Anxiety Rehearsal


In a discussion about anxiety, an AS woman wrote that she knew it was useless to worry about upcoming events or changes in her life, but she couldn't help feeling anxious anyway. I wrote:

I know what you mean! One of my big problems is the way I habitually "rehearse" everything in advance. It would be okay if all I did was practice what I wanted to do/say myself. The trouble comes from the fact that I also make up parts for everyone else!

For example, I have to fight very hard to stop myself from creating complete scenes (dialogue, mostly) between me and [a service person with whom I has having a series of unsatisfactory contacts]. It's not that I don't know the difference between reality (when it happens) and my own fantasy world about what reality might turn out to be like. The problem is that when I let myself "indulge" in making up those scenes, I fill myself up with all the emotions that go along with the dialogue. And because I am most anxious about his doing/saying things that will make me angry, all my dialogues end up with me very angry at him!

It's so tempting to "rehearse" in that way. It seems like a natural thing for me to do, like it's just the way my brain works on its own. But I know I have to try to stop doing it. My brain probably is trying to control the future (and thus lessen anxiety) by working through what might happen. But since that kind of "practice" gives me only an illusion of control and in the process fills me full of adrenalin and anxiety, it's obviously something I've got to avoid as much as I can.



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