Your What-Ifs Keep You Stuck, Not Safe
Telling an anxious person to stop worrying is like telling a depressed person to be happy. It’s never that easy to calm our heads and hearts.
Even when we recognize our worries are illogical and our what-ifs are worst-case scenarios, this awareness doesn’t make the fear any less real. Anxiety isn’t based on the concern something awful will happen anyway, but instead on the insecurity that if it does, you won’t be able to handle it.
The anxious mind thinks it’s safer to predict every possible outcome so at least you can prepare for it. There’s a famous Benjamin Franklin quote: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” These words are the mantra of an anxious mind.
We trick ourselves into believing that by worrying about something, we are working towards it even when we haven’t taken any concrete action. Worrying isn’t preparing but over-preparing. It’s not a product of thinking but the price you pay for over-thinking.
We hope to keep ourselves safe by weighing all of our options and their possible outcomes, but instead, we keep ourselves stuck. We think through everything but do nothing.
The only way out of this mental trap is through action, by making a decision and taking your first step in that direction. Start by asking yourself one simple question.
If I had no fear, what would I do today?
By answering honestly, you will see where fear is holding you back. You might be waiting until you feel ready to work towards your goals. You might think it’s wise to practice in private until you’re sure you won’t fail in public. The truth is you’ll never be sure. You’ll never reach a point in your life where you are fail-proof.
Failure is the flip side of success. You have to risk things going wrong to give yourself a chance at them going right. In fact, the sooner things go wrong, the better.
If your anxiety centers around the fear of embarrassing yourself, then find out what happens when you do. If you are intimidated by how you might feel when people judge you, then you will have your answer as soon as that happens.