When you spend a lot of time coaching people on how to manage their anxiety and panic attacks, you learn early on that the idea that they may be responsible for their anxiety and panic and able to control it, is one that doesn’t fly over too well.
A lot of people would almost seem to prefer that there be something chemically or physically wrong with them, rather than acknowledge or even consider the fact that they are simply over-reacting due to mental fatigue and stress.
It is much easier to believe anxiety is “not my fault”, then to believe you have control over it and can actually do something about it. That implies there is work to be done, and a lot of it – which isn’t something a lot of people want to face or deal with when they are already exhausted and worn down just trying to get through the day.
But there is more to it than that. When it feels as though the world is constantly belittling you, telling you to calm down and that you are being ridiculous every time your nerves flare up (these are all things I heard about my own anxiety disorder), then it almost feels better to believe the anxiety symptoms really AREN’T your fault, as opposed to believing you must be some fragile, overly dramatic person who can’t handle life the way everybody else can.
But we need to get you moved past that way of thinking. The truth is that you probably are a little on the overly dramatic side, and you are more than likely a very sensitive person and that’s okay! Having these traits does NOT mean you are fragile or that you can’t handle life as well as everybody else does. It just means that you handle life – you process and react to life – differently than everybody else does and you just have to learn how to live in THIS world with YOUR unique personality type. It’s not so important that other people in your life understand this, because the truth is that everybody in the world could understand why you have an anxiety disorder and that won’t help you one bit. But it is important that YOU understand this because as long as you continue believing that you are powerless over your disorder, the longer you will BE powerless over your disorder.
The first step to gaining control of your anxiety disorder is realizing how much control you actually have.
Anxiety recovery starts with planting the seed that maybe….just maybe…you really are the one running the entire “Anxiety Production” that is playing out in your head.
You are the producer, writer, director, lead actor, one-man audience, owner of the theater, and critic. You are filling all of these roles all day, every day of your life. None of it can exist without your thoughts and feelings and full participation. Can you see why you are so mentally exhausted?
I know it all feels “real”. I know that it feels like you HAVE to pay attention to all these thoughts and feelings you are having. The minds and imaginations of people with anxiety disorders are amazingly creative and convincing. We have convinced our brains that we are in danger all the time, and at the same time convinced ourselves that we are in danger all the time! It’s pretty impressive if you think about it! It’s one heck of a show we are putting on. But it’s time for the show close, and that won’t happen without you keeping an open mind about how big of a role you play.
Your under-estimation of the role you play, your negative thoughts and reactions, your over-reactions, your lack of faith in yourself, and the fact that you aren’t taking care of your emotional health – all of these things are what is keeping this whole show running every day of your life.
And you are the only one who can shut this production down.
For some specific ways to manage your anxiety disorder and gain control of your life again, see my list of Anxiety Recovery Steps.