DEALING WITH ANICIPATORY ANXIETY
It is normal and natural to anticipate. We anticipate a get together over the weekend, an upcoming vacation or going to a long awaited movMie premier. The list goes on and on. However, it becomes a problem when the anticipation is one of foreboding, worry, uneasiness and/or anxiety. Hence the label, “Anticipatory Anxiety”. You may be one of many people struggling with an underlying anxiousness that something will happen in an unknown future that will put you or a loved one in harms way. It is that sense of personal powerlessness to deal with such events that can keep you in an uncomfortable state of worry. Many people report that they don’t know where these feelings come from but anything new to be faced can bring for them uneasiness, fear and/or anxiety.
However, more often than not, anticipatory anxiety can surface as a result of something or someone from your past adversely affecting you . You may not be aware of this connection with your past but it can certainly act as a trigger for your attitude and belief about future results. Though you may not have a direct memory of the past repeating itself in the future, it can condition you into thinking that the world can be a scary place and you need always to be on guard. Coupled with this, you can give yourself messages that you are not smart enough, motivated enough, strong enough to deal appropriately with life events.
MEDITATION AS A TECHNIQUE
You often hear that breathing exercises or various forms of meditation can bring you positive results. However, many people report that they have tried these various breathing techniques and those techniques don’t seem to work for them. What many people fail to realize is that implementing a deep breathing exercise only when they are in the mist of feeling overwhelmed is of little use. They fail to realize that proper breathing exercises should be implemented even when there is no evidence of stress. In this way proper breathing will be a matter of habit and will automatically kick in should worrisome feelings surface. Remember proper breathing needs to originate from the diaphragm and not the lungs in order to derive the full benefits. The diaphragm is located between the chest and the abdominal cavity of the body. That being said you should also understand that deep breathing exercises or meditation may not be for you. Some people don’t have the personality or disposition to feel comfortable going this route.
Does that mean all is lost. Not at all. There are other things you may want to try that will help with dealing more effectively with anticipatory anxiety,
1.) Understand that nothing materializes out of a vacuum. If you are experiencing anticipatory anxiety, it did not just materialize out of nowhere. You may want to begin by reflecting on possible origins of your way of thinking. Being aware of your past and how it influences your attitude toward future events can be enlightening enough for you to make a shift in your thoughts and behaviors.
2.) When you’re facing a potentially uncomfortable future event, think about how similar events in your past went well. Then focus on those good feelings you experienced and understand and feel that those good feelings can indeed be repeated.
Comments, questions and other ideas can be directed to Ray Shocki PhD, LMFT, LCSW at firstname.lastname@example.org