Any Moment: Anxiety for what is just around the corner
Updated: Feb 20, 2019
Individuals with high anxiety may find themselves having difficulty controlling worry about the future. It may feel like a perpetual alertness for the “next shoe to drop.” Whether the individual feels the need to be aware of the future, to know what is going to happen next, to feel as if they have planned adequately for every possible negative situation; these needs may take a high toll on the individual’s physical body and may cause them to not be fully engaged with the present.
This is not to shame anyone who feels these needs. Quite the opposite – more often then not, this is a result of your brain trying to protect you. But maybe…just maybe…you don’t need it to protect you in this way any more. Potentially, you are smarter, more experienced, wiser, than you were when negative situations happened in the past that were out of your control. Maybe you have the tools today to handle situations as they come and you do not have to be so concerned with what “may happen.”
Let’s look at a timeline. A normal timeline may look like this.
As you can see there is the NOW. Now constantly moves. Because when you just read the word “now,” now is actually different then it was when you first read it. And yet again, now has changed. Eight hours from now is a real moment in time. That becomes fixed dependent on which moment in time you said eight hours from now. Eventually, eight hours from now will be now, but only for a moment. One year from now is the same. Barring some apocalypse. One year from right…NOW…will happen, and as I’m writing this that would mean 12:18pm and 47 seconds on January 22nd, 2020. These moments in time are real. They are going to happen or have already happened.
Let’s talk about Any Moment. Anxious individuals are inclined to construct this place in time called Any Moment. As you can see on the next image, Any Moment always immediately follows “Now.”
An anxious individual may think things like; at any moment I could do something foolish and everyone will reject me, at any moment I could get in a car crash, at any moment plans could change. Another indicator of Any Moment thoughts are statements preceded by “what if:” what if I lose my job, what if I’m not good enough, what if I won’t succeed.
All of these thoughts exist in this place in time called Any Moment. I’m going to let you in on a little secret… Any Moment is not real! It doesn’t exist. It’s a false construct.
This is not to say that it doesn’t feel real. Your anxious feelings make it seem real, but still it is not. Now, I can’t sit here and guarantee you that nothing bad will ever happen to you again. That’s another reason Any Moment feels real, because it can be rooted in some form of logic (I can’t be for sure it WON’T happen) and it is generally also rooted in the past (when I let my guard down, when I was not in control, or when I wasn’t prepared bad things DID happen).
Being rooted in logic and the past can give Any Moment a very real feeling and can make it extremely powerful.
When we live in the Any Moment, which is another way of describing Dread, one of the two types of anxiety (read about two types of anxiety here), our brain assumes the same chemical composition as if the negative event in which we fear is actually happening now. The anxious individual’s anxiety/panic symptoms are activated, cortisol is released throughout the brain, and catastrophic thoughts start racing. This is why the anxious individual may regularly feel exhausted without even having exerted much energy. The chemical flood in the brain is very real and it wears on your brain and body.
Imagine with me for a moment that the only thing that is real is now. Take a step back. What do you see, hear, touch, taste, and smell now. Are you safe? Are you ok?
Think about this too. How many moments in your life have you predicted exactly as they would occur and you were entirely correct down to the last detail? Probably none. Yet, somehow you managed to navigate through situations in which you did not fully predict or did not predict at all. Maybe you are more capable of living in the now than you realize. Maybe you don’t have to plan for every negative scenario that could possibly happen. Maybe you would actually be safer being more aware in the present instead of living in Any Moment. Maybe you can…dare I say…trust yourself more.
Don’t get me wrong; it is wise to plan for the future, to be prepared for what lies ahead. So plan for 8 hours from now, a year from now. You no longer need to plan for Any Moment. If you can live more in the present, engaging with your present senses, potentially challenging your worries by identifying whether or not they are Now worries or Any Moment worries; you will have more peace, you will find more relaxation, and you will Live Well.