Constant worry, imagining everything will be hard or go wrong. Holding on to what was said and going over it and over it again. Lying awake unable to sleep with the mind racing, waking early with worry, feeling overwhelmed, the list goes on. These are all signs that can be present with anxiety.
I lived decades of anxiety myself, before finding the help that got me over it. The big problem wasn’t how to get over it. It was the fact that I didn’t understand what was going on in my life. I assumed Anxiety was something that happened to other people.
Most sufferers of anxiety feel ‘It’s just how I am’, ‘I’m lazy’, ‘I’m stupid, I’m not as good as other people’, ‘Sure that can do that, but I can’t’.
Anxiety undermines our confidence. Even when we do something well, we can’t bank the good feeling. We often feel like a fraud, or that we ‘got away with it’, rather than being able to accept a compliment or value ourselves.
And we hide it. We project a very different outward image to what we feel inside. It’s amazing how often the person with anxiety has the shoulder that gets cried on. People come for advice, and we can give good advice to others, just not to ourselves.
Few people knew I had anxiety. But it was bad.
It’s the same pattern I see all the time in clinic now helping others over anxiety. Anxious people come in not understanding what’s happening.
They also feel bad about feeling bad. Beating themselves up for the worry, stress, and whatever else they’re feeling.
Anxiety can push into lots of areas of life. Worry in general can become worry about specific things. Some of the most common ones I see are: worry about health, what others think of us, public speaking, driving, flying, elevators and tight spaces, crowds, and visiting doctors or dentists.
Often, we think the problem is ‘my fear of driving’ for example, but most commonly that’s a high point of the overall worry that’s become way more obvious than the rest.
When we’re “a worrier” in general it can impact every aspect of life. We get stressed more easily and can become irritable with family, kids, work colleagues etc. We hold back from promotions, often worrying about having to do presentations, attend meetings, etc. In school and college, we have a hard time studying, our concentration is often poor, our panic about exams, presentations, and assignments can be very destructive.
When we don’t understand what’s happening it’s very hard to get control. The good news is lots of people escape from anxiety. My life changed greatly when after decades of living in fear and worry I got the help I needed and started living again. I built my therapy practice, had a family, and started enjoying life so much more.
My advice is: sit down with a pen and paper for a quiet few minutes when you can. Make a list of any time and place when worry is present, or where there’s holding back from something. Be wary of the ‘I’m happier that way’ thinking around avoidance.
Sure, I was happier when avoiding putting myself out in the world too, but it wasn’t really a choice. I was just unaware of the feelings driving my choices. Let’s look at life and see what does trigger bad feelings. Then ask the question is there too much of that bad feeling in life?
If so, congratulations, you’ve just taken the 1st step to real change. You can work on what you’ve noticed. Awareness is powerful.
Have hope. Identify what is a problem. Seek options to improve the unpleasant aspects in life.
I’m always happy to chat about how life can improve so feel free to get in touch if you like.
Have a great week,