Friday, August 14, 2009

Worries, Anxieties, and Fears...

Paul's story is familiar to many. "I have the constant fear and worry that my life is being ruined because I don't know what it is like to have normal, secure relationships with people nor can I just relax and have fun and enjoy. I can't really imagine what it would be like to live and not have anxiety all the time. I avoid all sorts of situations. I often worry about things that aren't all that important and I shouldn't be thinking about them at all. It was just last week that I could not go out with friends because I have this paralyzing fear that I would be hit by a car or something even worse! I worry about people dying, my pet dying, friends leaving me because I am crazy!! Basically, I worry about everything. I have lots of trouble falling asleep most nights because my brain won't shut off. Oh, how I wish I could control what I was thinking so I could live a normal life..."
Notice what Paul has 'struggles' with:
1. Attempted to control or stop worrying...
2. Can't stop worrying even if it does not seem to solve anything...
3. All keyed up...
4. Easily fatigued...
5. Difficulty concentrating...
6. Irritable...
7. Problems sleeping...

Let me offer a radically new way of looking at this problem of anxiety. Thoughts and feelings of fear, panic, anxiety are intense, unpleasant, overwhelming, and often terrifying. But the thoughts and feelings are not the problem! I repeat, the thoughts and feelings of terror, panic, fear, and anxiety are NOT the problem. The problem is the rigid, toxic, avoidance of fear and anxiety. The majority of research today shows that excessive avoidance is the most important toxic element for morphing worries, anxieties, and fears into truly debilitating disorders.
Toxic avoidance of fear looks different depending upon the person or situation. Some avoid people, places, activities, or situations that "make them uncomfortable" and might lead to anxious feelings. Others use substances (three or four glasses of wine will "work", as will Lortabs, etc...) to minimize the effect and 'turn off the brain.'
Einstein (as in Albert) is reported to have said, "problems cannot be solved by thinking within the framework in which they were created..." With this notion let me offer a radical new way to look at the problems of worries, anxieties, and fears. It begins with acceptance. Yes, acceptance...accepting the 'fact' that life is full of situations that lead to fear and worry. Accepting the fact that I am able to face my fear and not allow it to define who I am and how I live! In fact, let me ask a question that all my patients hear: "Is it possible for someone who has SOCIAL PHOBIA to be a successful public speaker?" Of course you know the answer and it is YES! What is the answer? It begins with the attitude of acceptance.
The Serenity Prayer states: "accepting hardship as a pathway to peace and taking this world, as it is, not as I would have it..." That is the beginning of the pathway to serenity.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Click and Watch and Listen and Laugh and Learn

Loading...