Pre-occupation on events that could lead to unwanted outcome

Postby shaun555 » Wed Dec 26, 2018 4:48 am

Hello,

I would like to share my experience and get feedback if others have faced the same.

I have realised that many times if I get aware of an unwanted outcome that I have no solution to in my present situation, this leads to high focus/obsession/contemplation over events that could trigger the unwanted outcome.

I will explain with an example of obtaining a driving permit.

I had been driving for almost 15 years before moving to America. When I moved I was initially allowed to drive with my international license for six months. I had no problem in driving and felt comfortable.
However when the end of six months approached I went to procure a license and had to give a driving test.
While giving the test I suddenly started feeling tense, anticipating that I would make a mistake at every turn. Just the presence of the inspector besides me had made me so tense that I was nervous like a teenager who was driving for the first time on the road. I failed the first attempt. I cleared the second attempt , though I made a few mistakes even then,.

I realised that initially when I was driving without the awareness that I would have to go through the test inorder to continue driving , I was in normal mode.
My emotional state changed once I was aware that an unwanted outcome (unable to drive) awaited me if any mistake during the test (event) occurred. This led with an pre-occupation with the type of mistakes I could make (events) that could lead to the horrible outcome. My mind started visualising all types of mistakes that were possible. Although I had never ever imagined I needed to be so careful before.

Hence in summary my pre-occupation and nervousness was with events (driving mistakes) that could lead to an unwanted outcome (loss of driving). It seemed as if my mind wanted to ensure I could tackle all the possible hurdles, by propping all possible hurdles in memory.
If the unwanted outcome was removed from memory e.g if the license test was just a formality then my pre-occupation and nervousness with the events or hurdles also were erased.
Has anyone faced such a weird pattern in thinking related to anxiety.?

Shaun
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#1

Postby Candid » Wed Dec 26, 2018 7:43 am

Probably all of us have. You're comfortable with driving, been doing it for years, but when it's called into question (a driving test) it occurs to you maybe you're not a good driver, after all. If you're unable to reassure yourself, you start to imagine everything that could go wrong. Imagining things going wrong programs your subconscious to sabotage your best efforts.

It's called Performance Anxiety. What's needed at a time like that is a coach (a good friend) who will tell you over and over that you're a good and safe driver and have nothing to worry about.

If there's no one around to do that for you, you can learn to do it for yourself. It's no different (except in scale) from going to the nearest shop for a loaf of bread. When you do that, there's no doubt in your mind that you're going to head out, as you have done many times, and come back with your loaf. You don't start thinking you might get lost on the way, be caught in a sudden hailstorm, or forget what you came for. You just head out and do it with no thought other than success.

So you had one failure in getting a US licence, then second time around you passed. The first test prepared you for what would happen, no doubt making a mockery of all your exaggerated fears. If you'd taken it a third time, I'd wager you wouldn't have made those "few mistakes", either.

The key to losing Performance Anxiety is to put yourself through a lot of things that seem difficult or impossible, and just keep doing whatever-it-is until you're comfortable with it.
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#2

Postby shaun555 » Thu Dec 27, 2018 6:18 am

Thanks for the reply.
However would the same diagnosis fit for all other situations

just focusing on unwanted outcome leads to catastrophizing on range of events that could be cause of the unwanted situations surfacing

I realise that I do not have dental insurance (unwanted outcome) and this leads to feeling of sensitivity in tooth (event that could lead to facing unwanted loss of money).

I focus on the fact that I do not have reserve money to pay mortgage (unwanted outcome) and this leads to threat perception with regards to job security (event that lead to facing unwanted situation).

I realise that I would be isolated if I loose my only friend in town (unwanted outcome) and this leads to excessive occupation with pleasing my friend and worry if my behavior has offended him in any manner (event that could lead to loosing friend).

Would the same strategy be used of convincing oneself that the various events are not expected to occur that could lead to unwanted outcome surfacing.
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#3

Postby Candid » Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:28 am

Best book on the subject is Susan Jeffers' Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. I no longer have my copy, but the take-home message was
Whatever happens, I'll handle it.

If you live your life imagining everything that can go wrong, and letting disaster scenarios make your choices for you, you end up with a life that isn't worth living.
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#4

Postby lol4er » Sun Jan 27, 2019 6:37 pm

You have repressed shadow aspects of possibility of mistakes
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