Yesterday I was talking with a couple of good friends about how I’ve been pushing myself to just do things instead of worrying about them. They asked me, “How are you able to do that?” I reflected back to a strategy I learned in therapy. I know I already talked about this in an earlier post, but it’s one of those fundamental characteristics I can rely on to help me break my habits of anticipating and avoiding.
I realized I’m really good at this kind of thing at work. I’m not afraid to push back, to ask questions, or come up with a new strategy to deal with things. So, I wondered, why am I good at that at work, but not at home? When I’m at work, I’m very conscious of how much time, money, and energy is being used or wasted. So now I apply that same principle to my home life. I waste more time and energy worrying about something than it takes to just ask about something.
Whenever I notice I’m getting anxiety over something now, I push myself to take action on it rather than anticipate and worry about what could happen if I were to do or say something. For example, on Sunday I was running late and had to find a parking spot. I get a lot of anxiety over parking in small spaces on a hill. The first available spot I found was a tight spot on a hill. Instead of freaking out over it, I decided why don’t I just try it and see what happens? So I did it. This is just one small example of overcoming anticipation and avoidance. And like I wrote about with pushing your social anxiety by continuing to engage in social contact (e.g. going to events, asking someone to get coffee or go to lunch, talking to people in the hall, making plans with friends), once you start doing it, it becomes kind of addicting and second nature. But, if you have one bad outcome, like if I were to hit a car parking in a narrow spot on a hill, don’t let that discourage you from trying something again or asking for something again in the future.
Now I also want to talk about avoidance and the tools I’ve been using for it. I wrote about some of the things I’ve been avoiding in an earlier entry like going to the dentist and eating eggs. I also have been avoiding what used to be some of my most favorite hobbies. Last week I set some small goals or Quests that I’m really looking forward to doing that in the long run will get me closer to doing those things I’ve been avoiding. These things don’t have to be big goals. I also have a problem doing things for myself. I get all worried about how I shouldn’t spend money on myself. So I applied the same principles I apply with work there. I thought about how I should “invest” my time, money and energy into my passions so that I will be happier and defeat anxiety, avoidance and guilt.
If you’re reading this and are trying to tackle anxiety, avoidance and guilt, what kind of tools do you use to overcome them? What have you found works? What doesn’t work?