As a creative, I see my forward-facing vision as one of my biggest blessings. When I look at a strategic challenge or an event in the future, I can see potential adverse outcomes. This allows me to plan around them effectively. I can also see the positive result, which means I can build what is required to ensure that it is most likely to materialise.

When it comes to anxiety, this can be a disaster - being able to vividly picture the worst possible outcome relating to many events that most people would consider to be trivial - parties, weddings, new business meetings or presentations. How can that not be stressful?

In large part, thanks to my life coach Jacqueline Hurst, I have come to understand how thinking differently can reduce anxiety in the build-up to situations but can also help to overcome hurdles faster and more easily. Because of this, I have become a massive believer in the power of positive thinking. 

This works in two steps 1. Learning to acknowledge when you are thinking about something in a way that is creating a fear response and 2. Thinking about those same situations in a different way can easily replace fear with far more positive alternatives.

When choosing an alternative, more positive thought, the obvious alternative to the worst possible outcomes is, of course, the best. If you can focus on imagining the jokes, the laughter, the acknowledgement, the success, then it is much easier to look forward with excitement as opposed to fear. 

In the moment, when I am making an effort to think about it in this way, this does work. But when it comes back to real life and the way I am thinking about the event, for me at least, the years of thinking about these things negatively, means I can easily find myself defaulting back towards the pessimistic.

Though I believe that with more and more practice I will get there, today I am satisfied and comfortable with a much softer alternative - curiosity.

Curiosity helps me to look at many different situations in a far more positive, less pressured way. Here are some examples:

  • Social/work-related anxiety - Instead of trying to force myself to see and believe in the best possible outcome, I gently ask myself:

 “What good could come out of attending this event?” or “What might I learn from this meeting?”

  • Hurdles - Instead of pressuring myself to ‘just get on’ with trying to overcome what might, in the moment, feel unsurpassable, I softly ask myself - 

“I wonder if I can just start to find out how hard this can be in reality?”

  • Empathy - Instead of trying to force myself past being trapped in the cycle of defending my position, I try to think:

“Maybe I can try to understand just a little bit more about how the other person is feeling in this situation?”

It does take practice, and proper support can help you get there sooner but try testing this softer approach without the pressure and let us know what you think about what difference it makes to your progress. We look forward to hearing how it impacts how you feel in the build-up to similar situations.

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