I realized a long time ago that most of my anxiety centered around things that were only a big deal to me, or that common wisdom on the topic was out of whack.
I would be most anxious about things like socializing, finances, and work.
Worst case planning proved the possible outcomes of my fears were neither as bad as I had built them up to be, nor as probable or permanent.
By asking myself some questions, I was able to put this into perspective. Here is what this looks like from my examples:
What am I anxious over? I am worried about my job.
What is the worst that can happen? I get fired.
And then what? I file for unemployment, dust off my resume, and look for work.
And what is the worst case scenario then? I can’t find a job. Unemployment runs out. And I take a ding to my credit, maybe sell some assets or downgrade some things like my car to get by.
(Honestly, this is already a bit extreme… But let’s continue)
What is the absolute worst case scenario (where does my mind take me)? I lose everything. My boyfriend leaves me. My family disowns me. I wind up homeless and begging for money next to the highway.
Okay… Time to re-enter reality.
First, what could I do to minimize this worst case scenario? I could email everyone I know letting them know I need work and to let me know if they know of anything. I immediately start interviewing. Aim high but stay humble and don’t think I am above anything.
If I can’t find what I want right away, I continue to look for work but hedge my bets. I spend 20% of the day interviewing and applying to jobs that I don’t want but have a high likelihood of getting and making fast money, like waiting tables, delivering pizzas, and low level sales.
If this continues, I cut back on my lifestyle. Look for more ways to save. Get a roommate. Downgrade cars. Etc.
I might have to borrow money or go a month without paying off my credit card completely.
Now, what is realistic? I start applying for jobs. I get unemployment. And I find work before the benefits even kick in.
Going even further into ways I could creatively minimize these effects goes a long way toward reducing the strangle hold the fears have on my thoughts.
Also, there are the things I can do to prevent getting fired or even to find a new job before this even happens. This can become a very in-depth exercise.
But the questions I also like to finish with are:
Will this kill me? No
Is this really the end of my life? No