Monthly Archives: December 2012

4 Beliefs About Anxiety That Hinder Our Progress In Life

As I was writing this week’s blog post, I didn’t realize how much these ideas apply to my own life.

My hope is that you will be greatly encouraged and inspired by the tips I’m providing today.  As we address these limiting beliefs – and the ideas on how to overcome them – we can all make greater progress each day.

I don’t think that we can really move forward in life if we don’t take a bit of time to acknowledge our battle with fear and anxiety.

As we acknowledge these feelings and struggles, we can begin to overcome these negative emotions more effectively.

Let’s proceed with these four erroneous beliefs…

Treating anxiety as a “taboo” type of emotion

Many cultures naturally value things like strength, beauty, success, the “good life” and “having it all together.”

We tend to treat things like weaknesses, character flaws, unsettling emotions, and life’s trials and tribulations with disdain.

This includes the emotions of fear or anxiety.  We treat it as a type of “disorder.” It’s almost as if it’s the type of feeling we should not experience or feel on a regular basis.  If we admit it, we appear to be weak or somehow deficient in life.

Webster’s English Dictionary defines “taboo” as “a religious or social prohibition.”  In many ways, I think the feeling of generalized anxiety or anxiety disorder is treated as something we are not allowed to acknowledge, experience, or battle with.

Have you ever told yourself that you should not experience anxiety?  If you have ever done so, chances are very good that you have struggled to make any sort of progress to overcome it.

When you begin to acknowledge your emotions, struggles, and challenges in life, you have an excellent starting point to do something about it.

If you have ever had an anxious episode, remember that you were able to get through it before, and that you will get through it again.

Think about your past challenges for a moment.  You likely faced events and circumstances that were difficult.  You not only made it through these painful experiences, but you also became stronger because of them.

Treating anxiety as an abnormal emotion

When many of us face our fears and anxiety in life, I think it’s most natural for us to tell ourselves:

“I’m all alone in this.  Others do not experience this issue or problem.  What’s wrong with me?”

How can we begin to challenge or overcome this negative belief about anxiety?

Recognize that there are many people who battle with anxiety.  Fear is sometimes a natural consequence in life.  Anxiety is a type of emotion that seems to occur whether we like it or not.

It’s how we respond to our initial thoughts of fear and the anxious feelings that we have that makes the difference.

There are many famous people who have dealt with discouragement, anxiety, and depression in their lives.  They experienced setbacks, rejections, and disappointments, yet they didn’t quit or give up on their dreams in life.  They kept on trying and persevering through the obstacles they faced, and they became successful.

Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill are two outstanding examples of the power of not giving up.  They both overcame many heartaches and defeats in their own lives to lead their countries effectively and courageously.

We can all be sure that many of the most important people who influenced our lives faced things like fear and anxiety.  Yet they did not consider it to be “abnormal.”  They faced their fears in life and made a great contribution to our lives and the world around them.

Believing That Anxiety is a Character Flaw

When we “buy in” to this belief about anxiety (in whatever form it may be), it really hinders and limits us in life.

I like Susan Jeffers’ book called “Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway.”  In one of her five truths about fear, she says “Not only am I going to experience fear when I’m on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else.”

It’s sad because it’s easy to personalize any battle with anxiety.  We end up talking ourselves out of stepping out of our individual comfort zones – and taking action on our goals in life.

I have thought of anxiety as a character flaw. Maybe this could be traced back to my childhood when people were taunted and labeled as a “scaredy-cat” in the school yard at recess.

Unfortunately, we can all end up carrying around past labels that are neither accurate nor truthful.  As I look back on both my accomplishments and failures in life, I realize that being anxious or fearful is not a character flaw, but is part of life.

As the Susan Jeffers’ truth about fear tells us, we all face fear when we’re on unfamiliar territory.  In that case, we should really let ourselves off the hook – and not label ourselves as “cowards” or “scaredy-cats.”

We need to replace our erroneous beliefs we have about ourselves.  One of the best ways is to use and refer to positive affirmations, and practice our faith (if we have a particular spiritual perspective).

Some of my favourite affirmations are:

  • “I respect my abilities and always work to my full potential.”
  • “I live each day with passion and purpose.”
  • “I am committed, determined, and passionate about what I do.”
  • “I have tremendous energy and focus for achieving all of my goals.”

When you begin to build upon thoughts about yourself that give you courage and strength, you are well on your way to overcome your feelings of anxiety and despair.

Your thoughts about yourself, your world, and life in general lead to your feelings, behaviours and results in life. There is a direct link and correlation.

