When I’m anxious it’s usually because I fear that I will be unable to cope with certain situations. It seems reasonable that if things are frightening it is sometimes better not to think about them! For example, I am currently avoiding thinking about my personal email, because I need to make some decisions which may involve saying ‘no’ to people who’ve asked me to help with things that I may not want to do. I fear their response and my ability to handle the situation diplomatically, so I am avoiding my email.
This kind of avoidance is what my therapist called ‘cognitive avoidance’ Which I translate to mean avoiding thinking about things that cause uncomfortable feelings. The trouble with avoiding thinking about these emails is that it perpetuates my belief that I can’t decide or handle the decision well. So one of the challenges for me is to break down decisions into logical steps, take some decisions and learn something from the consequence.
The tricky thing is, that the only way to discover that I can answer my emails and can politely say no, can make mistakes and that’s OK, is to get on and do it. And every time I just do something that results in difficult feelings and survive my confidence grows. So bit by bit I am growing in confidence and reducing anxiety.
Incidentally, I started writing this email a couple of days ago. Since then I did indeed say I couldn’t make some things people had asked me to do, without making excuses. They didn’t mind a bit!