What to do when your anxieties are out of control.
At times, anxiety can lead us towards a mental place of paralyzing fear.
I remember my own situation as a Capt in the USAF, when I received a phone call from the Executive Officer, telling me to hold the line for the Wing Commander.
Negative thoughts immediately ran through my head…
“what have I done?”
“OMG, they have found me out and I am in big trouble!”, flooded my mind.
When the Wing Commander got on the phone, I stood up as I spoke to him. This was my immediate response as to the importance of this call.
For those that don’t know, the Wing Commander is affectionally called the “Wing King” because this person is the top authority for the military installation. He or she is a very busy person and when they call unexpected…you should take heed in what is to be said. It would be as if the President of The United States called you.
So in this case, he spoke and I tried to listen…really.
But my mind was so full of these random thoughts and worry that I would miss something.
All that I really remember about the phone call was when he said, “Are we good Capt Robbins?”…I was conditioned to respond, “yes sir”…but really I was thinking, “I have no clue, what you just said”.
After about 3 mins the call was over and I had a major surge of emotion.
My heart rate increased, I was very sweaty, I felt an overwhelming sense of failure
and I had to pee.
Well, first things first, I went to the bathroom.
Thank goodness for private stalls. While sitting there, I took several deep breaths, thinking about how I was going to act on whatever it was the Wing King asked of me. I left the bathroom and sat at my desk thinking about what just happened.
Over the course of several hours, I developed a plan. It involved being honest and transparent.
Humbling for sure.
I called the Executive Officer back and instead of making up some crazy story…I asked him to clarify what the Wing King wanted me to do.
I further explained my nervousness over the phone call and how I wanted to give our Wing Commander an excellent product.
Well, he began laughing and told me what the phone call was about.
“Capt Robbins, the report you submitted was well received..he was thanking you for a job well done!”
Wow, I just spent hours of my life worrying about something that wasn’t even real.
That is how anxiety works,
it takes a negative thought and links it to your situation, carrying you down trails of nonsense.
It is not until the “danger” has passed that you realize how unproductive and painful this journey was.
Gain control of your anxiety
Anxiety and panic are responses to a perceived fear.
I was genuinely frightened, but why?
I have never had a bad situation occur. I had no tangible reason to be concerned, so why did this happen?
Well, it all goes back to my core belief, or foundational belief, that somehow I am a failure.
Why do I think that? I would like to blame my parents or my upbringing, but to be honest..I don’t know. And it really doesn’t matter where the belief came from.
What matters is that I recognize this core belief and began challenging it.
So to gain control, you must first understand the fallacy in your belief.
In my situation, I had no “real” reason to believe I was in trouble.
I was an excellent officer and had received awards and kudos from those around me.
Had I taken a couple of deep breaths, reminded myself that I am awesome, I would have responded more appropriately to the Wing King’s accolades. Perhaps I would have said, “Thank you” instead of, “yes sir”.
To gain control over anxiety you need to have a positive experience to your perceived fear.
In my case, I made a point of going to the Wing King’s Executive office to just stop by to say “hello”. It was difficult at first, and it seemed weird, but I learned that they are just regular people like me. I would talk to the Executive Officer and at times see our wing commander in passing.
Over time, I was able to have positive impromptu conversations with our wing commander that helped to reduce my anxiety.
If your anxieties are getting the best of you, take the time to think about those core beliefs.
Are they founded in truth?
Or like in my case, just some negative thoughts that had attached themselves to me.