Someone once said that being worried is simply a profound lack of imagination.
That rings true to me. Simply put, stress and anxiety are “given life” through the narrowing of one’s perspective. Think about this concept. When your perspective narrows, it becomes much more difficult to see that the future holds a myriad of potential outcomes (while some of us simply fixate on the worst one or two possible outcomes, others see the potential and hope).
To complicate matters, the energy and focus we expend on worry and anxiety bring our narrowed focus exclusively into a future state, so our performance in the present is compromised and quickly deteriorates. And, as our performance in the present deteriorates, our declining performance (input) and continued anxiety about a specific future state increases the likelihood of the future state with which we are most worried.
Often, this cycle is repeated in individuals’ lives to the point that the near constant re-enforcing of the cycle creates a habitual response to any variable that might signal a disruption in the future. In some cases, the power of these cycles (perpetuated by what I call our “bad code”) becomes so pervasive that the anxiety about a future state creates a shadowy perspective about all future states across all contexts and all time (everything is bad, everyone is bad, nothing will go right, etc.). The power of the cycle becomes all encompassing, and the cycle ends in the collapse of perspective and optimism.
Staying present, focusing on the objective at hand, working effectively towards the future, and recognizing that the future hasn’t been written yet are great starts in moving past worry and anxiety. This concept starts with self awareness and moves into the self management process. Without self awareness, we are doomed to continue the cycles that inhibit us from moving forward. Ask yourself, “Is this me”? What should I do about it? What resources are available to support me? Do I want something different for myself? If you do want something different, it’s time to take action.