Anticipation stress: how to stop making scenarios?
Written by: Loris Vitry (coach and Yoga teacher)
Validated by: Cathy Maillot (Osteopath)
Caution: If you have any medical questions or concerns, please speak to your doctor. Even if the articles on this site are based on scientific studies, they do not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
The future is a mystery, because “we don’t know what tomorrow has in store for us”, we often say.
However, there is a category of people who tend to project themselves into the future and always imagine that they will experience dramatic situations.
Result: anxiety and stress.
If you are that type of person, this article is useful to help you stop having scenarios that cause anticipatory stress.
Identify thoughts as they surface
Spotting these negative thoughts as early as possible is a starting point for this therapy.
So it will be less difficult to undo the process.
Some studies show that anticipatory stress comes from a mother’s thought.
Your brain tends to associate real-life situations with others that are similar.
Take the case of a person going to a job interview.
She will find herself reliving the previous interviews that went badly.
This thought thus becomes like a gangrene difficult to extract.
What then should we do?
You have to make a big decision the moment you realize that you are projecting yourself into a negative future.
How to identify them?
These thoughts are very often introduced by the word “If”.
This word is generally used when making assumptions.
For example: What if my job interview doesn’t go as planned?
What if I screw it up?
What if I can’t make a good impression on my stepdad?
That kind of wording in your head should grab your attention.
Subsequently, you could come to feel bad in your interior or to have discomfort.
This should alert you too.
Note that this state usually occurs when you are having negative thoughts about the future.
Tell yourself inside that you can do it and stop thinking that way.
Shift your attention to something else, a task you’re doing, for example.
Don’t worry if you can’t do it all at once.
This is a process that can take some time for some people because you have to make it a habit.
Develop a positive state of mind
This is a highlight and important point of this therapy.
Developing a positive state of mind can allow you to let go of the stress of anticipation.
For that, you will need time, because it will be a question of re-educating your brain.
Indeed, you will have to teach him to think of things to come no longer in a disastrous way, but to see them with more enthusiasm.
For this purpose, it is advisable to take time to meditate.
During this time, you can practice imagining an upcoming event that distresses you.
Tell yourself that things will be fine and picture to yourself this event unfolding without any problems.
For example, you are going to meet your stepfather for the first time and you are worried that he will not like you and that it will weaken your relationship with his daughter.
As part of our exercise, you could start by visualizing yourself arriving at the meeting place confidently.
Imagine yourself with him and visualize a conversation in which you are comfortable with him.
You realize that there is a certain connection and that he appreciates you.
You end up taking your leave and he gives you a smile, telling you that he appreciates you.
This exercise is just as effective when you manage to transpose this state of trust into reality.
You will feel like a calming of the mind.
Do not hesitate to repeat the exercise.
If you are having difficulty making these mental representations to yourself, you can put all of this in writing, putting in as much detail as possible.
This way, you show your brain that it can view the things to come with more optimism and it will give you pleasant feelings instead of stress.
Focus on the present
The stress associated with this anticipatory tendency comes precisely from the fact that you are trying to make (dramatic) predictions.
One of the solutions to this problem would be to focus on your present situation.
You will need to realize that this attitude prevents you from living in the present moment and fills you with unpleasant emotions that weigh on you and prevent you from being happy.
Tell yourself that what you imagine is not real.
Over time, this exercise will allow you to leave less room and power for your negative thoughts.
It will also allow you to learn to return to the present moment to pay your attention to it.
The more you get used to it, the more peaceful you will feel.
Have good self-esteem and trust yourself
This is also one of the keys to overcoming the stress of anticipation.
Some people tend to think that they are weak, that they are vulnerable and that when faced with difficult situations in life, things will always go wrong.
You need to repeat yourself until you realize that you have strengths and that in the face of adversity you can have the upper hand.
You also need to realize in your mind that no matter what happens in your life you will have something to feed your experience.
Little by little, you will be able to let go of this feeling of helplessness and you will be less inclined to these negative thoughts.
During your meditation, for example, you will be able to think deeply about difficult situations that you have gone through and that you have been able to overcome.
Pay attention to the fact that you were able to overcome the situation.
You will really realize that you have the strength and the assets necessary to face stress and you will be able to better enjoy the present moments.
The stress of anticipation can be a barrier to your growth.
It can make you feel completely pessimistic and fill you with unpleasant emotions.
But by doing the mental exercises listed above, you will no longer be able to create negative scenarios for yourself regarding future situations.