Anthony Robbins shared an experience of when he was in a race car with a professional race car driver next to him. The race car driver had a button next to him that would lift the tires in in a way that would direct the car into the side walls if it was pushed. This was one of the ways race car drivers practiced with a coach – in an emergency situation with your life in danger, what do you focus on, the wall or the track?
So, Robbins would drive in circles awaiting the push of that button at any moment, round and round he went at high speeds, and just when the driver next to him felt that Robbins lost his focus or relaxed just a little too much, WHAM! He would push that red button and head front first directly towards to the wall, and just before they hit the wall the coach would steer them back in the right direction. This happened a number of times until Robbins figured out the pattern that kept directing him straight into the wall direction each time. As that button was pushed and the car was headed into the wall, Robbins’ full focus was always on the wall instead of on the track. He would be looking at the wall and not the track, so of course the car would always head in that direction. As soon as his focus switched from the wall back onto the track, when that button was randomly pressed he noticed that the steering wheel was turned in that direction spontaneously as well.
An important lesson can be learned from Robbins experience on the race track.
If your focus is constantly on what you don’t want, then guess what you’re going to get more of? What you don’t want! Change your focus to what you do want, but not only when things are easy and your anxiety is at a reasonable level. It is more important to do this when you are feeling like you’re in a tough situation and there’s no way out. Those are times when you need to say to yourself, “Ok, I’m not feeling great and I feel like my anxiety is rising to an uncontrollable level. I have a choice: to focus on stopping it quickly (which doesn’t work) so I don’t have to go through this cycle again, or to focus on how these feelings have not killed me in the past and won’t kill me this time either.” This way the fear starts to fade and along with the fear, your negative thoughts and bodily sensations with it.
People with anxiety disorders aren’t the only people who need change, however. From what I can see in my daily life, many normal anxiety-level adults are scared to make much needed changes in different aspects of their lives that aren’t leaving them totally fulfilled.
For example your career―since you spend so much time in your workplace you might as well enjoy it, right? If you absolutely can’t change your career then how can you make your workplace a more enjoyable place to be? Do you need to build trust with co-workers? Maybe you need to make the first move in bringing your co-workers a cup of coffee in the mornings? Or just a simple good morning to a co-worker who you haven’t talked to in a while? These can all lead to a positive change in your working environment.
How about your own leisure time? Don’t you deserve a break once in a while? When was the last time you set a weekly day or a few days to spend just on yourself and what you enjoy doing?
What about your education? I loved history as a young kid, I would be so interested in history shows and books but as I got older I didn’t take much time continuing on educating myself on history. What can you educate yourself on that interests you?
Taking a deeper look into what aspects of your life need change, then applying a game plan to put the wheels in motion for that change to happen is such a fulfilling experience that takes you out of your tired little comfort zone, and leads you to facing what you fear most, change!
A coach without focus
My tennis coach would always insist on making me work on a plan B or a plan C in practice, which made me so very uncomfortable because #1 it wasn’t my natural game style to play which meant I wasn’t very good at it, and #2 It wasn’t plan A! I insisted that I should strengthen my main game style I had, but as I got older and a little wiser I realized he had a point; the reason he wanted me to work on a plan B and plan C game style in practice was because when it came to a real tournament match and things weren’t going the way I wanted it to go, I could always switch my game style and give my opponent a different look that might turn the match around in my favour.
Once I really understood why he wanted me to work on my different game styles in practice, and I saw how it all came together in a real match, I was able to change my regular and limiting beliefs and became a more open minded tennis player. The same thing applies to change in people’s everyday lives!
Change is something anxious minds don’t cope with well
Anything that might threaten that tight hold we have to maintain control over our minds and bodies in case of emergency, we won’t do it. In fact, it is absolutely necessary to make these unnatural feeling changes in our lives to completely be free of fear and anxiety in the end. Taking that first step is crucial in reaching the light at the end of the tunnel. Once a well thought out plan has been mapped out and is followed, then there is no stopping you. Will you run into difficulties? Yes. Will things get more difficult for you before they get better? Possibly. But will that stop you from following your well thought out plan to conquer anxiety? NO!