We’ve all been there – palms sweating, heart pounding, and mind racing.
Even when we should be asleep, we find ourselves staring at the ceiling, thinking about what might happen if I do this or what might be the result if I do that.
Sometimes it gets so bad that it can force us into the worst decision of all—inaction. We feel stuck. Frozen.
Now, there are certain degrees of anxiety and it’s different for everyone, but at its core, anxiety is just one of the many masks of fear.
I’m sure you’ve heard all the little acronyms that are supposed to make you feel better about fear, like False Evidence Appearing Real. Or the inspirational quotes that supposedly make it easier to deal with like, “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.”
Thankfully, I have uncovered the secret to successfully dealing with fear so that when it pops up—even at 3am—I’m able to knock it down.
Do you want to know what it is? Are you ready? Here goes…
How to Get Rid of Anxiety
I’ve learned to overcome fear and get rid of anxiety by doing one simple thing: examining exactly what fear is.
Sounds simple, right? I’ve said before that something that is simple isn’t always easy, and that’s certainly the case with this. Here’s why.
We become irrational in the face of fear because our minds give a body and a presence to fear.
It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when I was afraid of public speaking. I felt compelled to be on a stage and yet I was terrified. The anxiety would start creeping in days before a booking. If I had something scheduled for Saturday, by the Wednesday before I wouldn’t be able to eat anything. Even in advance I was that scared. So I began to dissect it.
In The Noticer, Jones deals with a man who is swept up in fear. He’s been fired several times because he couldn’t overcome his fear. He is divorced and during one of the last conversations he had with his wife, she said, “I cannot live the rest of my life with the guy who believes that the sky is falling.”
Jones explains to him that you can seek the truth about what you’re afraid of—the truth of what fear is—and that will set you free.
What it comes down to is this: fear is actually a vapor, a mist; it doesn’t really exist.
Fear is nothing in the world but a misuse of the creative imagination that has been placed inside of you.
That’s right, your imagination drives your fear. And the exciting part is that when you examine fear and really identify it, you do three things:
1. You Unlock Your Confidence
Getting to the heart of what fear is gives you an immediate confidence boost. Why? Because the recognition of this powerful, creative imagination inside of you is proof that you were put here to do great things.
The most successful people in any type of business are people who have great imaginations. They can imagine every angle, every piece, every outcome, and they can see the next move before it happens. They can think their way out of a problem. They’re creative, they’re intelligent, and their minds work non-stop.
They have found a way to utilize their imagination to work toward their goals instead of using it to feed their fear.
You may be thinking, I don’t know that I have a great imagination.
Listen, if you struggle with fear in any area of life, I promise you’ve got a great imagination for one reason: you’re picturing a future that doesn’t even exist.
Now that you know you do have a great imagination, isn’t it time you put it to good use?
2. You Recognize the Effect Fear Has on Your Life
Once you’ve determined fear is nothing but the misuse of the creative imagination that has been placed inside of you, you can break it down even more to see how it affects your daily life.
In The Noticer, Jones refers to a study of what’s really happening during our episodes of stress and anxiety. He explains that:
- 40% of what you worry about will never happen.
- 30% has already happened and is in the past.
- 12% has to do with totally needless imaginings.
- 10% involves petty little things about what other people think.
- 8% is left for legitimate concerns that we mostly have control over, but we’re using all our energy worrying about the other things.
If you’re always anxious or worried about what will or won’t happen, you’re going to be so consumed with scenarios that will never happen that you won’t have the emotional, intellectual, or physical energy to deal with the situations that you can handle.
By calculating the odds of an event actually occurring (and in most cases eliminating the remote possibility of it happening in your life) you can deflect your subconscious and defeat negative thinking. This frees your mind to do two things:
- Picture exactly what you want to happen (instead of focusing on what you don’t want)
- Take the necessary steps to make it real
3. You Can Redirect Your Imagination
My son Adam has a phenomenal imagination. I remember when he was younger, the first time he was invited to a sleepover at a friend’s house he was scared.
He asked me why he was scared and I told him, “Adam, the reason you’re scared is because you’re thinking about things like, What if I want to come home, What if I don’t like the food, What if…?
He was misusing his imagination, right?
So I continued. “What you want to do is direct your imagination to what makes you happy.”
I told him to think about the fun aspects of the experience:
Will there be a campfire? My best four best buddies will be there. We had such a great time in two hours together, now we’re going to spend 12 hours together, we’ll have six times the fun. I wonder if we’ll get to fish? Will Mr. John take us for a ride on the boat?
By directing his imagination to things that excited him, ultimately this process made Adam feel better and more fun to be around. Because who’s more fun to be around, somebody who’s excited or somebody who’s miserable?
Redirect your fear and use it as a force for good. Use your anxiety as a tool to immediately flip things around and see all the good that can come from a new opportunity or experience. Utilize your imagination to picture the best possible outcome.
It will take practice. It will take patience. But I know you can do it—you can get rid of anxiety.
When you feel anxious or afraid, trust that you’re one step closer to your greatness.
Question: What do you do when you feel anxious? Is it helping you or hurting you? Leave a comment below and let me know.