I’ve seen this online a few times, so I thought I’d address it. Anxiety has overrides. There are situations that should make me anxious that don’t. The reasons vary, but there’s a few surefire things that will override my anxiety.
A desire to prove myself or prove others wrong can make me feel like I can do anything. It’s beautiful, but I can't control when it happens.
When I was in 7th grade, my history teacher split our class into teams for the civil war unit. Reciting the Gettysburg Address got your team points. There was one kid on the other team who I knew was going to memorize it overnight and recite it the next day.
Simply to prove that he wasn’t the only one capable of memorizing a speech in one night, I did too. I voluntarily stood in front of my class and recited a speech out of pure competitive spirit.
This is the one I’ve seen online. My desire to help is stronger than my irrational fears. If someone else is scared to do something, I will not hesitate to help them. I encourage people to do things they’re scared of and go with them for moral support, even if I’m terrified.
I’ve made phone calls for people. I’ve gotten the attention of strangers. I’ve taken ketchup from the table next to us. I won't do any of those things for myself. But I will for my friends.
Don’t think, just go.
I love this one, because I can take advantage of it.
Sometimes I volunteer to go on the first day for a presentation or speech before I have a chance to think about it. If I go on the first day, I don’t have time to think about everything that could go wrong.
This is also the reason I’m able to work in fast-paced customer service environments, even though that sentence should terrify me. If it’s busy, I don’t have time to worry or think or be anxious. I don’t feel anxious at work until it slows or I let myself think.
I think it’s worth noting that joy didn’t make the list. Very rarely does how much I’m looking forward to something, or how happy it makes me, take away my anxiety.
For example: one of my professors had an ice cream social with a few other people over the summer. I went with one of my best friends. I love her, I love the other people there, I love this professor, and I love ice cream. I had a fantastic time. Part of me was still anxious.
Joy didn’t cure me. Joy didn’t alleviate my worries.
Which I think a lot of people don’t realize. They assume that because I’m looking forward to something, I’m not anxious. That isn’t always true, and please don’t be offended if it’s not. Please don’t take it personally. I promise I’ll still enjoy it.
The difference is that with joy, I consciously push through my anxiety. With the first three, I don’t feel anxious at all. There’s nothing to push through, because my anxiety is gone.
Keep in mind that these overrides are exceptions to the rules. Just because I did something once does not mean I can do it again, or that it’ll never give me anxiety.
Also, and I’ve said this many times, everyone is different. My overrides are not universal. Get to know your own, get to know the ones of those you love. It can provide a lot of clarity and help you come up with new ways to overcome anxiety-provoking situation.