Anxiety – I believe that anxiety plagues some of the most successful people. While anxiety can be debilitating, it can also push us to do better, and sometimes go overboard to perfectionism. Nonetheless, anxiety can be a useful tool. It doesn’t have to instill fear or a sense of losing control. You can use it in a productive way.
Anxiety may present in the form of your muscles tensing, your stomach experiencing fluttering (“butterflies”), uneasiness, and even fear. These are signs that whatever is coming up may be important. If this is happening before a big test or possibly a job interview, it means this is a major thing in your life. Coming from a mindfulness approach, here is a way to look at your anxiety.
Scenario: It's an hour before the big event (imagine anything – interview, big game, presentation). You’re feeling the butterflies, the fear, the anxiety.
Anxiety isn’t all good. It can be debilitating. If not properly managed, it will try to take control. I think one of the most difficult things is that we try to tell ourselves we are not anxious, that we are fine. It’s important to embrace and be aware of our emotions rather than stuffing it into the crowded mental file cabinet. You don’t want too many files in there with anger or anxiety stuffed in the back, because at some point that cabinet will become full and explode.
It is normal to feel a barrage of feelings. It is normal to feel them, deal and cope with them, and then move on. It is healthy to look at how we react and behave and try to be better. Anxiety can push us in a good direction so embrace your anxiety and use it as a tool, not a hammer breaking you down.
*Examples of filtering, mind reading, and catastrophic thinking