Anyone with anxiety-related issues knows how difficult it is just to function at a basic daily level. Circumstances differ but maybe they’ve had enough of being pushed around, or dealing with people, situations or circumstances that generate difficult feelings. Perhaps they want to avoid situations that lead to intense embarrassment or panic? It’s understandable why people get to a point where a good day is defined by the ability to avoid personal disasters.
If you’re that person I wonder what it was really like for you during 2014? Did you have lots of difficult moments and disasters or do you perhaps feel you did? Very often the reality of situations is different to the way they were perceived and that’s because anxiety is so exhausting. You come home after a shopping trip, or work, or a party and you are physically wrung out. Your head is splitting and maybe you feel tearful and incompetent. The future isn’t something that enters your head anymore except perhaps for that vague wish things would get better. No, it’s enough to get through the next few minutes or the next hour.
Taking emotional risks is about making small moves to do something a little different. These will help to pull yourself out of a rut. Some of the most content people around are those who accept difficult times are part of the deal but they don’t allow them to run their lives. It’s not an easy thing to suggest when your day is full of tension but taking small emotional risks do help. These might be anything from initiating conversation with someone new, to passing an extra comment to the person on the cash desk. These little moments of intimacy (that’s what they are) are to do with breaking down your barriers, and barriers only go up because we are fearful.
So, if you’re the type of person who normally bottles up the way you are feeling, consider taking the risk of sharing your day or some part of it with others. If you haven’t told someone how you feel about them in a while, maybe it’s time to? Emotional risk taking might be about expressing hurt, anger, fear or frustration but it could just as easily be to do with passing a comment, giving praise, or saying you love someone. The more you try with the little things the easier it becomes and the better you’ll start to feel. The real risk is taking no risks. That way you guarantee misery and you deny yourself all sorts of possibilities that you may already have rejected or backed away from.
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.