)

Like her on facebook

http://www.facebook.com/mindfulselfexpress(link is external)

Read her Psychology Today blog

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express

and her personal blog

http://marinpsychologist.blogspot.com

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About Anna Pons

Certificat (CPPD), Post Graduat Certificat (PGCert) i Post Graduat Diploma (PGD) en Hipnoteràpia Clínica, London College of Clinical Hypnosis (LCCH) i Universitat de West London (UWL)
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