Viewing Anxiety as an Overpowering Emotion

When we view anxiety as “overpowering”, it becomes a rather debilitating emotion.  As a result, it’s natural to think “Well, I knew I couldn’t successfully battle or overcome this fear.  Why bother trying?”

If we accept this type of thinking, we begin to believe that we will never overcome or handle anxiety in our daily lives.

Sometimes our expectations in life are way too unrealistic.  We all need to be more realistic with ourselves, the people around us, and with life in general.

For instance, if you do have a battle with anxiety, remember that it’s your attempts in life that make the difference – even more so than the results you experience.

When you decide to try something new (such as address and conquer fear in your life), give yourself permission to fail or fall short.  You will have moments of success in this battle, and you will have setbacks.

Unmet expectations are a reality.  Life is made up of experiences where we grow, learn, succeed, experience obstacles, face setbacks and failures, persevere, gain wisdom, and then succeed again.

Don’t give up on yourself after an anxious episode or setback in life.  Make the attempt more important than the result.

Develop the habit of always treating yourself with care, compassion, and respect.  This is a piece of advice I wish I had followed years ago.  It makes me wonder how much further ahead in life I would be now.  Today is my new opportunity to hopefully make a difference in my life, and hopefully your life, and the world around us.

In summary, here are four tips or ideas that have helped me in my struggle with anxiety.  My hope is that the following ideas will be valuable and encouraging for you:

  • Instead of viewing anxiety as an emotion you “should not” experience, acknowledge your feelings and struggles with this emotion.
  • Remember that many others struggle with anxiety and fear – and that it’s how we respond to our anxious thoughts that makes the difference.
  • Rather than view anxiety as a “character flaw”, use affirmations (or your faith perspective) to build a truthful and positive view of yourself
  • View your struggles with anxiety as a challenge to overcome (and not as something you will “never” conquer).

I like the quote from William J. Lock in the image below, which says “I believe that half of the unhappiness in life comes from people being afraid to go straight at things.”

My hope is that today’s post has encouraged you to face any fears or obstacles in your life with courage and determination.

Until my next post, have a great day.

fear and inaction 4 Beliefs About Anxiety That Hinder Our Progress In Life

4 Steps To Deal Effectively With Anticipatory Anxiety

Do you ever feel anxious about upcoming events? Are there duties, obligations, or things that need to be done that you dread?

Many of us get an uneasy feeling about today’s challenges, obstacles, and difficulties.  For instance, you may have a certain amount of dread if you need to deal with a difficult person, situation, or event.

With today’s post, I’d like to encourage and help you with 4 practical steps you can take when you face anticipatory anxiety.

Try to Pinpoint Your Actual Fear

Are you about to make a presentation at work or school?  Do you have a speech to make? Are you dreading an upcoming interaction with your boss or a difficult co-worker?  Are you facing a difficult issue with someone that could escalate into a big argument?

These are a few types of scenarios in which anticipatory anxiety can kick into high gear.  Before you attend to this difficult or challenging activity, it’s difficult to stay focused.

Personally, I experience my own dread of upcoming events.  It distracts me from the things I need to get done before they even happen. That is the folly of living in the unknown future.

If you ever tell yourself, “I can’t handle this”, how do you know? Try to pinpoint the cause of your anxiety.  What is it that you actually fear?

In a lot of scenarios, we fear rejection, disapproval, embarrassment, the hostility of others, “not measuring up” to someone’s standards (in our work and personal lives),…and likely quite a few more fears.

As you narrow down your anticipatory anxiety, you’re taking a crucial step to deal with this hindering emotion effectively.

Recognize that Your Fear has No Basis in Reality

If you’re facing an upcoming social event, you may not know many of the people attending.  The reality is that there will be someone there who will like or connect well with you, and you may encounter someone else who doesn’t like or approve of you or your ideas.

That’s part of life.  We all meet people we don’t “connect” well with, due to things like age, background and personalities.

Everyone faces disapproval or rejection.  The key is to not personalize it.  These experiences do not reflect things like your personal worth, your value as a human being, or your potential in life.

In the past, I’ve made the poor choice of “personalizing” the times others have criticized me, tried to tear me down to their level, or when they have labeled me.  I have “personalized” it by letting their opinions or actions to negatively impact my self-image.

Here’s a second example.  If you have a fear of flying, the odds are overwhelming that you won’t die in a plane crash.

I heard once that the odds of winning the lottery (which are very small) are better than experiencing an air disaster. If you take a few minutes to think back and journal about “catastrophic events” that you have worried about, you will discover that there are many things that never took place.

