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Change and anxiety

Hello everyone,

What is going well? Take a moment and see how many things you can identify.

This week the question I am answering is, “I  would love to learn more about dealing with change and the anxiety that comes along with it.”

Any change will produce anxiety. This is normal and something to expect.  When change is imposed on us, we typically experience greater anxiety than when we ask for it. Even when we want to create change, however, we are likely to experience some trepidation about it.  This is because we wonder and question whether the change will be good or will last.  If we answer such questions with, “This is going to be bad. It’s not going to last.” then it only makes sense that you are likely to feel worse.  Anticipating that things will go poorly increases our anxiety. In terms of how to “deal with” anxiety or change we need to get to a point of being okay with the change.  Keep in mind the power of our self-talk.  We can increase our anxiety or the intensity of any feeling based on self-talk. If we focus on how things will be bad and describe all the reasons something will be bad and repeatedly imagine scenarios of things going bad, then you have just identified a formula for feeling bad and increasing one’s anxiety level.  If you want to deal with change and minimize your anxiety, then you want to identify reasons why the change will be good.  Think about how you will successfully handle the change. In fact, you would benefit from describing and imagining yourself dealing effectively with the change.  This can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. The key is to pair behaviors that also reinforce the thoughts that all is good.  If our behavior is to avoid, we are supporting feeling anxious.  By engaging in the change, we are becoming more familiar and learning to adapt and adjust, which will decrease the anxiety. To achieve optimum success we need to engage in the change and maintain a positive outlook.

I realize that this is easier said than done, depending on the situation and the change that you are dealing with. However, the same formula, if you will, applies to easy situations of change as well as more difficult ones.

Best Regards,

~ Dr. Lou

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