16659904079_7b7d09d92b_oWinston Churchill said “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” I love that.
One of the topics I discuss a great deal with my clients is seeing problems as opportunities. For the majority of anxiety sufferers this is a difficult concept and I often meet with resistance when first introducing the idea. I mean who sees the possibility of feeling anxious or panicky as an opportunity, right?

Here’s the thing, most of the time anxiety is preceded by concern. In fact anxiety feeds off of anticipatory concerns. If you spend your time thinking to yourself “what if I have a panic attack. This is a disaster waiting to happen. I can’t cope with this”,  you are already anxious and have significantly increased the chance of suffering an anxiety attack.

As I explain this I am often asked “but how can I see something I am scared of as an opportunity, it’s scary?!”
This is where confidence in your abilities to cope become important.
In our therapy practice in Southampton, we aim to ensure that our clients have all the skills and knowledge they need to feel prepared.
We also spend time working out ways that they can build their confidence. This is done by proving that their coping skills can work. We agree upon some real life experiments, which they feel comfortable doing but involve facing a small amount of fear. They do their best to undertake the experiments with an open mind, using the scenarios as opportunities to practice the coping skills they have worked on in therapy. The client learns gradually to trust in their abilities, they learn not only how to cope but importantly that they can.

Reducing the amount of time we spend anticipating the worst and learning to adopt a more healthy mind set, is a key skill when overcoming anxiety.
Neuroscience tells us that different styles of thinking release different chemicals, effecting how we feel both emotionally and physically. When frightened our thoughts often become concerned with our ability to cope. If we tell ourselves “I can’t cope with this” our heart starts to race, we become tense and stressed as we go into what is known as fight or flight. If in the same situation we were to think “this could be challenging but I’ll give it go”, our body would react differently. We may still feel nervous but the impact would be significantly less. If we begin to see problems as challenges or opportunities, with practice our mind and body learn to react differently, in a more composed and measured way. This builds confidence.

Seeing an event that could prove difficult as a opportunity to practice your coping skills has several advantages.

  1. we reduce the amount of anticipatory fear and do not exaggerate events or our physical/emotional reaction.
  2. we give ourselves the chance to practice coping, as we reduce avoidance of situations. This builds confidence and belief in our abilities.
  3. our body learns to react in a more useful way. With patience and persistence this will begin to happen automatically.

These advantages make it very favourable to seek out opportunities to face your fears and as Milton Berle once said “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door

 

*Hypnosis is not suitable for all clients and results vary person to person. All our programmes can be delivered effectively without the use of hypnosis.
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