Anxiety is often a response to circumstances outside of your control. Suppose you are waiting on crucial medical test results. You’ve already taken the test, so your part is done. Now all you can do is wait to hear back from your doctor. But waiting tends to be a challenge for someone struggling with anxiety.
An anxious person replays her last meeting with her doctor over and over again, looking for clues. Or she obsessively researches the Internet, trying to find her own answers before the test results are in. She doubles down on what she can control, even though these actions have zero influence on her test results. This is the way anxiety works: You try to exercise more control in certain areas of your life to compensate for those areas outside of your control. You can’t make those test results come in any faster, but you can compulsively clean your house every day. Unfortunately, having a spotless kitchen won’t influence your medical outcome.
Anxiety pretends to be about one specific thing or another–test results, a business meeting, highway traffic, etc. But have you noticed that, once you deal with one anxiety-provoking circumstance, another pops up to take its place? At its core, anxiety is the discomfort with uncertainty. No matter how much you worry, no matter how much you scrub those kitchen counters, you’re still never in perfect control. You do your best, but things happen the way things happen. It’s less about anticipating and controlling circumstances than it is responding to changing circumstances flexibly, thoughtfully.
Life is a profound misery. Anxiety wants to solve this mystery as quickly as possible. But the only way you can truly solve the mystery of life is to keep showing up, keep living your life from moment to uncertain moment.
Sound a little too familiar? Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issue in the US. A therapist can help a client better define him or herself throughout stressful life transitions and situations, teaching more adaptive ways to manage emotion. In addition, developing a stronger sense of self identity helps the individual remain relatively secure even when powerful emotions and stressors are abundant. Want to learn more? Please call our office at (469)609-7831 or send us an email to discuss how a licensed professional can help. We welcome your call with no judgement.