Consider the following:
- A student constantly blames teachers for poor grades while refusing to entertain the possibility that poor
study habits cause the low GPA is likely to adhere to those poor study habits.
- A soccer player is benched for poor fitness, but blames the stupidity of his coaches for his benching. However,
throughout preseason this player minimized the impact fitness can have on success on the field. This player’s blind spot lies in his refusal to see importance in fitness.
- An alcoholic who refuses to admit there is a problem probably won’t stop drinking.
- A verbally aggressive colleague who points the finger at others when confronted about the cause of his
anger will continue with his angry ways.
These are clear examples of how ones refusal to accept responsibility contributes to a path of repeated frustration and possibly self-destruction. The actions of the aforementioned individuals are clearly within their control. The student and colleague decide to blame others, the soccer player refuses to put forth the necessary off-season training, and the alcoholic decides to drink. What about times in which the decisions of individuals do not appear to be decisions, rather circumstances, inflictions, or just bad luck? Often is the case with anxiety.
People can experience anxiety ranging from troublesome to debilitating. It can be feel transient or permanent. Most people easily admit that anxiety is unwanted and something they did not choose to experience. It can be due to unforeseen circumstances, but that is not the type of anxiety I’m talking about here. We all
encounter plans gone awry such as poor grades, not making a team, getting fired, or poor weather during a graduation party. What I’m talking about is the type of anxiety that lingers for the individuals who say their anxiety “Has always been there… It is just who I am.” We all have defining personality characteristics and I can imagine it being a rough journey for those whose strongest defining trait is anxiety. If that describes you, I offer the following challenge: Think about taking some responsibility for this trait. Stop assuming “It is just who I am” or it is in my DNA because my parents were worriers. I’m not saying that this is not true. What I’m saying is a change in perspective can be the first
step in moving toward a less anxious life. By unconditionally accepting that the anxiety will always be there, without question, you are binding yourself to the anxiety and anxiety becomes your identity. If you begin the insightful
journey of questioning your role in the development and maintenance of the anxiety then you the might just become better equipped to break away from the anxiety. Below are some common reasons people adhere to anxious feelings and thoughts when something potentially unnerving arises. The scenarios below are common reasons why we hold onto our anxiety. If any of these apply to you, try to consider challenging and questioning these thoughts.
- If I imagine the worst case scenario, when it happens I’ll be better prepared.
- There is some momentary comfort when we think about, ruminate, or dwell on anxious scenarios because it
makes us feel like at least we are doing something about it.
- We trick ourselves our anxiety motivates us. This is true, but not with severe anxiety. On a 1-10 scale where
10 is the highest level of anxiety, levels 4-6 can be motivating. Levels 7-10 usually do the opposite. The higher levels of anxiety often cause us to procrastinate because attempting to work is seen as frightening. Plus significant anxiety is a huge distraction, so even if you are motivated, your production and quality of work is going to suffer because your focus and thinking is clouded with anxiety.
- If you have been anxious for longer than you can remember, the anxiety, despite being problematic, is still
familiar. We become accustomed to anything that is familiar even if it is something we don’t want.
Please feel free to comment, agree, or disagree. I know this topic might be little controversial and I would love to hear others’ opinions.