With Christmas less than a week away, stress is building…relatives are coming into town or you are heading out of town, money could be tight, relationships could be rocky, and well you get the idea. Anxiety mounts!
Anxiety works on an exaggeration. That’s right. It works by feeding it a story that is not true. You tell yourself a story that has no facts or evidence and you begin to believe in it based strictly on the story you created.
A few years ago I had a client that was driving in a rather sever rain storm. As she was driving her car suddenly broke. She was stranded in the storm until. A tow truck came and towed it. She found a ride home and by the time she got home she was wet, but okay. Her car was fixed the next day and all was well.
A few weeks later I found out that she was taking the bus everywhere and where the bus did not run, she would experience horrible anxiety attacks. She would not go places. She quit her job to get a job closer to her house and she refused to go anywhere except for to the corner grocer. If she had to drive further than that, she took a bus or got a ride.
When I saw her she said it has been years since her car broke but she still had the fear of her car breaking. She kept saying, “what if my car breaks in a rain storm and I get stranded again.” I said “well you will get a tow and a ride home like you did last time.”
She panicked stating that felt uncomfortable. I asked her what felt uncomfortable. She said what if a stranger came and got her, or robbed her or what if the car repair cost thousands or what if while she was waiting at the side of the road a car hit her.
Pretty soon she had a series of stories that she created and none of them were based on fact, they were all based on fear. She created her anxiety based on a single event where she didn’t even get hurt or was in harms way.
I asked her to take the time and create a story only based on fact. For her the fact was 2 years ago her car broke in a storm. She was not injured and outside of getting a little wet and delayed about an hour, she was fine. In fact, the car repair didn’t even cost her that much and she had free towing. So those were the facts.
We looked at even more facts. I asked her if her car has broken in the past two years, she said no. I asked her if she sees lots of broken down cars when she is out and about, she said no. So I finally asked her why she creates such a story about getting robbed or hit with a car and she said because she was afraid it could happen again. Once she realized that even if it did happen again, if she stuck to the facts, that she would realize that she would be okay.
Now this didn’t change her overnight, but the more she started sticking to the facts the less the anxiety she experienced. She now can drive to more places she has ever driven.
Facts are important. When we get anxious we begin to create a story that has no facts. We then begin to believe that story we create anxiety.
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