Many clients come to me at their wits end without too much hope that they can finally get peace from the anxiety with which they have struggled for so long – often for years on end. They fear that their anxiety is too complicated to sort out.
This is a really normal thing to think about your anxiety – and, ironically, is part of what actually perpetuates the anxiety and keeps it alive and kicking.
At it’s simplest, anxiety can be described as a gap between where you see yourself currently and where you think you want / should / ought to be – so anxiety is kind of a ‘reality gap’. This gap can take lots of different forms. Here a few examples: you may be feeling shy when you think you ‘should’ be feeling confident / you may have made a silly mistake at work which you think you ‘shouldn’t have made because you like to be perfect / you may be renting a property when you always wanted to be a homeowner by this stage in your life. These reality gaps can be small (for example being late for work) or large (for example the end of a long and valued relationship) but the end result is often the same: anxiety.
So does that mean, since we’re not in control of much of our lives, that anxiety is inevitable and a difficult thing to get rid of?
Well, the answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’.
If you believe that the only way to achieve happiness is to be in control of every aspect of your life, then, yes, your anxiety will probably be a constant companion.
However, if you are able to recognise that there are many aspects of your life outside of your control, that this will inevitably lead to uncomfortable thoughts and feelings – but that you can take charge of these thoughts and feelings rather than let them jerk you around and make you unhappy – then you will be successful in managing your anxieties as they arise and attain peace of mind.
The key is being to identify what is inside our control in our life and what is outside our control.
When we focus on things that are outside of our control, we feel frustrated, angry or anxious. In contrast, the more we focus on what’s in our control, the more empowered we are and so our feelings of anxiety reduce.
Here are some examples of where we are likely to be in control and out of control of aspects of our life:
Outside your Control
- Vast majority of your thoughts, emotions & feelings
- Whether or not you achieve your goals
- How good you feel when doing what you do
- What other people say and do
- How others perceive you or judge you
- The future and the past
Within your Control (potentially)
- How you handle your thoughts, emotions & feelings
- How you respond to your memories and to your past
- How much action you take towards your goals
- What you say and do to influence other people
- Whether or not you act like the sort of person you want to be
- Being self-compassionate when losses occur
- How you take care of and look after yourself
Counselling can help you get clearer about your life – in terms of what definitely is not in your control, and what potentially is. Counselling can help you stop being jerked around by your anxiety and other unpleasant feelings like frustration, disappointment and anger and help you exert control in these areas.
In essence anxiety, then, is not really complicated to sort out but involves taking a step back from our lives and understanding why our insides might be twisted into knots of anxiety – and taking control back from your anxiety.
Why not give me a call or drop me an e-mail to see how we can work together to sort out your anxiety?