Future Thinking – The Ultimate Form of Self-Sabotage

by Dr. Rob Lancer

No one possesses the absolute power to see into the future. For some, life’s uncertainties creates exciting anticipation of upcoming vacations or social events. At times, though, anticipation turns into anxiety, such as before an important presentation or social engagement.

When people are faced with challenges, whether at work, school, or at home, uncertainty can create anticipatory anxiety. Of course, people often feel anxious before an important presentation or job interview, but they can work through their apprehension and accept it as this type of stress and a minor part of life. Other times, the “Anxious Mind” intensifies uncertainty and doubt, creating enormous levels of anticipatory anxiety and causing the person to feel overwhelmed. When this happens, it turns every day into a perceived challenge. As a result, the feared event comes to the “Anxious Mind” and causes the person to experience such intense anticipatory anxiety that they have the tendency to bail out and avoid the situation at all cost. These instances occur not only at school or work, but in social situations as well. There is a reason why people say, DzMy anxiety got the best of me.”

People who struggle with anxiety experience ferocious jolts to the nervous system instead of normal pre-game jitters.It is impossible for anyone to precisely and accurately predict the future. By backing down to anticipatory anxiety, you are allowing it to win and getting caught in the vicious cycle. Without facing this anxiety, no matter how great or small, a person never challenges and learns the truth about anticipatory anxiety. Thus, irrational beliefs form and the fear of the unknown becomes iengrained in a person’s mind. Ultimately, this creates an ongoing precedence for increased fear, anxiety, and avoidance.

The only distinction between the average person and the anxious mind when it comes to anticipatory anxiety is the frequency and the intensity of its occurrence. When a person is anxious, they tend to try to control all variables so they can attempt to direct the outcome. The Anxious Mind usually leads a person to feel that only the worst will come out of any anticipated circumstance. The driving force behind anticipatory anxiety is that an anxious person has a very low tolerance for the uncertain. For them, uncertainty is one of, if not the greatest, obstacle they face in life. It is very hard for the Anxious Mind to accept that uncertainty is a part of life.

No one has a full guarantee about waking up tomorrow. It is easier for the average person to understand this, but people with anxiety try to cover all the possibilities in any given situation. But, ironically, the more a person tries to gain control over life’s inevitable uncertainties, the more anxiety that occurs, eventually spiraling out of control. Thus, the person avoids certain social or work related situations because the “Anxious Mind” has led them to the false danger and negative perception of engaging in an event before the event even happens.

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