The next time you start to dread an upcoming event, this tip is well worth remembering.  It’s one that I wish I had the habit of practicing in my own life.

Recall Past Events When You Faced the Fear, Did it Anyway, and Survived

One of my most valuable documents is a computer filed that I called “Top 15 Achievements.”

Having some accomplishments is not unique.  My achievements are unique to me, and you have unique ones as well.  Take a few minutes and think about some good things you have achieved.  There are things in your own life that you should be proud of.

When I reviewed my ”top 15″ document this morning, I was reminded of past achievements in which I had to overcome challenges and difficulties.

When you review some of your own stories of success, you will also recognize that you faced obstacles that you were able to overcome.  You may have faced opposition, criticism, and naysayers as you accomplished your goals.

You will also recall times where you took steps outside of your comfort zone, had a few setbacks, tried again, and achieved your dream.  You faced the fear, did it anyway, and survived.

The next time you encounter the self-doubt and anticipatory anxiety, refer back to your own “top achievements.”  These events give you clear evidence that you can move outside your comfort zone, face your fears, and become successful with your goals in life.

Monitor Your Self-Talk Carefully

With a fear of failure, I found it easy to project these negative thoughts about failure or “falling short” to the day ahead. I have often thought “What if I can’t accomplish my goals? What if I don’t have the talents, skills, or characteristics for success?  What if I experience failures or setbacks?”

All kinds of scenarios about a negative outcome tend to “invade my mind.”  If I’m not careful, I can easily get “caught up” in a lot of self-doubt and fear of failure. If I think about becoming successful, I’ll ask myself “What if I can’t handle it?”

I am now constantly re-orienting myself to think about the rewards of success, rather than the penalties of failure.  This is from one of my favourite pieces of advice from Brian Tracy.

I use and refer to affirmations now on a daily basis.  Fortunately, I have noticed a positive change in my thoughts, feelings and behaviours with this new habit.

There are certain types of thoughts that will help you succeed. For instance, you will make greater progress in life with thoughts that affirm your worth and value, ones which encourage you to go after your goals in life, and ones which reassure you of your capability in life.

There are also other types of thoughts that discourage you from taking a chance, leave you feeling powerless to change, and ones which make you feel sad, anxious and hopeless.

What types of thoughts will you choose?  Monitor your self-talk.  What types of messages do you tell yourself?  Begin to think wisely and accurately - you are worthwhile, capable, deserving of good things, and that you can become successful, happier and more productive.

Refer to affirmations for encouragement, and begin to question the validity and truthfulness of your past labels. You will discover that these labels have no factual basis.  Your past labels can hold you back in life, but only if you allow them to. Remember that there is a definite link between your thoughts, actions, and results in life.

Yesterday, I was doing a bit of research for today’s blog post.  I came across an interesting site that talks about automatic thoughts.  It has some very valuable points and is well worth checking out. Here is the link:

http://www.get.gg/docs/AutomaticThoughts.pdf

This is a site that talks about cognitive behaviour.  One of the main premises from this field of psychology is that our thoughts (or “cognitions”) help determine our feelings and behaviour in life.

You can save a copy of this pdf or Adobe file.  If you don’t have adobe, you can get a free copy of this program on your site from Adobe’s website:

http://get.adobe.com/reader

My hope is that you will monitor, choose, and develop the type of thinking that will help you achieve your dreams.

Here is a quick summary of my four tips to deal effectively with anticipatory anxiety:

  • Try to pinpoint your actual fear
  • Recognize that your fear has no basis in reality
  • Recall past events when you faced the fear, did it anyway, and survived
  • Monitor your self-talk carefully

I like the quote from Ray Bradbury in the image below, which says:

“Life is trying things to see if they work.”

My hope is that today’s post has encouraged you to keep trying and persisting with your goals and dream in life.

Until my next post, have a great day.

Try 4 Steps To Deal Effectively With Anticipatory Anxiety

5 Key Components of Mental Well-Being

I can’t claim to be a mental health professional, but my hope is that I can give you five helpful ideas with today’s blog post.

Of course, there are more than five components, ideas, or tips that you could follow for a great quality of life.

With my ideas today, my main purpose is to inspire and encourage you.

These tips are ones that each of us can take action on.  In my own battles in the past with anxiety and depression, I think these tips would have helped me.

Let’s move on to today’s five tips.

Discover Your Main Purpose and Develop Some Goals that Would Fulfill that Purpose

Your main purpose doesn’t need to be complicated. 

There are many resources that will help you discover what your main life’s mission would be.

