Tip #23: When in a place that causes you anxiety, don’t look for an escape route.
The Why: A common trigger for anxiety is being in a place that you can’t easily get out of. For instance, a cinema, a concert, a train.
We begin always looking for a way out, an exit.
“If this goes wrong, I can use x, y, z to get out.”
This may seem to help dissipate the anxiety. You’ve got a contingency plan. It’s all good right?
In the long term, this has adverse effects on your mentality towards to the world around you.
This is because you allow your brain to legitimise the fear you feel. By looking for an escape route, you’re creating a safety blanket, rather than dealing with the route of your anxiety. By looking for an escape route, you’re already planning for the worst.
When I recently went to a concert, all manners of horrible thoughts were rushing through my brain. I said to my friends “Can we stand towards the back near the exit?”
By doing this, I was legitimising my fear. I had momentarily quieted my anxiety, but hadn’t dealt with my real fear.
When I realised this, I turned to their shocked faces and said “Let’s go right to the front.”
For the first 15 minutes, I felt the usual symptoms of a panic attack. I kept saying to myself:
“You can’t get out. You’re just going to have to deal with it. Bring. It. On.”
Low and behold, 20 minutes into the gig, I felt fine. My anxiety had been shown the door and I had an incredible night (not standing at the back trying to see over all the tall people in hats).
Because I didn’t look for an escape route, I showed my anxious mind that there was no real danger, that it was okay.
Next time, I won’t be afraid.