When faced with an unknown about the future, or a pending event or uncertainty, people who aren’t prone to excessive anxiety don’t typically become embroiled in what if thoughts and catastrophizing. Everyone worries to some extent. But it’s one thing to worry about specific concerns and planning ahead and entirely another to begin creating stories, thoughts and imagery usually around worst-case scenarios. The anxiety prone usually create a “state” of anxiety by imaging worse case and then believing a possibility now is probable or even a certainty. And they may begin to feel the physical manifestation of anxiety, a quickening heartbeat or feeling in the abdomen, which can set off more distressing thoughts and “anxiety about anxiety.”
A person can begin to offset this tendency by developing a “Lets see what Happens” mindset. Suspending judgment about an unknown about the future, evaluating if there are any concrete and rational decisions or choices to be made, and then letting go of the need to “know the unknown.” The individual can also experience any physical sensations without judgment, something like “this is just a feeling and I can tolerate it, this is just anxiety and I can look forward to feeling calm again soon.” They can also learn physically calming tools such as consciously letting go of tension in the body or breathing through the feeling and letting go of any need to evaluate or react. Of course the way individuals react to anxiety can be habitual and automatic, so it may take time and increased self -awareness to begin to react differently. Patience with oneself and the process is important too. As always it is best to work with a counselor or therapist trained in CBT and mindfulness techniques to help guide and support the process.