Anticipatory anxiety isn’t a monster that you can’t resist. It not special, nor is it a different kind of anxiety that requires some different approach. This is not an external, uncontrollable force. As with every other aspect of your anxiety issues, it comes from within. This is not a mystery. Lets break it all the way down:
A panic attack involves being afraid.
Panic disorder is being afraid of being afraid.
Anticipatory anxiety is being afraid of being afraid of being afraid.
In a nutshell, anticipatory anxiety is just the third layer of fear you add to your situation. You do this when faced with situations that you’d rather avoid, escape from, or hide from. You know that the way to overcome your driving anxiety is to drive, but you may say that you can’t because anticipatory anxiety has you “stuck”.
There’s No Magic Tips and Tricks
If you’re thinking that you have to find a way to eliminate anticipatory anxiety so you can get on with the work that needs to be done, you are mistaken. As with the rest of this problem we’re trying to solve, the goal is not to make it go away. The only way that this will go away is when you learn not to be afraid of the your own body, sensations, feelings and thoughts. If anticipatory anxiety has you struggling to get out the door to do your exposures, then the way to solve that problem is to get out the door to do your exposures. Sorry, there’s no magic wand here.
What Can I Do?
While you can’t wipe out anticipatory anxiety, you can learn to move through it so that you can get on with the work you know needs to be done. This involves a few different concepts:
Make a plan. If you have a plan for how you will get ready to “get out the door”, then you can execute that plan even when afraid. Don’t make it up as you go. This leaves you a way out and that is NOT what you want or need.
Learn to live mindfully and in the moment. You do not have to live the events you dread before they happen. By learning to live mindfully while executing your “pre game” plan, you can avoid the trap of speculating and trying to predict the future.
Accept that the only way to overcome anticipatory anxiety is to move THROUGH it and actually do the work required to face your fear and un-learn your bad brain habits.
Many people are under the false impression that they must honor, follow and engage deeply with every thought they have. This is simply not true. When dealing with both anxiety and trauma issues, your thoughts can often be your enemy. Listening to everything you think and acting as if every thought is correct and valid can lead you deeper in the anxiety maze. Monique has some excellent ways to frame this and some outstanding ways to approach this problem. We discuss awareness of our constant thoughts, why we often give them more power and respect than they deserve, and how the nature of thoughts are to be temporary. If you can stop the mental chatter, things will most times get much better faster than you think.
Thank you again to my friend Monique for taking the time with us today!
If you’re in the grips of anxiety, panic, agoraphobia or PTSD you may feel powerless and incapable of doing what needs to be done to change things. This isn’t true. Monique and I talk about how you have power and control even in the darkest moments. You are not stuck. You are capable of making the changes you need. You might just need to change direction, and you can!
Do you worry that your anxiety problems are going to “ruin everything” for your friends and family? Being worried about letting people down or ruining things can seriously stand in the way of taking the steps you need to take to build a better life. I’ve found this to be a common theme among anxiety sufferers, so lets talk about how the happiness of others is NOT your responsibility.
You are not responsible for making people happy or sad, and you are not responsible for the positive or negative outcome of every social event, family function or other situation that involves other people in your life. In this episode Monique Koven and I discuss the origins of this distortion, how it can be an impediment to progress, and what we can do about it.
Thanks to Monique for joining the discussion today!
OCD and intrusive, obsessive thoughts are two of the most common issues encountered by people with anxiety issues. They can be scary, hard to understand and difficult to deal with. Difficult doesn’t mean impossible though, so today I had a chat with OCD specialist Kimberley Quinlan (LMFT). Kimberly was kind enough to share lots of good information and resources in this one, along with a bunch of concepts you’ll find very familiar if you’ve been following me for any length of time. Thanks to Kim for spending this time with us!
The way you talk about your anxiety matters. More than you think. Are you always speaking passively and just describing how you feel? Are you worried about what people will think about your anxiety? Do you fear that you are boring them, alienating them, or pushing them away when you discuss your anxiety? Are you ready to adopt a more constructive active voice that reflects ongoing recovery?
This is a great question that came up in the Facebook group a few days ago, so I thought it was worth 15 minutes or so to talk about it.
What are your thoughts? Comments and questions welcomed as always.
If you’re suffering with health anxiety – no matter how severe – Sarah’s story will inspire you and give you hope. Join me as we look at Sarah’s journey into completely out of control health anxiety, then back out to a place of calm and peace when it comes to her health and her state of being. Thank you so much to Sarah for taking the time to share her story!
My friend Andrew has gone from agoraphobic to well down the path to full recovery and was nice enough to take some time to share his story. We talk about how he got from “contented agoraphobic” to where he is today, what the future holds, and we we answer some questions asked in our Facebook discussion group. Thank you Andrew!
“Drew, are you cured? Do you still have panic attacks?” I get asked this question all the time. The answer is …I still experience panic attacks now and then. Come watch me experience near panic on the air in this episode. Then Billy and I answer more viewer questions from the Facebook forum.
In this episode Billy and I discuss the relationship between stress and anxiety and why stress doesn’t have to automatically become anxiety and fear. Afterward we answer a slew of great questions from the Facebook discussion group.