On holiday last week, things didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned. What I learned from the experience has inspired this weeks newsletter…
When we’re anxious it’s often about things that could potentially go wrong in the future. Our imaginations can go haywire as we mentally invent the disasters, mishaps and the strokes of bad luck that could befall us.
Often it’s an overestimation of the risk and an underestimation of our ability to cope when things go wrong that is at the root of our anxiety.
I know that for me, in the past, my way of dealing with things going wrong was to make sure they didn’t happen in the first place.
In relationships, I held myself back, telling myself that if they didn’t know the ‘real me’ I’d be safe from rejection or hurt.
I’d shy away from meeting new people or try to control situations to a ridiculous degree in order to feel safe and avoid making a mistake.
The irony is though, the the more we hold ourselves back, the less likely we are to PROVE to ourselves that even if things do go wrong, we can still cope with them. This essential truth is a huge factor in overcoming anxiety.
Last week while on a blissful yoga holiday in Ibiza (also known for it’s healthy food and yoga as well as it’s wild parties) I had my bag stolen. In this bag I had my passport, cash, cards, keys, watch, ring, phone and my journal in there.
All my prised possessions, my security, gone in a flash.
Now, although this was annoying and an inconvenience, I found that I was ok with it and several people remarked that I was surprisingly chilled out about it.
I believe there were a few mindset shifts that I’ve managed to instil into myself that meant I didn’t see this event as the disaster that I once would have.
The first thing is this: I believe that we are all here to learn and grow as human beings and that things do not happen to us, but for us.
If we can see everything that happens in our lives as an opportunity to learn and develop as people, we can start to see even the ‘bad’ things are benefitting us in some way.
Now, I know there are far worse things that can happen in life than getting your bag stolen, but I wanted to use this as an example and I believe the insights still apply no matter what the situation. (Plus, there’s the fact that most of the things we worry about never end up happening anyway.)
From this experience I learned to appreciate the things I have. I’ve a new appreciation for being able to get money out of the cash machine whenever I want, for having a phone and all my audiobooks on it and for my journal being to hand.
I learned about how amazingly kind, supportive and generous people can be when you really need them, so a big thank you to all my yoga buddies who lent me money and bought me food!
I learned can survive without my iPhone for a week!
From this, I reminded myself that in every difficulty there is a deeper lesson, you just have to look for it.
The mind has this way of finding evidence to support our beliefs. In psychology it’s called ‘confirmation bias’. For example, if we tell ourselves that we are lucky, we’ll notice all the lucky events that turn up. If we tell ourselves that we always see the number 108, we’ll start to notice it everywhere! (seriously, try it!).
So work on shifting your mindset to one of believing that things are happening for your benefit, and notice how your mind finds the reasons why this is true.
Since spending a lot of time indoors making my online programme at the beginning of the year, I’d recently decided to make a conscious effort to get out into the world and do more things.
The more we do, the more we open ourselves us to things potentially being out of our control or not going well. In my case I believe having my bag stolen was to show me that I can cope when things go wrong. And since I found I was able to cope, I feel more confident about trying other things, safe in the knowledge that I’m a resilient and capable person!
And so are you, by the way 😉
So my advice to you is this: get out into the world, get messy, open yourself up to failure, make mistakes and learn from them – because by doing this you learn about your own resilience and ability to cope, you infuse yourself with confidence and self assurance and you live a life that is full and rewarding, even if it’s challenging at times.
Even if things go wrong, you’ll be ok.
I’d love to hear in the comments ‘what are you taking from this article’? What would you like to do that you’ve been holding yourself back from doing, maybe out of fear of something going wrong?
As always I’d be thrilled if you’d shared this article with anyone who may need it.