Often, people talk about their fears and anxiety. They discuss how they can overcome these feelings that hold them back from living. When they are not driving themselves crazy by analyzing all the possible reasons they feel these ways and rationalizing those very feelings, they deplore the nonsense of said emotions that come out of nowhere for no apparent reason. And I am one of those people. Very likely, you are, too.
My resolution for this year was actually to do more things that I am scared to do. I wanted to attack those fears head on. That did not really happen, but I was never disheartened about it. I succeeded in one way by figuring out the overarching reason most of my fears and anxieties exist. I had been stuck for years on figuring out the present reason, the reason for a particular fear or anxiety in that very moment. Why do I feel this way right now? Why am I like this? I had been stuck on blaming my circumstances, past, and people around me for my being this way.
But now I have evolved to realize the truth. The problem may have started elsewhere. But in this moment, the problem is me. For a while now, it has been me. And for a while longer, unless I change, it will be me. Because I do not trust myself.
You can now see why it would have been fruitless to simply attack all of my fears on the surface level without having this knowledge. My intention was wrong. It was to numb myself to my fears through constant exposure, rather than building up trust and confidence in myself. In the end, the two may not be that different if viewed from an outside perspective. I still will have to challenge myself by driving to new places alone or putting myself out there by meeting new people. Exposure is key. But I believe that intention is everything.
It can be helpful to figure out how you became this way in order to figure out a solution in turn. For example, you may realize you became an anxious person because you had always been around another anxious person. This could help you rethink the people you let into your life. However, reflection should only serve action. Otherwise, I do not think it is important to ponder why I do not trust myself beyond identifying the cause. Actually, I think that would set myself back.
People are always obsessed with knowing the why, but once you figure it out, it does not really matter in the end, does it? It does not matter why it exists but that it does. Being stuck on the “why” is cozying up with the past in a fit of procrastination. The problem has been identified. It is now time to dive headfirst into the future in a fit of resolution.
The only why that matters in the long run is why do you feel anxious and scared? Because you do not trust yourself. Do not fall into the cycle of then asking “Why do I not trust myself?” Break out of the hamster wheel to face the cage.
I am anxious because I do not trust that I can handle whatever situation life throws at me. It can indeed be scary because life is unpredictable. It has no intention whatsoever. It just is. It is not out to get you, yet it gets you. It is not cracking jokes on a stage, yet it makes you smile. I do believe life works in mysterious ways, and there can be such things as karma and meant-to-be’s, but I also think life is random, and you cannot always overthink it.
That unpredictability is what scary.
But here is what can be predictable: yourself. You are the part of this formula that you can control, and in some ways, quite the equal in power and influence as the chaos surrounding you. However, the less stable you feel, the less trust you have in yourself, the more that equal sign turns into a lesser than. You are lesser than that chaos. The equilibrium is shaken, and so you are rendered helpless to anxiety and depression. You have to at least get on the equal level, then hopefully someday become greater than for the majority of the time.
Of course this is a simplification. I am never talking about truly traumatizing events or conditions that people need professional or medical attention for. I look like a perfectly normal person and can live quite the normal life, if only my first priority was not protecting myself from both the hardships and joys of life.
I am anxious about driving because I do not trust my driving skills, and for no apparent reason. It is definitely conditioning and surroundings from growing up, but logically, I know there is no real reason or set precedence that I am a poor driver. I simply believe that I am and say that am, and saying so makes it even truer.
I get anxious about public transportation because I do not trust my understanding of the system and ability to follow maps and directions. I do not trust myself if I were to get lost. I get anxious about networking because I do not trust my voice. I get anxious about the future because I do not trust my abilities and talents.
What I am missing is trust. We have talked about loving ourselves, but we cannot love someone we do not trust. We often talk about confidence, but confidence comes from trust. I am seeing trust as the root of many of these other problems.
How we become able to trust ourselves more is indeed through more exposure without a fear of failure. We must trust that we will succeed–and remember that if you learn from failure, you do not truly fail. Preparation is also key–but do not go overboard. Trust that you can think on your feet and improvise as you need. Over preparation is a sign of anxiety, of not trusting yourself.
Another warning: Do not fall for confirmation bias, where you believe something and look for proof that what you believe is true. Even if you find any proof, that simply shows what you can do better the next time around.
But the first thing is to ask yourself: do you trust yourself? Anxiety, overthinking, and more are symptoms of distrust in yourself. Figure out in what ways you do not trust yourself–don’t linger on the why, remember the why does not matter so much–stop blaming your surroundings or the people around you, and then figure out how you might be able to gain trust in yourself. Create a basic plan–follow said plan–go from there. You can fall as many times as you need as long as you keep going.
Let me know what ideas you have down below for tackling your trust issues.