Managing short-term anxiety

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Although, anxiety can be an overwhelming and paralyzing deterrent to concentrating effectively, it is not beyond our control. Anxiety results when there is a strong emotional surge to escape from a particularly unpleasant situation, but when escaping seems impossible or too difficult, so that one is left to feel overwhelmingly insecure (anticipation of danger and feeling of powerlessness). It is the state of feeling vulnerable, the feeling that something bad may happen or is happening. 

A person may become anxious because they are uncertain about their safety or about the safety and security of their loved ones. With the feelings of anxiety comes a sense of vulnerability. A person feels vulnerable, as though they are about to experience an unbearable emotional or physical pain, and therefore feels a need to defend or protect themselves. If we don’t feel insecure, then there is no need to be anxious. Shy, self-conscious, and neurotic people get anxious. 

When we feel that we may be rejected, despised, endangered, or attacked, we develop the feelings of anxiety. A good example is a man who is driving an automobile at a high speed, and later comes to discover that he is driving with a dysfunctional brake. Fear of humiliation, exposure, degradation, and ridicule can constitute anxiety feelings. Anxiety is a limiting and negative emotion, which if absolutely overcome will open the door to bliss. The more anxious you are, the less happy you are.

The only logical way to deal with short-term anxiety is to face one’s fear and endure the emotional or physical pain associated with such courage, while making an effort to accomplish one’s goal. Cowering should never be an option. Yuri is a boy who is about to go for a musical audition. He attends the venue and goes into a room full of hundreds of other people who are also registered for the auditioning. He plays beautiful music and his family tells him so. But his envious classmates at school always belittled his musical talent, which consequently led to him having a false idea about his wonderful talent.

Even though his family encouraged him, he never truly believed he was good enough. Though, he knew he had talent, he just couldn’t help but flash back to those moments he was told he wasn’t good enough. Perhaps this is the case because his family didn’t give him enough encouragement to counteract the discouragement he had received from his peers, perhaps not. For some reason (maybe because of the power of psychological defense mechanism) the mind chooses caution most times over encouragement. 

Entering the room only to see many other people preparing to be auditioned, intense anxiety shot up within him like a flash of lightning. Subconsciously, he was having the feeling that he would not make the grade. The anxiety endured while he stayed in that room. And at the moment he was called in to be auditioned, the anxiety escalated, paralyzed him, and made him perform woefully. His performance was not a measure of his true ability, but his beliefs and expectations had impaired his ability. 

While it is very possible that Yuri has what it takes to excel and surpass many, if not all, of those who came in for the audition, he let negative thinking paralyze him. He did not focus on the positive words of his family, but instead dwelt on the negative remarks of his peers. That is what happens to so many of us. We have the potential to do exceedingly great things, but we let the negative words of other people get to us, deter us, and paralyze us from performing as highly as we ought to. 

It is not good to focus on our discouraging past experiences or the negative words of other people- although I know it isn’t quite easy to encourage oneself. Despite those discouraging words, we can always do our very best and present the products of our painstaking effort. Even though we are told that our diligent presentations are not good enough, we can always keep trying, putting in effort, and putting ourselves up for more presentations, until we get it right. 

Negative words shouldn’t stop us from developing ourselves. What good is it if we stop developing ourselves? There is no joy in mediocrity. There is great joy in pulling through irrespective of the obstacles that come your way. Problems are not roadblocks; problems are meant to be solved. Limitations are not blockades; limitations are meant to be surpassed. Failure is not a disaster; instead, it provides the opportunity to be efficient. Therefore, do not settle in mediocrity; strive to shine brighter than the sun.