Anxiety is a very sneaky customer. It can creep up on us by starting as a vague sense of uneasiness. It can escalate into a jittery restlessness accompanied by a non-stop stream of thoughts that reinforce and amplify the discomfort.
Anxiety can drop us deep into the well of worry and fear. Sometimes we know exactly what’s troubling us, at other’s we’re haunted by a vague sense of doom that seems to have no specific focus.
Before long, we’re suffering with an ever widening array of disturbing thoughts and feelings.
Let’s rein them in.
The great Roman Stoic philosopher and writer, Seneca the Younger, captured it like this: “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”
Oh, so it’s the awesome power of our thoughts creating our suffering. It’s our thoughts that add insult to injury by dragging us further down the slippery slopes of worry and fear.
Sound familiar, my friends?
Let’s use this to our advantage.
Seneca recommended a practice called “premeditatio malorum,” which means the pre-meditation of evils.
Sounds scary, but stay with me.
In simple terms, it’s all about imagining and visualizing worst-case scenarios. All the details. Every fearful thing that’s stimulating your anxiety or preventing you from taking action.
Let worse case scenario thinking free you from the paralysis of anxiety and fear. And cure an advanced case of suffering.
Sometimes trying to think your way through a problem just doesn’t cut it.
I learned about a written exercise from Tim Ferris he calls “fear-setting.”
It’s a three page exercise that’s kind of like the reverse of goal-setting.
Seemingly counter-intuitive, it’s worth considering this exercise to shift the weather of your emotional climate.
Here’s how Tim Ferris describes this Fear Setting Exercise:
At the top of the first page describe the situation/problem/anxiety/worry.
“What if I …?” This is whatever you fear, whatever is causing you anxiety, whatever you’re putting off. It could be asking someone out, ending a relationship, asking for a promotion, quitting a job, starting a company. It could be anything.
Add 3 columns beneath the description. Title each column like like this: Define | Prevent | Repair
In the first column, “Define,” you’re writing down all of the worst things you can imagine happening if you take that step. You want 10 to 20.
And then you go to the “Prevent” column. In that column, you write down the answer to: What could I do to prevent each of these [things] from happening, or, at the very least, decrease the likelihood even a little bit?
Then we go to “Repair.” So if the worst-case scenarios happen, what could you do to repair the damage even a little bit, or who could you ask for help? So one question to keep in mind as you’re doing this first page is: Has anyone else in the history of time less intelligent or less driven figured this out? Chances are, the answer is “Yes.”
The second page is simple: What might be the benefits of an attempt or a partial success?
You can see we’re playing up the fears and really taking a conservative look at the upside. So if you attempted whatever you’re considering, might you build confidence, develop skills, emotionally, financially, otherwise? What might be the benefits of, say, a base hit? Spend 10 to 15 minutes on this.
Page three might be the most important, so don’t skip it: “The Cost of Inaction.”
Humans are very good at considering what might go wrong if we try something new, say, ask for a raise. What we don’t often consider is the atrocious cost of the status quo — not changing anything. So you should ask yourself, if I avoid this action or decision and actions and decisions like it, what might my life look like in, say, six months, 12 months, three years? Any further out, it starts to seem intangible. And really get detailed — again, emotionally, financially, physically, whatever. And when I did this, it painted a terrifying picture... I realized that inaction was no longer an option for me.
Here’s Tim Ferris in his own words explaining his “fear setting” practice.
It’s worth a listen to open your mind to an alternative way of looking at how to manage your anxieties and fears.
Even if you have lots of fears and worries about losing weight, don’t let them cripple you with anxiety.
Don’t let them stop you from starting. Start and we’ll deal with all of them as they try to sneak in and sabotage your plan.
I’m here to teach you practices and solutions to manage your anxieties on your terms.
Let’s investigate what’s going on for you. Schedule your free Strategy Call with me by clicking right here.
Whatever your anxieties are about weight loss they are manageable. You can emerge a winner.
The days shall pass whether you let me help you or not. So, let me help!