The importance of understanding what exactly anxiety really means

There is so much misinformation out there about anxiety and as it is the area I specialise in with my client work I thought it would be helpful to help clear up just what anxiety is and how it affects those who suffer from it.

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 12:00 pm
Jamie McQuade

We have all had that dreadful feeling in the pit of our stomachs at some point in our life, however, imagine having that feeling from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep (if you’re lucky enough to be able to get sleep).

Add into the mix your mind is racing with negative thoughts, worst case scenarios and the impact it has on you physically along with affecting work, relationships and the list goes on.

That’s why people who have never suffered from anxiety just don’t get it and why the advice they can tend to give such as it’s all in your head, don’t worry about it, tends to make the person suffering from anxiety feel even worse.

The way we all think, which can be positive or negative, affects how we feel and how we feel then impacts how we behave and how we then behave impacts the results we have.

I’ll explain how this plays out with anxiety.

Whether you suffer from anxiety or not we all will experience doubt and it is uncomfortable to feel doubt. But anxiety will trick you into believing that this doubt is a sign of danger.

Once anxiety starts playing its game and we treat doubt as danger we then start struggling with the doubt and we try to get rid of these intrusive unwanted thoughts from our head.

We struggle against the doubt in different ways including trying to stop thinking about it, but that’s like telling yourself you can’t have chocolate and then your attention and focus gravitates more towards thinking about chocolate.

You might ask family and friends for reassurance but that little voice starts telling you that they have to tell you nice things because they care about you.

So, you get sucked in further and further down this rabbit hole with more worry, doubt, fear and the more you struggle the further down you go losing the struggle.

What tends to happen for a lot of anxiety sufferers is that they start to avoid certain situations where they feel this discomfort which triggers their anxiety.

One of the first things I explain to my anxiety clients is that avoidance actually makes your anxiety become more persistent rather than helping to ease it.

By avoiding things, it only gives you benefit in the short-term and then actually gives you more anxiety in the long-term.

It’s easier to see the fear when it is something physical such as if you are afraid of flying and you see the plane you are about to board, social situations and you see crowds of people.

What anxiety sufferers are in fact avoiding is the discomfort, which is actually uncertainty, the unknown.

And the behaviour anxiety sufferers use to deal with uncertainty is worry which their minds see as danger which they need to avoid and get away from.

So, to do that they start analysing situations, conversations, text messages and so in an attempt to remove that uncertainty.

Again, it only gives you short-term relief because anxiety is based on the future with those two words… WHAT IF.

Those two little words suddenly bring back more uncertainty and the result is back to over-analysing again to try and remove that doubt and uncertainty

What I help show clients is how they can start taking back control of their thoughts and how they can develop the tools and the mindset to be able to take back control of their lives and start living the life they want.

Anxiety is a problem, but it is a solvable problem.

Next time I will chat more about how I show clients just how this can be done.

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