My Anxious Passenger
Any fans of the show Dexter will remember early on in the series Dexter described having a "dark passenger". This dark passenger represented the anti-social, murder-craving side of his personality that he would have to feed by killing people. Dexter often submitted to this part of himself and gave into his lust for death. So cool.
I too have a dark passenger, but mine is much less cool. Instead of the charismatic serial killer-type, my passenger is more of the Milhouse Van Houten-type. My passenger is an introverted worry wart that, if personified, would be the skittish nerdy kid who over-analyzes every situation.
I try my very best to keep him from coming out.
However, he shows his face at the very worst times. When I'm in a crowd of people and there is too much going on he pops into my head and starts looking for exits, and suggests that something bad is about to happen. Before I have to give a presentation somewhere or perform in front of a group of people he panics and starts jabbering away about everything that could possibly go wrong. When I go somewhere new, he makes me plan out the driving directions, the parking, and the schedule, sometimes days beforehand. He is a pain in the ass, but he's been with me so long that I don't know what it's like to not have him around.
He was at his worst when I didn't realize that he existed. This was when I was younger -- from elementary school up into high school. It's not that I wasn't anxious back then, it was that I thought he was me (whoa). I didn't know what anxiety was. I just wanted to avoid all situations that made me feel nervous.
Once I personified my anxiety, it made it easier for me to have control over him. It helps me to think of him as separate from me. He is not me, he's the worrier, he's the introvert, he's the one that crumbles in a stressful situation. It makes it easier to argue with him when I feel stressed or anxious. When he gives me a bunch of reasons as to why I should avoid going to a party or an event ("You won't know anyone there", "What if you look stupid?", "What if you're left alone?") I can argue back. I am a competent, social adult and even if something goes wrong, I can easily recover. This helps put his very irrational concerns into the realistic perspective they need to be in.
Nobody likes Milhouse. Nobody likes feeling anxious, but you can put limitations on your anxiety. You can argue against the worried thoughts you have that keep you from asking for a promotion, going to a concert, and putting yourself outside of your comfort zone.