Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches us to break down our fears into their underlying beliefs. We are afraid of X because we think Y might happen. Often once we express our fears in these terms, we find that actually our fears are unfounded and very unlikely to come to fruition.
But there’s another way we can challenge our limiting beliefs and get some more perspective and that’s to ask the simple question ‘why does it matter?’.
Why Does it Matter?
A lot of us are anxious about certain things happening but actually, if we keep asking why it matters, we’ll reveal to ourselves that the worst case scenario actually isn’t that bad at all.
Of course this doesn’t work if you’re trying to overcome a fear of heights, or a fear of snakes (why does it matter? Because I might die!) but it works for all manner of other things.
Examples of Asking Why
Let’s take the common social anxiety that almost everyone experiences to some degree. Unless you were the number 1 jock or prom queen at school, chances are you’ve grown up with some element of trepidation speaking to other people. You maybe ask what they’re thinking about you and what will happen if they don’t like you. Ironically, this is then what often causes you to make mistakes or to sound unconfident.
But now ask yourself why it matters. Why does it matter what a stranger thinks? Are you going to see them again? If not then it hardly matters what impression you make on them! Are they a friend? If so, then they’re probably not friends with you because of how good you are at speaking in public! Is it someone you fancy? In that case, they’re probably just as nervous and hearing a bit of stuttering is only likely to be endearing to them. If not, then they possibly aren’t the person for you anyway!
You can do the same thing with any number of other anxieties. Stressed about being in debt? Ask yourself why it matters. Worst case scenario your home might be repossessed. Not ideal, sure, but as long as you have a job you’ll be able to live in rented accommodation. Don’t have a job? Most of us know a parent we can stay with. Don’t have that? The council will look after you.
Again, not ideal but it’s certainly something you could survive. Once again, that worst case scenario actually isn’t that bad and you shouldn’t let it cripple you!