The Anxiety Guru Show

If you've ever thought you were dying for no reason, felt worried on most days, hate crowds, or simply feel uncomfortable in your own skin, then this podcast is for you. I will teach you exactly how you can overcome abnormal stress and anxiety.

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An  assumption is a mental leap you take without looking around first.  They’re also taken for granted, and it’s this easy-going acceptance of them that contributes to much of your anxiety.

I would never trash assumption itself because it serves a critical role.  It can help you make decisions when you don’t have all the facts and also helps to remove mental hurdles that could otherwise complicate decision making.  For example, when you’re driving down the highway you have to assume, to some extent, that other drivers aren’t going to run you off the road.  By assuming this you can clear your mind a bit and not drive like a nervous wreck.

This doesn’t mean that you’re not cautious or keeping an eye out but that you’re a lot more relaxed because of the assumption you’ve made.  Assumptions aren’t always made blindly, either.  Past experience informs many of the assumptions you make on a daily basis.  But using the past to evaluate the present makes things tricky.

The problem for the anxious person is that the act of assuming in connection with things that make us nervous is filled with psychological peril.  This is because many of those assumptions are just plain wrong, based on exaggeration, and parade around in our minds dressed as facts.

In the “real world”, as we just discovered, assumption is a useful tool.  But in “anxiety world” assumption is the gateway to panic.  Let’s take a look at some example assumptions that can lead to anxiety and panic.

1. Trigger: Chest pain –> Assumption: Heart attack –> Result: Panic.

2. Trigger: Crowds –> Assumption: Enclosure, suffocation –> Result: Panic.

3. Trigger: Headache –> Assumption: Brain Tumor –> Result: Panic.

These are just a few examples but there are many many more.  And they are almost all related to the fear of death, insanity, or loss of control.

A few weeks ago I spoke about the “mind shift” that occurs just seconds before you slip into anxiety or panic.  Well, anxiety-driven assumptions act like a bridge between a state of normalcy and pure anxiety, much like phrases that signal a potential disaster like, “Oh no!”

But why must we make assumptions that bring us to this point?  Honestly it’s not something we enjoy, but to some degree it is a decision we make.  An assumption of impending disaster is our best guess about what might happen based on how we feel.

Because of past experience we tend to make sweeping generalizations and just figure that if it happened once a certain way, it will happen exactly the same way again in the future.  But of course this is a thinking error that turns into a self fulfilling prophecy from hell.

To stop assuming that you’re going to die every time you feel a twitch or bump you have to take two steps.

1. Awareness – You have to slow down and be aware that when you’re making the switch from “regular you” to “panicked you” that you’re engaged in assumption.  Question the plausibility of the assumption and stop it cold.

2. Patience – Whatever is scaring the daylights out of you isn’t going to leave you immediately.  As you question the assumption, you also need to wait patiently.  It may take several minutes, but if you know you’re jumping to conclusions AND you give your rational mind a chance to catch up to your fear, you will experience a reduction in anxiety.

Let’s not forget that fear and anxiety travel at the speed of light (at least it seems like it) and it sometimes takes a minute for you to realize that you’re not really in any danger.  Once your rational mind is aware of what’s going on you’ll be able to talk yourself down and eventually relax.  So suspend conclusions about what might happen, even as you experience an uncomfortable symptom, to buy yourself the time you need.

The processes behind all this can be somewhat confusing, but the reaction to an assumption is not.  You won’t always be able to stop anxiety and panic from taking hold, but I can guarantee that you will reduce their frequency if you just pay attention to what you’re thinking.  Be a little more mindful and patient and you’ll see what I mean.

Direct download: assumption.mp3
Category:Anxiety -- posted at: 11:36am PDT