Over the past few months the focus of my articles has concentrated on anxiety. A majority of my clients have some undertone of distress associated with worry, dread, agitation, and tension. These feels hinder individuals from stepping in places of freedom in their everyday lives. My clients often describe regular bouts of wondering what if.
- What if I lose my job today?
- What if I run out of money and can’t pay my bills?
- What if I never find someone who will love me?
- What if I contract the same cancer that my dad passed away from?
Anxiety can often present itself gradually. It is normal to feel a little anxious and tension when troubling events happen in our community. It is expected that there will be times of financial instability. If we were to take a survey in the number of people in your neighborhood stressed about finances, more than likely you would find at least 40 to 50% would be anxious about money. Let’s face it unemployment, gas prices, and interest rates to name a few, are inconsistent and challenging to predict. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful and uncertain events in a person’s life. It is a God-given emotion that reminds us to pay attention to what is happening around us. Healthy elements of stress can help us in many ways:
- Work Related: Keep our career goals in a realistic perspective.
- Finances: Identify a financial consultant to manage the volatility of the stock market
- Health: Schedule an annual check up
The above are powerful examples of how individuals can take control of what is stressing them out while acknowledging they are distressed.
The anxiety monster materializes in your life when the emotions are persistent, excessive, and unrealistic regarding work, family, and health. Often clients feel they do not have any options on how to reduce the worry. They worry more about worrying so much. It is a horrible cycle they can’t control. This level of worry will often produce issues with sleep and a depressed mood. Statistics show that about 40 million people suffer from the monster of anxiety.
Fear of the unknown is one of the driving agents of anxiety. I am often reminded of times when my son would be afraid of the dark. He refused to go to bed without a night-light just in case the monster under the bed came out to get him. Consider that the anxiety monster cannot be confronted until you are willing to shine a light on what begins the cycle of worry. My clients have been successful using Cognitive Behavior Therapy. CBT can help individuals identify where they are stuck in negative thoughts that increase their anxiety. For example:
- Overgeneralizing: If you are able to take a relatively small incident, like showing up late to an appointment, and extrapolate that to be yet another failing of yours.
- Negative Filtering: You can only identify the negative and all but ignore the positives in a situation.
- Discounting Positives: This often goes hand and hand with Negative Filtering but can present by itself when you simply don’t allow yourself the little victories and kudos you earn by indicating they simply don’t matter or are not important.
- Emotional Reasoning/Labeling: This is a common distortion in which you may internalize and attach how you feel to who you are or what you want to accomplish.
- Could have/Should have/Would have statement: This is a subtle but very pervasive distortion. It results in a high defensive and rigid thought process that ignores the fragility of humanity and makes life a math equation.
- Internalization/Personalization: You tend to blame yourself for things that only marginally involve or include you or you overlook how your actions contributed in the process.
Take a moment to identify how the above distortions could be of benefit when confronting the anxiety monster in your life. In addition, confront what triggers excessive worry and unrealistic expectations you have placed on yourself. Anxiety is a treatable disorder. You can find peace and empowerment with various methods of therapy. Christian counseling can help you with this process. I would welcome the opportunity to assist you in your journey to peace.