Fighting anxiety is hard.
If you've spent any time trapped in the throes of a panic attack or worry session, you know how much power anxiety can wield over you.
But just like every supervillain faces a stronger superhero, anxiety has its adversary too.
Optimism is "a feeling or belief that good things will happen." (Merriam-Webster).
When dealing with anxiety, we often forget that good things are possible.
Anxiety paralyzes you by flooding your mind with every possible negative outcome. Sometimes, anxiety is so overwhelming that even simple tasks like calling a friend or sending an email, result in a worry session and fear that the worst could happen.
Optimism is the light in all of that darkness. It's a reminder that good things are possible too.
Optimism Can Beat Anxiety
This is an awesome weapon against anxiety.
You know how lightness and darkness can't share the same space? Well, it's the same for anxiety and optimism.
It's impossible to have a negative thought and a positive thought at the same time. Don't believe me? Give it a try. Go ahead, I'll wait...
See? You may have had a bad thought and then a good thought immediately afterward, but you can't have them at the same moment. So use this to your advantage.
The next time you feel yourself spiraling into worry, doubt, or fear, force yourself to have at least one thought about how things could work out in your favor.
For example, I previously shared one of my goal to publish a new blog post every Wednesday.
As you can see, this week I didn't meet my goal.
I found myself feeling like a failure and began to think about how I had the same problems last year of falling short of my blogging goal.
My thoughts spiraled from there.
Is this schedule too much for me?
What if I miss 2 weeks in a row?
What if I seem like I'm not a man of my word?
What if I lose readers because I didn't keep my word?
What if.... What if... What if...
What's really the worst that could happen?
The truth was, just because I missed my deadline didn't mean I would quit writing. Also, it's unlikely I'll lose readers, but if I do, it won't hurt me personally and doesn't define me as a person.
Plus, it's only January, I have plenty of time to figure out how to reach my goal of weekly posts.
Then, I had this optimistic thought...
What if this is this post that changes everything for someone?
That one positive thought eliminated all negative ones before it.
It allowed me to get a better perspective and see that I was standing in my own way, wasting time thinking about things I could not control. Once I moved out of my own way, I was able to get to work.
Increase Optimism, Decrease Anxiety
There are countless stories of overcoming amazing odds with optimism. Even science has proven that optimism helps to reduce anxiety.
This is a power that you have at your disposal. All you have to do is use your thoughts for good. Take care to add optimistic thoughts to your day. Do your best to pause all of those bad thoughts and outcomes to consider this:
What's the best thing that could happen?
Next Action Steps
Practicing optimism is very important along our journey to overcome and discard our social anxiety. So lets take a moment and practice. In the comments below, share something that you would normally cause you to be anxious or worried, but you're choosing to be optimistic about.
For example: I'm choosing to be optimistic about new opportunities at my job. I've been working at the same job for 5 years now and I'm optimistic that I will have the change to advance and not be stuck or stagnant in my current position.