Coping with Anxiety

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I think of anxiety as the result of what our self-defense mechanism within our body creates for us whenever it perceives threat or possible danger. Our past experiences dictate whether a new situation should be regarded as a positive, neutral or negative event. These experiences form a filter which routes the event into any of those categories. The same experience can be regarded as positive by one person whereas another person may process it entirely as negative or threatening – all dependent upon their initial exposure to the event. It is usually the negative events, then, that trigger anticipatory anxiety or worrying.

When I work with clients with anxiety or excess worrying, I invite them to consider that what they are experiencing is this internal warning system that is alerting them of potential danger and that it doesn’t have the capacity to assess if the danger is real – but they, the client, do. Sometimes it is helpful for the client to engage in an internal dialogue with their “warning voice,” thanking it for alerting them and then assess what, if anything needs to be done. Quieting this voice when there is no threat present can be a helpful intervention to alleviating some of the anxiety being experienced.

Worrying and anxiety take us out of the present moment. It has little value, ultimately, in effecting any outcome. It simply steals from the moment and produces a negative emotional state. So what can you do to intervene and reduce the negative impact?

Here’s a quote from Paul Foxman in his book, Dancing with Fear regarding positive affirmation for anxiety recovery: “I will not worry in advance about what might happen. I will live each day, take care of myself, and take things as they come. I will plan for the future but live in the present. I know that anxiety is a normal part of life, and that it is not life-threatening. I will have faith in myself and trust that I can handle whatever may happen. And I will remind myself that whatever happens was meant to be” p. 206.

f you would like to work with me to address these issues, I would be happy to consider that option as well. Please contact me, W. Myles Hassler, MS, LPC, NCC, MAC at 770-242-4437 to arrange an appointment.

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