Anxiety, that thing that goes bump in the night. If you’ve ever suffered with prolonged anxiety you know what a horrible effect it takes on your life. One thing that suffers is your confidence. From the people I work with and the books I’ve read, it’s clear that your self confidence has a huge effect on how you recover from anxiety. That’s right, anxiety will destroy your self confidence to the point you don’t know who you are. How do we change that?
You get lost in thoughts. Analysing different aspects of your life. For a moment you are sure of your answer then you start to doubt. You think things like “but am I sure” or “how do I now for certain” or the worst question…”What if?”. You may even have an immediate answer certainty, but then you get caught in endless doubt and reassuring. Maybe it’s a question like
“Are you sure you like your career choice?”
“Are you sure you’ll enjoy your holiday”
“Am I terminally ill?”
“Does she/he love me?”
There are hundreds of potential doubts just waiting to pounce on an anxiety sufferer. It leads only to more endless doubting and reassuring.
So why is this? How do I stop the doubts? How can I ever make up my mind?
Anxiety will beat up your ability to think, it will make you doubt your decisions, which will slowly beat down you self confidence. The confidence you maybe had at one point now becomes a distant memory, and you are left doubting everything that means something to you. Anxiety is “YOU” in a fearful state.
One key to recovery is self confidence. Here is why. Anxiety was known as the “doubting disease” at one point in time. That’s exactly what OCD and OCB are, endless worrying and doubting. So if you remove the doubt, you now have clarity. But to remove the doubt you must have confidence in your judgement. It’s the lack of confidence in your judgement that causes the endless doubting. Assurance only comes from confident assessment, the trusting that the decision you make or action you do is the best to your knowledge. It all sounds good on paper, but to anxiety sufferer or obsessive compulsive, it is incredibly difficult to obtain total certainty. But the same is true for everybody for we can’t always be sure of everything.
But why do non anxiety sufferers not doubt endlessly? One of the reasons is they have confidence in themselves or at least their choices. There will always be elements of uncertainty, there will always be possible room to doubt, but someone without anxiety doesn’t get caught on the doubt. Their self confidence means they trust themselves. They trust what they see rather than what they can imagine. They are more fact lead than imagination lead.
Strength lies in this: having the confidence to trust yourself and to live life regardless of uncertainty.
Another element is the fact that anxiety is rooted in a fear and the more confident a person is, the less they are afraid. So if a person developed their confidence they become less afraid. It’s like when you are a child and maybe you were afraid of the dark, but over time you realised that it’s only dark. Maybe it took time but the rule is the same, the dark didn’t change, you got braver. That’s the approach to anxiety. You get brave, you get more confident in not always knowing for certain the answer. In time, anxiety dissipates. People ask me all the time “will I ever be free of anxiety?”. The answer lies is yes, but it takes time and alot of work by you. Yes you can overcome anxiety, for in some ways it only exists in your imagination.
By Mark Fennell