When your anxiety takes over, it REALLY takes over. You stop being yourself, and instead, feel like a stressed out mess. Your thoughts continue to jump from one worry to another, and the wheels never stop turning.
Perhaps you’ve tried different strategies to manage these anxieties. You may have gone for a run, drank several cups of chamomile tea, and tried to “logic” your way out of it. But, at the end the day, these worried thoughts keep coming back.
I want you to think of your anxiety as a child (humor me!). This child is trying to get your attention, but is doing so in the loudest and most obnoxious manner possible. Understandably, you react in a not-so ideal way (e.g. frustration, anger, apathy, avoidance). While this may initially get the child to stop, it’s a short-term solution. Before you know it, the kid is acting up again, and perhaps becoming even louder than before. This is because we haven’t actually heard or understood what is making this kid act out in the first place.
When your fears are incessant, it’s impossible to cope. In therapy, clients and I work together to soften these anxieties. We learn to work with these worries and understand what is driving them and what is needed in order for your world to feel safer. It feels like that loud child is suddenly expressing the same concerns but in a quieter tone. We create a space where we can listen to these worries with compassion and curiosity. We explore when these worries first started, and work to unburden our system from these old wounds.
I want to emphasize how appropriate anxiety is to your survival. At some point in time, your system learned that acting like this anxious, loud child was helpful. Worrying excessively may have helped you become a planner, and led to your current success. Perhaps by worrying, you were better prepared in a stressful moment. By overthinking, you may have avoided making mistakes or prevented being in an uncomfortable situation. Whatever the circumstances, your system recognized that worrying led to some sort of helpful result. While this strategy may have been initially helpful, its unfortunately become inefficient and stressful today.
My role in therapy is not to get rid of your anxieties. Instead, I want to help you in creating a better internal system. I’d love to support you in having a better relationship with your anxieties. This way, there is no longer frustration or overwhelm when a worried thought comes up, but the confidence to support that scared and frustrated kid inside.
Want to find out more?