Eminem? Yes, Eminem. When teaching people about learning theory, behaviorism, and anxiety it’s usually in the context of therapy. I am trying to help them learn how to understand their anxiety. How to understand it, to beat it. In order to do this successfully I have found, as have many other clinicians, to use analogies. An analogy is a comparison. In this context, a comparison between anxiety and something else in their life. Something they can relate to, believe in, and understand.
This is where Eminem comes in. Well, it’s not exactly Eminem, but “B-Rabbit”, a character he plays in the 2002 movie, 8-Mile. B-Rabbit is a struggling rapper in Detroit’s 8-mile. In order to gain respect as a rapper he participates in rap battles. The movie opens with B-Rabbit struggling to perform during a battle, he chokes (not literally). It’s so bad, he gets booed off stage and spends the rest of the movie trying to redeem himself. The premise of a battle is to essentially embarrass, harass, and belittle the opponent, while demonstrating lyrical genius through clever rhymes and sophisticated vocabulary. Sound familiar? It should. The battle with one's anxiety is no different. Anxiety thrives on avoidance. In fact, without avoidance and other subtle behavior changes one's anxiety wouldn’t exist. B-Rabbit lost his confidence when he embarrassed himself. He feared feeling the shame and embarrassment he experienced, and initially chose to avoid rapping again.
Anxiety creates doubt. A thought that something bad may happen or that you may not be able to handle feeling bad. These thoughts influence your decisions and force you to avoid things (life). You can avoid and feel ok, temporarily. In the final battle scene of the movie, B-Rabbit goes against his rival, “Papa Doc.” He loses the coin toss and has to go first. In a genius strategy, Eminem gains support of the crowd and lays into himself. He raps about his terrible upbringing, living in a trailer park, getting beat-up, having his girl cheat on him, and being poor. He essentially uses all and anything Papa Doc could’ve used again him. The crowd goes wild and leaves Papa Doc speechless. What more is there to say? When we address our worst fears and challenge our anxiety it often runs away. Anxiety thrives on the premise of perceived fear, not actual danger. So when we look it in the eye and invite it, it’s usually nowhere to be found. Before getting back on stage, B-Rabbit is asked by a friend, “Aren’t you worried about what he’s going to say about you?” This simple question allowed him to quickly understand that if he took away the power of his opponent by verbalizing his worst there was nothing more to say. Anxiety is ruthless. It goes after everything you love. Identify your worst fears and change your relationship with fear. Challenge yourself to provocatively ask, “bring it on!” The worst that can happen is you may feel uncomfortable, something you likely already experience regularly.
FIGHT FEAR | FIND FREEDOM