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Approaches to Anxiety

Beliefs about Your Level of Anxiety

Most people if asked about the extent to which they suffer from anxiety would hold one of the following 3 beliefs:

Belief 1
Belief 2
Belief 3
You believe you don't suffer from anxiety at all. You believe you suffer from a serious level of anxiety and feel almost helpless to do anything about it. You believe you sometimes suffer from more anxiety than you would like and would like to be able to manage it better.

 

I'm going to look at each of these 3 beliefs in turn:

Belief 1: You Believe You Don't Suffer from Anxiety at all

Is it Credible to Have no Anxiety?

if this is your belief then you may not suffer from heightened forms of anxiety such as panic attacks or symptoms such as shortness of breath, palpitations, stomach upsets (although it is possible that you do suffer these symptoms but just haven't realised yet that they are the result of anxiety, in which case I suggest you contact your doctor to get your symptoms checked).

However, it is doubtful that there is anyone who doesn't suffer from anxiety at all, since anxiety is a normal emotion and serves useful functions - it can trigger you into taking appropriate responses to dangers or risky situations for example or it may act as a driver which helps you to achieve things in your personal or professional life.

Typical Sources of Anxiety

Also: we would not be human if there were not situations when we got excessively worried about something that is stressful for us, such as:

Therefore in my view Belief 1 is somewhat unrealistic.

Belief 2: You Believe You Suffer from a Serious Level of Anxiety and Feel almost Helpless

If this is your belief about your anxiety, the chances are that you have experienced some of the symptoms of severe or prolonged anxiety: the at times almost overwhelming sensations of not being able to control your situations, reactions or actions, physical sensations and pains or unpleasant physiological symptoms.

You may also have spent a considerable amount of time and energy trying to get rid of the problem - either by your own efforts or through help from other sources or advice in books or on the internet. Perhaps some of it has helped a little bit or seemed to, but the problem has not gone away and you probably notice more often the times when the anxiety returns than the times when you had less anxiety or managed it better.

You probably feel ashamed or guity or hopeless or angry about your difficulties in dealing with your anxiety or perhaps a combination of all of these.

Is there a solution if you hold Belief 2 about your anxiety? -

The Solution to Severe Anxiety

The first part of the solution to anxiety is to recognise that it is a mistake to look for a magic fix for anxiety. There is no magic fix for anxiety. There doesn't need to be! As identified in my comments on Belief 1 above, anxiety is normal and in many cases healthy. If you get rid of anxiety completely you will not function well.

The second part of the solution to anxiety follows on from this. Start to look for an approach to anxiety where you try to manage your anxiety and reduce the likelihood of it occurring in situations where it is unhelpful, but do not expect that this will always work or that it needs to. Paradoxically, your anxiety will begin to reduce if you can recognise that it is probably not within your power to control it completely.

The third part of the solution to anxiety is to realise that even if you suffer from anxiety you can still live a productive and useful life. You do not have to spend the whole of your life trying to confront the anxiety. Make sure that you focus a good amount of your energy on doing activities that form a normal part of your daily routine or that you enjoy. Resist the temptation to spend the whole of your life searching for anxiety solutions - it's fine to follow a sensible program to help with your anxiety, but don't overdo it! If 100% of your waking life is devoted to looking for a solution to anxiety that may just feed your anxiety! Remember, that you are unlikely to get rid of anxiety in an instant or completely and that trying to rid yourself of it completely is probably not desirable or sensible.

Belief 3: You Believe You Sometimes Suffer from more Anxiety than you would like & would like to be able to Manage it Better

From my comments above, you may guess (correctly) that Belief 3 encapsulates the approach to anxiety that I believe is most helpful for the majority of people. There may be individuals who find a different approach helps them better, but for most people (whether your anxiety is very severe or whether it is something that is only problematic in certain situations or from time to time) the recognition that anxiety affects you from time time and that focusing your attention on managing it rather than getting rid of it or trying to exclude it completely from your life will be helpful.

Benefits of this Approach to Anxiety

This approach to anxiety where you recognise that it exists and try to manage it or reduce it in a sensible way rather than find a magic bullet to get rid of it has several benefits:

Ideas for Dealing with Anxiety

More information and ideas about how to implement this approach to anxiety are contained in my ebook AWAKE from ANXIETY. For further details, click on the link below:

AWAKE from Anxiety

 

 

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