Sometimes we create our own troubles by sheer force of habit. For instance, if you don’t consider yourself a good writer your first reaction to being required to write a school essay might involve fear, anxiety and worry. If your classes involve report or research-based writing, your primary reaction may be to put off writing until the very last minute. For the next few minutes let’s just look at how procrastination plays a part in making your fear, anxiety, and worry more painful than it needs to be. What benefits do you get from those three emotions? Why is it such an easy set of responses for you? Finally, we’ll look at how a little tweak will make it easy for you to overcome fear, anxiety and worry and ultimately turn fear anxiety and worry into your best friends – and, yes, it can actually happen!
First, there’s fear. You’re afraid to fail, afraid it (whatever “it” is) won’t be perfect and you’ll have to do it over again. Afraid someone will see it and post it to the Internet as “one of the stupidest things anyone ever did, wrote, said, etc. The fear keeps you from getting started. In fact, the fear even makes you so numb that you don’t realize that you even have the fear. If you could accept the fear, perhaps the first change you’d make would involve actually learning how to write with authority. Push through the fear and find a good book or eBook on writing fast with wild abandon. Of course, once you’ve written something down you’ll want to start work on editing.
The self-criticism that comes with editing leads us to the next troubling response: anxiety.
You will feel a twinge of anxiety if you have a report to write, no matter how many weeks exist before the deadline. The best thing to do is to face your fear. But facing the fear just brings up anxiety and worry (which we’ll deal with in a moment). This time, it’s anxiety or stress that builds up in your gut (solar plexus) and makes you forget to write down the deadline. You may be so stressed out when you think about writing that paper that you lash out at friends, family and classmates for no apparent (to them, at least) reason. Your middle name becomes “Road Rage Monster” and people stop inviting you to parties.
If this is you, it’s extremely important that you take out your date book and mark a big red circle around your deadline date. Next, create a schedule to write two sentences — or two paragraphs or two pages — a day. The time frame will, of course, depend on the amount of time time you have remaining to complete the paper. Finally, write something down immediately after you make a note in your datebook. Actually do something toward starting the assignment. Take action!
Once you start working your way through the assignment you might begin to experience a third emotion: worry. Your stress and anxiety has been relieved by actually writing out a list of things to do as you work toward meeting your writing deadline. The bad thing now is you’re suddenly worried that you won’t be able to do all the things on your “to do” list. At this point, it’s time to be honest – are the things on your “to do” list really humanly possible? Consider seriously both the amount of time you have left to write the report and the other things going on in your life. When writing a report is not your usual activity, you will have to re-arrange certain things in your life to get the writing done. Do some thoughtful schedule rearrangement and worry could miraculously turn into courage and self-confidence.
Fear, anxiety and worry can exist in your life. It’s ultimately up to you – do you decide to ignore fear, give into anxiety, and do nothing but worry? Or do you acknowledge the fear, accept the anxiety, and work your way past the it? Whichever path you decide to take, you will need to take action. Perhaps you’ve tried taking this type of action before and failed. That’s no reason to give up. Overcoming fear, anxiety, and worry begins with a decision to find ultimate success at doing the thing you need to do. Ultimately success or failure is up to you.