Feeling Anxious?

After ten years of owning our home, my husband and I have decided to do some remodeling. Great, right?

Well… here’s the hitch ” I’m experiencing so much anxiety about it!

Part of my brain thinks I’m being ridiculous while the other part is making up stories in my head and creating drama.

Does your brain do this?

What’s going on?

I’m worrying over every detail and focusing on everything I don’t want. I’m obsessing over all the things that could go wrong. I’m doubting our choices and questioning the expertise of others.

Here are some of the thoughts looping inside my head:

  • Remodeling is a nightmare
  • Did we make the right color choices?
  • Everyone knows you can’t trust contractors
  • The project won’t finish on time
  • The project will go over our budget

What exactly is anxiety?

Here’s Google’s definition of anxiety:

“Experiencing worry, unease, or nervousness, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Wanting something very much, typically with a feeling of unease.”

Feelings, in general, are vibrations that occur in our bodies and are caused by thoughts, not circumstances.

Anxiety is a feeling of generalized worry, fear, apprehension or nervousness. It’s sometimes called a “cover emotion” because it’s very vague and unspecific.

Anxiety is an emotion that most of us will experience on a regular basis.

You might be feeling anxious right now and think “I’ll eat instead.” Other people drink alcohol to avoid it, while others overwork or spend too much time on social media to avoid it. It’s not the same for everyone.

Anxiety is one of those feelings that by pretending it’s not there, it becomes a much bigger issue.

I fear uncertainty

After sitting with my anxiety for a while, here’s what I’ve noticed. I fear the unknown and my brain is making up stories to show evidence that I should feel anxious about it.

Most of us fear uncertainty about the unknown.

If it’s not uncertainty and anxiety about a remodeling project, it’s about the work project that’s on a super-short deadline with the poorly defined specifications.

When we’re not sure we can handle any situation or experience any emotion, we try to manage and control our circumstances.

I want to avoid uncertainty, the discomfort of feeling disappointed or making a mistake, so I’m choosing to feel disappointment ahead of time.

I’m swapping out the possibility of feeling bad with simply feeling it right now. A kind of “failing ahead of time” or playing out a “worst-case scenario” in advance. Instead of thinking about how it will all work out, I focus on everything that could go wrong.

The remodeling is not making me anxious, my thoughts about it are.

The good news is I have control over what I think.

I can take a look at my thoughts about remodeling and explore other thoughts that will serve me better. Focusing on what I do want, instead of focusing on what I don’t want is key.

What if I just felt confident that everything was going to turn out great?

What to do when feeling anxious

Anxiety does not need to be eliminated because anxiety in and of itself is not the issue; it’s our resistance and our reaction to anxiety that causes us problems.

  • Awareness. Allow yourself to feel the anxiety. Don’t avoid or resist it. Check-in with your body and recognize the vibration. When we observe something, the thing that we’re observing changes. Write down all of your thoughts. When you’re feeling anxious and you remind yourself the reason you’re feeling anxious is due to your thinking, then you can be curious about what that is.
  • Self-compassion. Practice acceptance and being kind to yourself as you remain curious about your new awareness. It can be a huge relief just to know anxiety is part of our “human-ness.” Anxiety does not mean something has gone wrong. Anxiety means that you are an evolved human being interconnected with everyone.
  • Gaining new insights and change. Be open to new perspectives. Look at other thoughts you can believe that are more closely aligned with your intentions. Anxiety is not a problem until we make it a problem by resisting it, by reacting to it or avoiding it.

Gaining insight

The new insight I gained about myself is this. My brain thinks: “I’m so uncertain about everything so I’ll just feel disappointed now.” 

Rather than feeling confident and then feeling disappointed if it doesn’t work out, which is a big emotional jump, I’m thinking” “I’ll just feel disappointed right now and remain anxious. That way if something goes wrong, I’m already feeling disappointed.”

I’m trying to avoid future discomfort by feeling it now.

What if I felt confident that everything was going to turn out great with the remodeling?

Confidence is just a feeling too. To be confident doesn’t mean you have to know for sure what the outcome is going to be.

There are lots of times where we think it’s going to be a certain way and it turns out differently. So I can choose feeling confident, which feels a whole lot better than feeling anxious and disappointed.

Do you want to learn how to deal with your feelings of anxiety?

Author: Jamie Cavanaugh

Jamie Cavanaugh is a Certified Life Coach, Educator, Interaction Designer, and Writer.

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