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Crush anxiety with the power of conscious decision making

Life is tough, random and chaotic and there are many things out of our control. The more things we focus on outside of our influence the less happy and more anxious we become. 

The hallmark of anxiety is a feeling of dread, uncertainty and fear that something bad is around the corner. This impending sense of disquiet and restlessness is due to focusing on everything you can’t control, everything you have no influence over, and this leads to feeling disempowered and uncertain about everything. 

The fact is there are lots of things out of our control. We can’t control the economy, we can’t control how people perceive us and we can’t control environmental factors such as the weather or viruses. We can’t control the psychological and emotional impact of experiences we have throughout our lifetime either. However, if you focus on what you have little influence over it leads to anxiety, depression, lost potential, and even worse, a mediocre, unsatisfactory life.

An example of life on autopilot

Let’s meet Martin. He wakes up in the morning at roughly 7 am and has a feeling something isn’t quite right. His brain then focuses on what’s wrong to find the why? This is a common occurrence for Martin but since he has to go to work he buries the discomfort, that’s all he knows. He looks out of his window, it's raining, and his mood drops further.

Next, he jumps into the shower to wash away the feeling of dread, which works temporarily, before rushing down the stairs to pour out his cereal, unconsciously munching away whilst reading the bleak morning news on his phone. This type of negative focus is addictive, but despite focusing on what’s wrong with the world he has no idea why he feels anxious and generally rubbish.

His partner is also running around like a headless chicken engaging in her typical morning habits too, so they brush past each other and reluctantly peck one another on the lips before leaving for work. Martin senses a deep dissatisfaction at that moment, the kiss is empty and devoid of passion.

On the drive to work, he thinks about the impending meeting with his boss. Without a plan for an ideal outcome, he panics and thinks about the worst-case scenario. Martin feels completely uncertain and disempowered. He gingerly steps out of his car and sighs, "this isn’t living," he tells himself, "this is existing".

Without making deliberate decisions on a regular basis life is chaotic and uncertain, and in this kind of environment, anxiety thrives.

Notice that Martin has no deliberate focus. He is asleep. Everything about his behaviour is autonomous and passive. His focus is forced upon him because he hasn’t made a conscious decision to get the very best out of his day. He is completely at the mercy of the environment and his mind. He knows the cycle well but can’t find the energy to turn things around.

An example of a lifestyle designed

Let's meet Bradley. An hour before bed he knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s asked himself, "what will make tomorrow a superb day?". He’s made a decision to visualise this consciously.

He decides that he’s going to catch up with an old friend and organise a snooker night, then actions that immediately by sending him a quick text. He then decides to get up at 6:30 am and go down the gym for a 15-minute run, lift weights and chat to a local fitness instructor about booking a session. Next, he thinks about the meeting with his boss and imagines the perfect outcome in his mind by asking himself, "what would a great meeting look like for me?". For clarity, he writes down his vision.

He also decides to listen to a motivational track in his car on the way to work to put himself in the right headspace for the meeting. Finally, he thinks about his relationship and imagines sitting opposite his partner and tucking into a juicy steak with a glass of red wine in his favourite restaurant before driving back home for some light entertainment.

How to take back control

Notice that Bradley is designing his life. He is creating order from chaos and certainty from uncertainty. This makes him feel an element of control, influence and confidence. He has decided to focus deliberately on his day instead of unconsciously and lazily going about a passive, indecisive routine. Anxiety has no room to develop with such a decisive mindset, and instead, he feels excited about the day ahead.  

Man writing

Here’s the truth, you can control what’s between your ears, you can control what to focus on, and you can control what things mean and choose to live life on your terms. All it takes is to ignite a more conscious, fulfilling life, where-by you make daily decisions to change your focus.

Taking action

So ask yourself this question: what's not good enough in your life? 

List all areas from relationships to work, fitness/health/diet, hobbies/interests, spirituality and most importantly, your mindset. Admitting to yourself what isn’t good enough is the first step to changing it decisively, so write down what isn’t working in detail.

Ask yourself what you’ve been avoiding, perhaps, for example, it’s a fitness goal. In which case start very small by deciding to go for a 5-minute jog or doing 20 press-ups before bed. This is a trigger behaviour and will start the momentum ball rolling.

In the beginning, deciding how to think and behave differently is difficult but step by step you’ll start developing a decision-making muscle. Just like lifting weights, you’ll get better and better, but starting small is the key. Practice making tiny decisions daily and build on that. 

It’s essential to note that being decisive on one day isn’t enough, your decision has to be consistent otherwise you’ll be back at square one 24 hours later feeling like a failure. The reward for taking charge of your life will be increased happiness, achievement, confidence and inner peace.

Counselling can help you to develop your decision making and crush debilitating anxiety.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Adam Matthew Day - Relationship Counsellor & Coach

Adam Day is trained in various approaches as an integrative therapist; these include humanistic (person-centred/existential), cognitive behavioural, transpersonal and psychodynamic. He is available for therapy throughout the week from 10am to 8pm.… Read more

Written by Adam Matthew Day - Relationship Counsellor & Coach

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