Emotional Wellbeing


Self Improvement

Mandy Kloppers

Dealing with the feeling of dread




Dealing with the feeling of dread

When we have a feeling of dread about something, it makes completing whatever we dread that much harder. We imagine it not going well or we imagine how much we won’t enjoy ourselves and the mental image allows us to feel miserable before the event itself has even occurred.

There are some things in life though, no matter how much we dread them, we have to get on with and just do it. Here are a few tips to deal with the feeling of dread:

  1. Keep an open mind

You will probably find that you have filled your mind full of negative thoughts that have led to the feeling of dread. Try to challenge these thoughts and replace them with more neutral ideas. When I think of going to the gym I get a distinct feeling of dread. So instead of thinking about what a slog it will be and how much I hate exercise, I try to imagine myself at the gym without attaching emotion to it. I imagine being there, using the machines and listening to music on my ipod. This leads to less dread than if I ‘buy into’ all the negative preconceived ideas.

2. Think of a positive outcome

Imagine how positive and proud of yourself you will feel once you have completed the task that gives you a feeling of dread. Perhaps while you are in the event/experience you may not feel 100% happy but you will certainly be pleased with yourself once you have done it – try to focus on this feeling instead. A great feeling of self discipline and accomplishment!

3. Accept the feeling of dread as an exercise in personal development

Whenever we are out of our comfort zone, we are engaging in personal growth and development. We are effectively teaching ourselves to cope with discomfort and a slight (or possible severe) sense of unease.This adds to confidence and self esteem, even i the outcome is not as successful as we had hoped. We still learn to cope with situations where we feel uncomfortable. It teaches us endurance and coping skills. It’s never a waste endeavour.

4. Visualise yourself handling the situation well

Sometimes, we have to ‘act as if’ – we need to become an actor and put on a persona to help us get through a difficult experience. Imagine that you have to act a part or think of someone you admire and imagine how they would sit/stand/speak etc. Try to emulate this person. Visualise the event going well and see yourself getting through without any hitches. This can lend to a more positive outcome  (self fulfiling prophecy).

5. Have  a back-up plan

Sometimes, it helps to have a Plan B. Ask yourself what you can do to avoid any possible issues arising. Even if the worst happens, try to think up what you could possibly do as an alternative. This takes the pressure off the event having to go well. Sometimes, things just end up beyond our control and thinking up alternative plans helps you to see the situation less seriously. There will always be other ways to achieve what you need to.  Maintain a sense of humour and try not to think about life as “all or nothing”. This places huge amounts of pressure on us and will lead to further feelings of dread.

Try not to think ahead too much when you have a feeling of dread. Prepare for the event if need be but then distract yourself every time you find yourself over thinking about the future.

It is not a ‘real’problem’ – think about it when it is upon you. Don’t spend days ahead of time feeling anxious when there is nothing you can do. The anticipation and the fearful thoughts will make it worse. Take it as it comes and know you will cope whatever comes your way. Try to have fun with it…

Mandy X

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