Today I want to tell you a personal story about me and how I used some of the techniques I’ve talked about previously.
Once upon a time I got anxious about starting anything. Almost literally anything, whether it be tidying up, writing a document, cooking a meal, doing some DIY. The only time I actually did anything was when there were real consequences for not doing it.
I convinced myself that I was lazy. I spent as much time as possible slumped in front of the TV or reading a book. I didn’t like the idea that I was lazy. I knew that if I made the effort I could achieve so much and there was much in life that I wanted to achieve.
And on a more practical level, my house was a mess, my diet was mostly take-out and ready meals/TV dinners and letters and bills, which needed my attention, would pile up until the last possible minute.
And so I started looking at my thought processes.
- What was the trigger?: Every time I thought about starting I was full of anxiety. My calm feelings vanished and something inside me felt like, “if I do this, I will never feel calm again – it will never end”. And so I sat back and watched TV and relaxed, full of calm good feelings.
- How could I change it?: The bizarre part is, that once I got started I was quite happy doing all of these things. Often, I would actually enjoy it once I got started. And at the end, I had a great feeling of accomplishment and a weight lifted off of my shoulders. It felt great.
- What did I change?: When I needed to do a task, and those feelings of anxiety started I would immediately try to replace them with the feelings of accomplishment. I knew they were coming and so I made myself anticipate those. I distracted myself from the anxious feelings before they got started and refused to dwell on them. I didn’t let myself think about the task ahead. I kept myself distracted until “go time” and then just pushed myself to start knowing that the good feelings were coming.
- The result: I still get the anxious feelings sometimes when I anticipate tasks, but at a much lower level. I actually spend a lot more time feeling good about the things I’ve accomplished. I now do a much better job all round as I go above the required minimum. I take on much more work voluntarily (like this blog for example) than I would ever have dared before. And my diet has improved marginally (I still enjoy fast food a little too much for my own good) as I actually enjoy cooking. 😉