And back up over that shitty emotion, babydoll.
It’s time for you to stop worrying and start living.
And I know what I’m talkin’ bout, Willis. I’ve lived through years of anxiety. But not (so much) anymore.
In his book, Positive Imaging, Norman Vincent Peale writes that another word for worry is “negative imaging.” That is, when we worry, we’re using our imagination but we’re pointing it in the wrong direction.
Instead of seeing fabulous possibilities, we create conditions in which it’s almost certain that the crappy thing we’re worrying about is bound to happen. The Law of Attraction teaches us that whatever we think about becomes reality–our reality. So when you needlessly worry, your worry becomes true for you, even if you’ve completely made it up.
I get it. I’m scared of the dark. Can’t believe I just admitted that to you. But every time I have to get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night (which is pretty frequent now that I’m preggers), I keep thinking of the girl from The Ring, standing in the corner of the room scratching the walls.
True? Heck no. So why am I so scared? Because at 3 am, it’s absolutely true to me.
So I’ve learned to imagine positively. Although I’m not perfect at it, I try to imagine the opposite situation. I think of one of my favorite Pixar movies, Monsters Inc. Instead of a creepy, drowned girl in my bedroom, it’s just a cute, furry, pink monster trying to scare me. But it doesn’t work because I’ve seen the movie and they are adorable.
So here’s the thing. Worry is a completely normal little troll we have in our lives. Everyone experiences it to some degree. But if your anxiety is paralyzing you and it’s detrimental to your health and happiness, then you have to kill that little beast.
Simple Steps to Kill the Anxiety Troll
Give your worry a real image. Think of it as this annoying little troll, gnawing away at you. Really see that stupid little guy in all his troll-like glory: his hair, eye color, warts and all. Now, kick him. That’s right, imagine this little creature is right in front of you and physically lift your leg and kick the air. Imagine that you really are kicking it away from you. This may be weird the first few times, but keep doing it.
Figure out how worry developed for you. I’m guessing that what’s worrying you now didn’t always have a place in your mind. So what happened?
Then, think about what gratuitous place worry holds for you. To some level, worrying can be a satisfying emotion. We tend to hold onto it as a safety blanket.
Stop imagining the worst that can happen. Really stop to think about the situation. What is the reality?
Worry is just our imagination pointed in the wrong direction.
Get yourself an imaginary friend. A spirit guide. Jesus. Buddha. Martha Stewart. Okay, I’m not saying these people aren’t real, but I am asking you to imagine they are standing right next to (and they actually might be. In that case, Hi Martha!).
This strong figure that you imagine standing next to you is here to help you get through whatever it is you’re anxious about. Imagine them protecting you, casting a strong light over you. Or just knocking some sense into you.
Sophie at 3am: There’s a freaky shadow over there in the corner!
Martha: Don’t be silly. It’s just your chair with a blanket draped over it. And that’s a good thing.
My Fear of Public Speaking
I did this little experiment on myself when I was interviewed for a local news segment, and I was worrying about it all week long.
What if I stutter?
What if I say the wrong thing?
What if I have lipstick on my teeth?
What if I can’t pronounce a word?
The day before my interview, I really sat back and assessed the situation. I saw my anxiety as this little demon inside of me, trying to get at my self-confidence with its sharp little claws. I spoke directly to it.
“Dude, I know you have a job to do–cause worry and anxiety. But the thing is, I love what I do. I love helping others find success in their lives. And dammit, I’m good at it! This is a great opportunity for me–you are not going to take it away.”
Seriously, I spoke to it. This was my chihuahua Dobby’s face as I was speaking to myself:
I also asked myself,”When did public speaking become scary for me?” I used to be in plays when I was younger and I loved them! In fact, I wanted to be an actress when I grew up. I danced in front of my school when I ran for Homecoming Queen (and had no shame with Mambo Number 5)! I spoke in court when I was in law school.
I realized that I wasn’t scared of public speaking, but rather, somewhere along the line, I bought into the whole “public speaking is scary” thing. I’ve heard so many people talk about their fear of public speaking that I started to believe in that fear myself. I believed that to be normal, I had to be scared to speak publicly!
Once I came to that realization, the fear started to ebb way. Not to say that my heart didn’t beat a little faster during the interview, but I immediately attributed it to feeling excited instead of scared. In fact, fear and excitement FEEL THE EXACT SAME WAY! You get little butterflies in your stomach! So instead of believing in the hype of fear, anxiety or worry, believe that you are excited!
Finally, I imagined that one of my favorite coaches and mentors, Marie Forleo, was standing by my side. She was telling me that I was great, I had what it takes and that I could do it.
And guess what? I had a blast! I had so much fun during my interview that it renewed my energy and I was ready to jump on another show if they had just asked me!
What evil, little anxiety troll has been keeping you back from reaching your full potential?
To kill it, publicly state it below.