The Anxiety of Not Committing
We can feel anxious for a variety of reasons unique to each of us.
Part of our anxious journey is discovering what causes us to feel anxious, which in many, if not most cases, is us.
One common way that we cause our anxiety is avoiding commitment.
On the outside, not committing seems pretty innocent.
We say that we’re taking our time, thinking things through, and acting responsibly.
Yet, not committing or avoiding commitment can create a lot of problems in our lives, including feeling anxious.
By choosing to not commit, and it is a choice, we miss out on opportunities and possibilities, which literally puts our life in an anxious holding pattern.
Overtime, not committing can influence our mental and emotional health because of its effects on our self-confidence, decision-making, ability to take action, and even solve problems.
Bottom line, resisting commitment stops us dead in our tracks; nothings moves or flows.
Why we avoid commitment?
In most cases, we avoid commitment because of our anxiety about what’s next.
If I commit, then what?
Ruminating thoughts and stories about “What if …? trap us in a perpetual state of anxious rationalizing, defending, and explaining.
If we don’t commit, then we can continue to flounder, avoid, and hide from the anxiety of what’s next.
What if I can’t do it?
What if I screw it up?
What if I make a fool of myself?
What if I fail?
To avoid feeling the anxiety of what comes next, we simply don’t commit.
We make excuses like, “Yeah, I’m working on it.” Or “Hmmm, let me think about that a little more.” Or then there’s, “I’m just not ready.”
Yet and in all honesty, what are all our excuses really about?
Really, what are we working on? What do we need to think about more? Why aren’t we ready?
Most often, we know exactly what we want.
Yet, acting on what we want is so paralyzingly scary that we freeze in our tracks; we simply can’t do it.
So, our desires sit waiting and atrophying while we ruminate anxiously on taking action.
Opportunities pass us by; our self-worth wanes; our life stalls.
We trick ourselves into thinking that not committing is easier.
No commitment means no “I told you so” or making a mistake.
If we don’t commit, we can escape judgment or criticism, “Wow, you really screwed that up.”
Basically, if we don’t commit, then we’re off the hook; we can fade into the sunset without anyone noticing.
We can live up to the “I knew you’d fail,” and feel comfortable in the discomfort of our defeat.
The Anxiety Of Not Committing
However, the anxiety of not committing is painful; we suffer.
In fact, reflecting on my own journey through not committing, I think the anxiety of not committing is much worse than the anxiety of committing.
In other words, whether you commit, or not, you’re probably going to feel anxious.
But I can tell you that the anxiety of committing feels energizing and it’s temporary.
It’s a burst of adrenaline that launches me forward that then settles into eagerness, excitement, and empowered action.
Whereas the anxiety of not committing is painfully suffocating, emotionally draining, and exhausting.
It feels like a hundred pound weight on my chest; I can’t breathe or move.
Creating Calm in Committing
To ease the anxiety of committing, here’s a few simple practices you can experiment with to add some calm committing.
1. Challenge your thinking.
Because our mind causes much of the anxiety that we experience, challenging the thoughts that cause us to feel anxious is super beneficial.
For example, when on the edge of committing your brain thinks, “I can do this. I’ll make a fool of my self!” ask yourself, “Is this thought true? Do I absolutely know that I can’t do this and that I’ll make a fool of myself?” Do I know for a fact that these thoughts are true?”
In most cases, these thoughts are absolutely false. They’re stories that you’ve created in your mind from you past that have nothing to do with now or your future.
And, if you did fail and make a fool of yourself, “So what? What do you make your past mistakes and failures mean?”
Theses are powerful questions that can lead you out of your anxious prison.
2. Move your body.
Moving gets us out of our head and into our body. When we move, we flood our body with a variety of feel-good hormones that ease anxiety.