Everyone has it at some point in their life. It can be over an interview for a job, going on a first date, bungee jumping, meeting someone who is important to you, skiing downhill, speaking in public, swimming….you name it, it can cause anxiety. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Anxiety pumps us up, makes us more alert and ready to prevent dangerous situations from occurring. But what if there is no real danger?
Is an interview actually dangerous? Not unless you’re interviewing for a position where violence is the norm like a drug cartel or a gang. Is a first date dangerous? Usually not, regardless of what tv and the press tell us. Usually it’s awkward, funny, boring, annoying, intriguing, and/or a fun romp and probably a mixture of several of those. The worst you usually get is a dose of “Come on! Really?” that you can use to regale your friends later. Speaking in public, unless you’re a movie star or a politician, less than likely to get you harmed. Depending on the venue and what you have to say. But the odds are really against it. Words are everywhere around us and for the most part everyone is so bombarded with messages we don’t listen to the majority of what public speakers say anyway.
So what does anxiety do for us in those situations. Experts on violence and defending ourselves point out that it is counter productive and actually harmful to us because it focuses our attention on things that aren’t really dangerous and keeps us from being alert to things that really could be. If we’re so wound in our head about talking with our boss about a promotion that we don’t see the guy who cut us off in traffic until it’s too late, I would have to agree.
But I think it also really helps us if we take the time necessary to look at it. You’re not anxious for no reason. Believe it or not, we’re human beings who live by our thoughts as well as our feelings and our instincts. So the anxiety is coming from one of them. Which one and why? If anxiety is to be useful at all, it is as a sign post that points us to something we really need to find, recognize, and do something with. If we take the time to actually listen to ourselves, stop trying to avoid the anxiety, and go where it’s pointing, we can no only heal the issue therefore stopping the anxiety, but become better stronger more amazing people by finding a part of ourselves that was lost.
Anxious about something? Ask yourself why. And after you give the standard answer of “I don’t know. It’s completely random and weird” ask again. Because you do know. And once you know in your mind what is in your heart and in your body, then you can do something besides be anxious and say “I don’t know”.