In Jack Canfield’s book called “The Success Principles”, he provides excellent guidance in helping us define our purpose with his second principle called “Be Clear Why You’re Here.”

I would encourage you to get a copy of this great book.  It’s available on Amazon.com.

I was able to come up with my own purpose or mission statement.  I wrote it on an index card:

My purpose is to use my creativity and love of learning in business and personal development areas of life to encourage and inspire others to reach their potential in living a life of purpose, joy, and freedom.

I recognize that I should review it more often.  There are some days when I lose sight of my main purpose, along with my main goals that fulfill this purpose.  I have begun to recognize my own need a daily source of inspiration and encouragement in my own life.

Develop Your Own Bias for Action Each Day

One of my favourite quotes about the topic of taking action is from the great Italian painter, Leonardo da Vinci:

Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind

I believe that one of the biggest hindrances to mental well-being is the feeling of listlessness.

In the past, when I felt lethargic, it tended to be from my lack of purpose or goals for my life.  It contributed to my feelings of discouragement and depression.

Having a purpose statement and sets of goals is a good start.  What really makes a difference is when you take action on your objectives in life.

You begin to feel better about yourself and about life when you develop this bias for action every day.  Even one small step in the right direction makes a difference.

Please be encouraged to take a step every day in the direction of your biggest goal.  At the end of the day, you’ll be glad that you did.

Write Out and Review a Daily Gratitude List

This is one tip or component that I often forget to do.

The practice of daily gratitude has a profound effect upon our mood and attitude in life.

It’s easy to focus on negative aspects of life.  The weather may be gloomy.  We tend to think about the things we lack in life.

Someone once said (or wrote) that we often forget the things we ought to remember, and remember the things we ought to forget.

What would happen if you took a bit of time to make a list of good things or blessings that you do have in life?  If you’re reading this, you have access to a computer or laptop.  If you enjoy good physical health, count another blessing.

You may live in country where you have the blessings of peace instead of war.  You have some time freedom to pursue your goals.  You may be fortunate enough to have family that you have good relationships with, friends that you enjoy spending time with.

It’s easy to forget good parts of our lives when we face obstacles or challenges.

That’s why the practice or habit of daily gratitude is so important.

In my Google search on “the habit of gratitude”, I found an interesting resource with the first result.  This resource, by Deborah Franks, has some valuable tips.  Here is a link to her document called “Accessing The Power of Gratitude”:

http://teacherslifecoach.com/uploads/PowerofGratitude.pdf 

Let’s quickly move on to a fourth valuable component of mental well-being…

Monitor and Carefully Choose the Thoughts That You Dwell Upon

On a recent holiday, I remember reading a quote in a café that said “Don’t believe everything you think.”

This is wise advice.

If we all decided to consciously and wisely choose the thoughts that we dwell upon, the quality of life that we all have would improve.

For instance, it’s easy to get trapped in ”cycle” of thoughts that make us feel worried, anxious, discouraged, or depressed.

It’s important to evaluate the types of thoughts that you choose to dwell upon.  At the end of the day, if you chose to think about your potential, your goals, and possibilities in life (instead of your problems), you would be more productive, enthusiastic, and energetic.

A major feature of positive or productive thinking is to live your life in the present.  Many of us tend to either regret the past, or worry about the future and the things that we cannot control in life.

Rather than live in the unchangeable past, or the unknown future, begin to think about how you can make the most of each present moment.

When you’re tempted to worry about the things you can’t control in life, here’s a good question to think about:

What can I do in this moment- to help me achieve one of my goals?

Let’s move on to my fifth idea or component:

Choose Your Influences Wisely

We are all influenced in many ways by television and print media, the Internet and the people that we associate with.

If you’re not careful, these types of things and people may “bring you down”, lead you away from your goals, or affect your mental well-being.

For instance, if you have a friend who treats you badly and makes you feel inferior in some way, why maintain this relationship?

We are all better off when we make good choices in life.

What you allow into your mind will influence your day.  It can either lead you to a path of growth, development and progress for your life or your goal, or it can distract you, hinder your progress, and derail your goals and dreams.

With the “influencing factors” I listed above, I hope that you will choose wisely.  Your mental well-being and quality of life is too important to ignore.

When I have neglected the five ideas above, my results in life were not good.

My hope that you will use these ideas above to achieve your goals and dreams in life.

Here is a quick summary of my five components or tips for mental well-being:

I like the quote from Henri Frederic Amiel in the image below, which says:

“The man who has no inner life is the slave of his surroundings.”

Until my next post, have a great day.

inner life quote 5 Key Components of Mental Well Being

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