While suffering from an anxiety disorder you may be resisting overcoming it without even realizing it.The idea of changing the way you think might be scary because at least it ‘feels familiar’ to you.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
You may actually be comfortable feeling uncomfortable. Changing the way you think means that you are taking responsibility for yourself and your own happiness.
Often you look outside yourself or at outside situations as the reasons for your anxiety and unhappiness. The truth is, it begins with YOU.
When you are sympathizing with yourself (feeling like a victim to the anxiety) or coming up with excuses why you can’t go somewhere or do something because of your fears, you may be resisting change.
Stop Using Anxiety As An Excuse
Stop using your anxiety as an excuse for anything because it is limiting your life and making your world smaller.
The anxiety of changing and letting go of unhealthy thoughts and beliefs is much less than the anxiety of living with your fears.
Reasons Why We Resist Getting Help For Anxiety:
1. Negative/skeptical attitude about change
The belief that changing your thoughts is too difficult for you, or that it just won’t work. You aren’t changing because you won’t be disappointed if you try and it doesn’t work.
2. That’s the way I am attitude
You think, “I’m just an anxious person, and I am never going to change.” This type of thinking confirms that your anxiety is who “you are” versus “what you think. ” This is self defeating because we can change the way we think.
When you fell less anxious, you will face your fears. Maybe you’ll go out drive when the weather is better. You will get on the plane when you feel more confident, or be more assertive when you’re stronger. But it doesn’t work that way. Facing what you are afraid of and surviving it is going to weaken your anxiety.
4. Overgeneralizing and intellectualizing
We can be very analytical and intellectualize everything until the process of overcoming anxiety seems too complicated and confusing. This is just a way to resist getting better because it may seem to scary or difficult to change.
5. Nobody really understands me attitude
This comes from a feel sorry for yourself attitude. You think that your anxiety is different than anybody else’s, and that your problem or situation is unique. Getting help isn’t going to make a difference so you will continue to be a “helpless victim” of anxiety.
When I began the process of overcoming my anxiety disorder, it scared me to think, “What if people don’t recognize me if I change? And What if I don’t even recognize myself?”
- I pushed through that fear because the anxiety was too uncomfortable not to. This was just a negative thought I made up.
- The only thing that changed about my personality was my attitude. I learned how to get rid of the negative thinking, and it changed my life.
- I don’t think we can ever change our personalities. One aspect of my personality is that I am a perfectionist. An example is that I have hundreds of pages of notes from books I have read (as a way to maximize my knowledge). I also know that I won’t remember everything if I don’t write it down.
My ATTITUDE towards being a perfectionist in this example is that I don’t stress out over having to know the information. It’s just what I do so I can learn better.
If you ever think, “I just want to get back to the old me, before I had anxiety”, know that anxiety disorder doesn’t just happen out of the blue. It is a result of negative thinking and worrying over a period of time. The old you is what got you into trouble in the first place.
- I was a worrier for some time before I got on a plane that I was “convinced was going to crash.” It was the highly stressful event on the plane that triggered the anxiety disorder. So the way I ‘used to be’ is what contributed to my anxiety becoming a disorder..
What are you GAINING from having this anxiety? You may unknowingly believe that there is an advantage to staying anxious.
These are called Secondary Gains. You are probably getting something out of your negative behavior.
1. Getting Attention
A spouse, friend, or relative ends up going places with you – doing things and checking on how you are feeling. You come to rely on your ‘safe’ person. This attention may make you feel more loved and cared for.
Doing Things For Yourself Gives You Confidence
(Think of how much more fun you would have with this person when the focus of your time does not revolve around anxiety. Also, doing things for yourself is going to free up a bunch of time for both of you- and give more confidence in yourself)
2. Avoiding Making Decisions
There may be decisions in your life that you are struggling with, like changing jobs, beginning a lifestyle of healthy eating, or relationship problems. Maybe you need to be assertive with someone. Staying anxious and depressed is an excuse not to do anything about it.
Making Decisions Decreases Anxiety
(What is the worst possible thing that could happen by making decisions that are important in your life? Having all of this anxiety is not worth putting them off, if it means a better life for you.)
3. Avoiding Getting Close to People
You may think that you are different than everybody else. If people knew what you were really like, they probably wouldn’t like you anyway. You may think that you’re not good enough to be a close friend or have a relationship with someone.
Being Vulnerable Is A Good Thing
(Being vulnerable with someone is an admirable quality. People often feel more comfortable relating to you when you share your thoughts, feelings, and insecurities. Besides, if people don’t like you for being yourself, then spend time with the people who do).
4. Avoiding Things You Like to Do
If you aren’t driving, or spending time with people, staying anxious is a convenient excuse not to put yourself out there.
Doing What You Are Afraid Of Decreases The Fear
(It’s better to work on your problem with anxiety and be able to make a healthy, conscious decision on whether or not you want to participate in something versus avoiding it due to fear.)
- Taking a closer look to figure out what you are gaining from having this condition, may get closer to letting go of these excuses to stay anxious.
- Sometimes it takes a while to recognize what resistance behaviors you are practicing, or what secondary gains you are getting from your anxiety. Try to be patient, and keep an open mind because you deserve to have peace of mind.
What are you avoiding?
by Richard Carlson Ph. D
Richard Carlson shows us how to be happy now, before we solve our problems. He shows us how get through life’s challenges and restores happiness and joy along the way.
There are 5 principles for keeping life in perspective.
If you understand how the principles relate to your life, it will bring a greater awareness to what brings you happiness.
Do not follow the road towards unhappiness in attempt to find happiness.