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Waiting and Anticipating

Wednesday, 07 January 2015 00:00  by Emily S.

Waiting can be excruciating. Maybe you are waiting for the results of your final exams or a medical diagnosis, either way the delayed time between can be full of anxiety, fear and stress.

Why are some better than others at not letting the “wait and worry” period affect their daily life? A professor at the University of California Riverside conducted a study to find out if there were any unique personality traits that differentiated the way one handles waiting. She had 50 peers fill out in-depth personality surveys that examined their self-esteem, how they coped with ambiguity and whether they have a pessimistic or an optimistic outlook.

What the survey found was the more optimistic the view, the better they are able to handle this anxiety-provoking lull. However, what was really surprising about the study is that it reports self-esteem having little to no significance in their ability to cope with waiting.

The study also found that anticipating bad news and refocusing our mind to think of the positives of possible failure while waiting does little to reduce anxiety and fear, but does in fact influence our outlook once the results, good or bad, come in. Another interesting discovery was that those who did experience more anxiety and more anticipation and got bad news or failed a test were more productive and proactive afterward.

This study was small, approximately 50 participants, but it holds some interesting results. Keeping a positive outlook is the most influential factor in reducing anxiety and depression while waiting big news. It also reiterates the importance of radical acceptance, a DBT skill taught at Brookhaven Retreat. Radical acceptance means that it is okay to feel and accept the distressing emotion, but that you should not be driven by it.

So, if you are waiting to find out if you passed that last exam, or if your medical test came back with a clean bill of health, acknowledge what you are feeling but do not let it dictate your behavior, thoughts or self-assurance.

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