Is my anxiety related to anxiety?
If you are feeling anxious and you get that spinning feeling in your gut, or if you experience panic or anxiety attacks that you just don’t understand the source of, know that there is a valid reason and you can sure enough change how you feel.
What makes you feel anxious externally, may not really be the thing that is causing it. The way you feel is often created by the way you think. The way you think is often created by what you believe and what you believe to be true in the world is created by your experiences in life. It’s a complex and unconscious chain reaction that keeps deep seated anxiety unresolved.
CBT (cognitive-behavioural therapy) methods are a good place to start in changing the way you think, which helps change your perceptions of situations in day to day life and thereby change how anxious you feel.
However, if you have tried CBT for some local short term therapy and it hasn’t completely ‘gotten rid’ of your anxiety, then it's a good idea to start looking for the root cause of what makes you feel anxious.
Counsellors often tend to help anxious clients by having them explore their past. Usually they have experienced some traumatic event (by 'traumatic event' I mean any event that caused a sudden shock to their system) or a series of events that made them feel that they are not safe, they’re not in control, or they can not trust themselves or others.
Now these events could have been as obscure or unrelated to what you think may cause your anxiety. It could have been losing a loved one, being bullied at school, your parent’s divorce, witnessing domestic violence, feeling left out when young, not achieving some strongly desired success. Whatever it may be that led you to feel like the ground you stood on... crumbled.
I also often find that these events have significantly affected their self-esteem. Without healthy self-esteem, one doesn’t feel that they can trust themselves or others therefore issues manifest into anxiety, plus more.
So... how to overcome it?
If you are dealing with long standing anxiety, therapy that is more than 6 sessions (long term) would be recommended. This could be where you are able to explore and address the experiences from the past that have weakened your ability to feel confident and OK in the world.
You can start yourself by reflecting and writing about when you first recall being “anxious”, and ask yourself what other events occurred at that time or before then. What could have happened that knocked your self-esteem or trust in yourself, others or the world?
The ultimate aim of this, guided by a therapist, would be to see how whatever happened to you was not necessarily your fault, but the circumstances at that time or the issues of others involved, and that it doesn’t reflect you as a person. Furthermore, if you did something that broke your own trust, know that you were also doing the best you could at the time. Learning from these events is the most important thing.
With time and unpicking the events in your past along with developing new ways to trust in your life, you can gain confidence, self-esteem and new behaviours to live a more healthy life.
Related articles from our experts
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- Acknowledging our difficulties can turn anger and anxiety into self-compassion
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- Healing From Trauma
Tania Freeman - MBACP registered Creative Arts Counsellor15th April, 2018
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