If you have any form of anxiety, you will know this to be true: everything you do feels like a test. Am I getting away with looking normal? Are people judging me? What if I get it wrong? These are the questions that fill us with doubt and quickly spiral down to our worst fears: what if I am rejected? What if I’m not good enough?
But here’s the thing that people without anxiety know: it’s not a test, it’s just another chance to learn.
Now, let’s be clear here. This revelation isn’t going to change your life in the next 10 seconds - you still have a lot of work to do. However, what this realization does do is open up an opportunity to test your beliefs and begin to free yourself from the anxiety holding you back. And this works whether you have generalized anxiety, social phobia or indeed any anxieties at all.
The World is Your School
We’ve all done school, we all know the power of learning and that anything can be learned. Let’s start with a random question: Why does going to school can make you a better songwriter? Well, no-one is an immediately awesome songwriter. Behind every song, there are lots of discarded earlier versions, binned ideas and poor results. Going to school is a chance to hone the skills a songwriter already has and create something new.
Now let’s think about this in terms of anxiety.
A lot of anxiety comes from a negative assumption about what will happen and, because everything feels like a test, the stakes feel really high. But, just like the songwriter, you might not get the perfect result straight away. So, instead of treating life as a test, turn the idea on it’s head and treat it as a lesson. This isn’t about getting the perfect result but about seeing what happens and learning from your experience.
A behavioral experiment is exactly as it sounds: you decide what your experiment is, note down what your anxious self worries will happen and then write down the results. The key to a behavioral experiment is to challenge a belief you hold that causes moderate anxiety but i