Managing Expectations

I don’t know if everybody’s anxiety works this way, but one of the ways mine gets to me is by forcing me to imagine horrible, far off scenarios. Leaving the house? We’re going to come home to nothing because a fire swept through the building. Getting into the car? We’re going to die in a terrible car wreck.

Friendly meeting to talk about a project with a friend from church? Obviously, she’s going to laugh me out of the coffee house.

A while back, we inadvertently started doing something that helped stave off that anxiety. When talking, we’d bring up what I thought the worst case scenario was. Saying it out loud would allow me to voice how ridiculous that scenario was. We’d then talk back to the best result of the situation I could think of, essentially creating a bracket of expectation within which the likely result would fall between.

It sounds silly, but so is thinking you’re going to die every single time you leave the house, cook, or go to sleep. So…

This has also helped me frame my communications with people. If I can relay to them my best and worst expectations I have in my head, we can work together to come up with a reasonable result. So far, it’s worked really well.

It feels ridiculous, but so is my anxiety. It tells me that I’m going to die all the time. It tells me to be afraid of everything, of everyone, all the time, no matter what. What would be more ridiculous is not taking these seemingly silly steps that help me feel better and letting my anxiety keep me from engaging with people who can help me grow, taking steps to improve myself, and doing the things I want to do. It also puts me in a position where I have to maintain an open and honest dialogue with the people around me about how I’m feeling and what kind of anxiety I’m experiencing. I believe that, with that transparency, it opens up the door for other people to feel safe and accepted with their own struggles.

What do you do to manage your struggles?

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