While I was seeing a therapist for my depression and anxiety I would tell her during every session all of the countless, ridiculous things that triggered my anxiety during the previous week. Some of those things would stress anyone out, but the majority of them were ultimately things I just made up in my own mind.
They say that depression is living in the past, anxiety is living in the future, and when you’re at peace, you’re living in the present. When you suffer from both, you’re just scattered all over the place, but this post is focusing on the anxiety aspect.
I think all anxiety sufferers can agree that we live in a constant state of fear. Fears vary from abandonment to death to heights, but it’s all still a form of fear. One really interesting thing I learned in therapy was that in the mind of an anxious person, there are two different meanings of the word fear.
F.E.A.R also stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. Think about it for a moment. That actually makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? The majority of my anxiety (while some of it is warranted) is actually just a fear of what could happen, but as you know, I don’t actually have any proof that what I’m anxious about is going to happen. When you live in F.E.A.R, you’re constantly afraid of possibilities. And that’s all they are, possibilities.
After learning this new acronym (well, new to me) in therapy, I started repeating it to myself daily.
It’s false evidence appearing real… it’s false evidence appearing real… it’s false evidence appearing real.
Everytime my anxiety would flare up and I’d be on the verge of an anxiety attack over something I created in my own mind, I would say this phrase, and I would focus on it. I’d have to remind myself that everything I was fearing at that very moment, even though it felt so incredibly real to me, wasn’t real at all. Sure, the things I fear are possible, but they haven’t even happened.
Keep this phrase in mind and try to use it when your anxiety flares up. Try to use this as a reminder that what you’re fearing at that moment is most likely not even real. Use this to try to take back control of your own thoughts.
If you give it a try, let me know if it works for you!