Anxious people often don’t use the word, “anxious”.
They say things like they’re… Worried. Stressed-out. Distant from others. Suddenly angry. Compulsive. Panicked. Grim. Tense. Avoidant. Isolated. Easily bugged. Traumatized. Anxiety feels awful. It’s the most common psychological complaint (close to a third of us will report high anxiety) and when it’s severe you might think you don’t know how you’re going to stand another minute of it.
At its worst, you’re convinced that you’re going to die. It feels so bad that we often avoid doing anything that might make us more anxious, and will do almost anything if it might make us feel less anxious.
How’s it hurt me? Promotion? Forget it. Meet someone? I get anxious and act weird. Connect with my kids? All I want to do is zone out. Enjoy life? Are you kidding?
You are not your best self when you are anxious. If you’re anxious, you might be:
About the worst thing that might happen. About how you might have humiliated yourself last night. About the bad thing that happened to you, maybe a long time ago.
Anxious thinking chases its own tail, and makes you feel worse and worse.
Anxious people tend to think they are powerless to fix the big problems, that asserting themselves will make things worse, that they shouldn’t get help, that it’s hopeless. Sometimes they’re haunted by trauma. Often they forget they’ve already tried something that didn’t work, and keep trying it.
What’s it make you do? Drinking, TV, porn, shopping, compulsive OCD rituals, angry outbursts. People often do things that relieve them in the moment, but damage their lives, which leads to, you guessed it, increased anxiety. These are all forms of avoidance of challenges – and the inherent or imagined risks of failure, embarrassment, rejection, or making someone mad at you.
Acting anxious makes you more anxious, which makes you act anxious…
Work addiction is an avoidant activity that deserves a category all its own, especially in the Bay Area. Manic working tends to pay well, until your body gives out or your partner dumps you – and, yes, it makes you more anxious. You might want to keep in mind that, when you’re stressed, pressured, tense, your IQ drops, and your work actually suffers.
You have to interrupt the cycle, but, without someone to help, you might find that you just slip back into the anxiety, no matter what you try.
I mean, you’ve tried lots of solutions on your own, right? Why keep trying, without an expert to help?
Anxious people often don’t seek therapy because, well, thinking of calling a therapist makes them anxious. But therapy is really, really good at treating anxiety, and there are a lot of things a therapist can do to help eliminate anxiety, from thought-stopping to exposure to relaxation techniques, psychoanalysis, EMDR… Figuring out what will work best for you is a key part of the therapist’s job.
One-size-fits-all approaches to therapy sorely limit how they can help.
Because we take a multi-modal approach, integrating the best tools from many approaches, we’ll use the ones that work best for you. be looking at:
– The body. Everything from recent lab values to sleep to diet to exercise.
– Relationships. Because getting relationships working can be the fast-track to relieving anxiety.
– How you think.
Anxious people are usually not:
– Developing the simple habits that can make them feel much, much better.
– Challenging and interrupting destructive thought reruns.
– Finding increasingly better ways to connect with other people.
– Doing one little thing after another that will quiet the anxiety, and free them to get on with their lives.
But you can.
You really can get there from here.
Let’s do the things that will free you from anxiety as effectively, rapidly, and enjoyably as possible, in the way that will work best for you.