Did you know that your anxiety often comes in predictable patterns? The good news is this- Anxiety Patterns can be broken and overcome.
What you fear goes deep into your memory and it takes practice to learn to overcome it. It takes practice to recognize irrational anxiety patterns, and today you can choose new, healthier responses to those panic and anxiety triggers.
Let me give you a recent example of this in my life…
It is 5pm on Saturday night and I am going to meet friends from work out for dinner. After that we are going bowling. The old memories I have of my severe social anxiety have been floating around in my head this afternoon. It has been the challenge of the day to recognize these old anxiety patterns and keep my thoughts positive and rational.
Memory tells me that I should be afraid- what if I have a panic attack? What if I become tongue tied? what if a million bad things?
And I’m bringing my husband tonight, which to the anxious mind means added pressure. So much social pressure to fit in and look ok. What if I’m not ok?
And then I remember to stop looking around me. I remember to look up and say a humble prayer of thanks for how far I’ve come in my anxiety recovery.
Thank you Lord, for this wonderful opportunity to be out with friends on a Saturday. This is something I used to only dream about when I was in the depths of my social anxiety and panic attacks misery. I never socialized, unless heavily medicated.
Thank you Lord for the kind people I surround myself with today. What a healthy choice! I no longer choose to be socially engaged with catty women who act like high school mean girls.
I know I will be ok. Sure I may feel a bit anxious, but I know in my heart that no one will be judging me. Everyone who is meeting out tonight is good people. We are just having some food, fun, and laughs. I don’t have to make this bigger than it is.
Oh in the past how I would blow something like this massively out of proportion. I would fret about everything- the seating, the exit, who would I talk to, what would I talk about, what if I had a panic attack, etc. etc. What if I made a complete fool out of myself. Would these people judge me and laugh at me behind my back?
Thank you Lord that I have been out with friends at work a bunch of times now. Every time it gets easier. Truly it is a challenge, but truly I am so happy to be going!
I am so damn proud that I am bringing my husband too. He is a good man, and I want him to meet the people I work with. I am proud of him too, and want my new friends to meet and get to know him.
Thank you Lord for helping me to recognize my old negative thought patterns and not indulge them. Oh my memory so wanted to take over today and make this outing into a horrible anxious ordeal. I refuse to let my anxious thinking get the better of me. I will stay present and happy and grateful.
In the grand scheme of life this night will be soon forgotten. But within the context of learning how to live a full and happy life in my anxiety recovery, this night is an important step. It is yet one more instance where I am using gentle exposure therapy in a situation (going out with friends) that once paralyzed me with social anxiety and panic.
But I also know I will not have to leave. I know that is all bad memories too. I am rewriting the script of my life day by day, hour by hour.
It is the next morning and everything was good. I had so much fun! It was a lovely evening, and I am so happy I didn’t sabotage it by listening in to those old memories and giving in to irrational anxious thoughts.
One more notch in my belt…. Jill scores! Anxiety, you lose again!
This was not hard work, this was a joy! Taming my thinking beforehand truly was the hardest part. So grateful I went!
Can you recognize in your life that very often when you feel anxious and panicky it is a pattern? Does it make sense that when the same fear comes up again and again, it is because it is so closely linked with your memory?
Do you think you can start to monitor your thoughts before a situation, like I have done above, to help you stay calm and focused? Can you see how a little work and diligence before an event can help you to face it with just a little less fear and anxiety?
And finally, can you see how doing this again and again in your life will break old anxiety patterns and create a new, healthier behavior pattern?
I wish you peace,