Are you anxious about your own future? It's easy to fall into the habit of imagining the worst possible outcome, and expecting it to occur. Here are some words of wisdom about avoiding the anxiety trap.

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Do you suffer from anxiety about things coming up in your life? If so, you’re not alone. People often try to second-guess what might happen and they mostly picture worst-case scenarios, where everything goes wrong.

Many of us unwittingly train our thoughts around negative outcomes for events in the future.

It’s actually a natural phenomenon to expect the worst. Psychologist, Dr. Alison Ledgerwood of UC Davis spells it out in this brief TED Talk.

Picturing failure makes you anxious

Your mind may know the difference, but your body can’t really discern between what you imagine or anticipate, and reality. So when you expect the worst, your body produces stress hormones, which is not good for your health.

By imagining the worst, you may think you’re figuring out how to cope with potential failures – but you’re actually increasing the likelihood of not succeeding. In fact, negative visualizations prompt you to “practice” your mistakes.

Picturing success to reach your goals

Top athletes use visualization to achieve goals – but rather than picturing failure, athletes visualize winning.

When you picture positive outcomes, you increase the odds of victory. Using positive visualization also builds overall confidence about taking on whatever adversity may come.

Check out these words from confidence coach, Aliya Rajah on positive and negative expectations…

How to picture positive results

To calibrate your imagination for success, instead of failure, visualize what you want to have happen. Make images clear, bright, and colorful. Ensure you are in the picture, behaving in positive ways. Display positive body language. Stride with confidence, and smile.

Take job interviews, for example. Instead of imagining a rejection letter coming the mail, picture yourself preparing for the meeting  – traveling to the building where the interview will take place  – shaking hands with the interviewer – answering difficult questions with ease  – shaking hands with the interviewer again – receiving an invitation to come back – and so on. See how much better positive visualization makes you feel!

Experience the joy of success!

Think how elated you will be when everything goes well. What physical sensations might you experience – energy and lightness, perhaps? Let feelings wash over you at the end of the exercise.

Communications expert Kristy Callihan explains the self-fulfilling prophesy and its power over us.

You’re anxious when you picture events going wrong and doing so can hinder success. See yourself achieving your goals and you’ll exude more confidence, accomplish more stuff, and most importantly, cut out the stress in your life.

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