I was talking to a friend the other day about how we perceive things versus how they actually are, especially in regards to how we predict we’d deal with emotional pain. Not a super cheery subject I have to admit, but at the same time it ended up being a little encouraging in a lot of ways. The conclusion we came to was that we all tend to predict we’ll handle emotional pain worse than we actually would. We’re more adaptable than we think, that doesn’t mean we’re not affected by these feelings, but we’re more resilient to them.
I likened this phenomenon to anxiety disorder, and the anticipation that leads up to a moment we’re expecting to face a trigger. Working yourself up into a panic, maybe even into genuine fear, in the lead up to a triggering event is probably the single most difficult part about anxiety. That’s good news, though it may not feel like it.
When you’re overcoming your anxieties you have to put yourself in the situations that cause the anxiety, and that’s never not scary. But the worst part is that first step, actually putting yourself in the situations you’re anxious about. You think about all the ways it can go wrong, how you’ll panic, or look stupid, or whatever negative thoughts are going through your head. But the truth is once you make it past that step, once you’ve made it outside your comfort-zone and see that these thoughts are not true, things start getting easier.
Our brains are very good at coming up with the worst-case scenario for a given situation, maybe it’s some kind of survival instinct. The truth is, things very rarely go the way we expect, and that goes even more for our anxieties and phobias. Knowing this doesn’t make it easier, but it’s another positive thought to focus on when we’re struggling to get through whatever challenges we face.