How many times have you worked yourself up into a state of anxiety over something that hasn’t even happened, may never happen, something beyond your control? You’re not alone, we humans tend to do this a lot then we blame things like the environment, other people and our jobs.
Anxiety, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is an emotion characterised by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. Phobia, classed as an anxiety disorder is an extreme, irrational fear of a specific object or situation.
One hot Friday in July I came out onto the street after a lovely yoga session only to see crime scene tape and police gathered around a BMW 4×4 that had mounted the pavement. The front of the vehicle was completely destroyed along with 3 bicycles (well it looked 3) that had been parked. There was no ambulance which hopefully meant that no one had been physically injured, I did feel sorry for the people who were going to come back after a hard days’ work to find a mangled mess where they had left their cycles.
A few days later I found out that one of the cycles belonged to a lady who had been in the yoga class, the person telling me this then said: “can you imagine what would have happened if she had come out 10 minutes earlier?” “It would have been just awful,” she said. That’s not necessarily true as there is no way of actually knowing if the accident would have happened if she had come out 10 minutes earlier. The lady no longer parks her new bike outside.
How many times have you scared yourself with imaginary horrors? I know I have done this many time. A friend of mine was stuck in a lift for approximately 35 minutes fourteen years ago. She now says she is claustrophobic (applies to lifts only) and has never been in another lift since no matter who she is with or how many floors she has to walk up. Is she really claustrophobic or has she been scaring herself with her memories of being stuck in the lift?
I was talking to another friend who was about to tell me about a new movie he’d seen but changed his mind. After some prompting, he explained that the film was about a shipwreck. He thought the film would scare me as I had recently returned from a sailing holiday and it might make me think about all the things that could have gone wrong. He had undoubtedly managed to scare himself and had decided that he was never going on any type of water vessel, he says it’s because he watched the film but is it?
Just some simple examples of the ways we talk ourselves into anxiety and phobias by giving life to our scary thoughts of what could or might happen if …………. We can be very creative when it comes to scaring ourselves.
The next time you have a scary or negative thought that stops you from doing something, ask yourself “Is it real or is it just my imagination working really well”?
If you were to really think about all things that could go wrong in a day you’d probably not get out of bed but then the ceiling could cave in, or the bed could collapse. Alternatively, you could learn the secret to living your life without phobias and daily anxiety.
It is we human beings that use Thought to produce such things as feelings, moods and our overall perceptions of life (Sydney Banks ‘The Missing Link’)