A man, we’ll say his name is Tom, gets a flat tyre whilst driving in the countryside.
He realises that he is missing his jack and can’t change his tyre with out it. He sees a house a mile or so away and walks towards it in order to ask for a loan of a jack. During the walk Tom anticipates the unwanted disruption he will cause to the occupiers of the house. He begins to imagine how annoyed the ‘man of the house’ might be for being disturbed to answer the door to a stranger looking to borrow his property. Tom works himself up imagining how angry this man will be towards him about the inconvenience and intrusion of his request. When he reaches the house and knocks on the door, a man opens it, and Tom shouts at him “you can shove your f#($ing jack up your a***!”
I often tell this story to people who experience anxiety, as it illustrates so well what we do to ourselves. We build up all sorts of worst case scenarios, and in some cases contribute to a less desirable scenario by our behaviour, born out of our worst anticipations. Anxiety usually manifests itself physically as naseau or a knot in the stomach, loose bowels, a tightness or heaviness in the chest. Some people may experience headaches.
Mindfulness is widely used to help deal with anxiety. Bringing oneself into the moment enables us to hold back on creating negative images, thoughts and feelings about what already has happened, or might never occur. It can be very calming and grounding to simply be in the moment and to be present to the room, the action, the minute, that is with us at any time. The prayer of serenity is also useful to bear in mind, regardless of your beliefs, as it asks for courage to change what we can, serenity to accept what we cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference. Its important to recognise what we cannot alter or influence and no amount of worrying will help. Finding a way to accept or let go of this is important rather than tormenting ourselves.