The picture in this posting says a lot, but in all seriousness there is so much more to anxiety. Our Atlanta counselors know a lot about anxiety, but do you? If we asked you where your anxiety comes from, what would you say? I’m sure you can come up with a million responses. Your list for your Atlanta counselor might look something like the following:
What causes my anxiety?
- My teenage daughter
- How angry my spouse makes me
- My boss
- Car problems
- My romantic relationships
- How lonely I am
- Being around large groups of people
- My high school reunion
- Work performance
The list could go on, and on, and on. There are many stressors that we face throughout our lives, and they don’t stop. You will always have things to feel anxious about. But that’s where it’s important to realize the truth about where your anxiety comes from.
I know this is going to be hard to hear, but your anxiety does not come from your stressors. Your anxiety comes from your stress which comes from your thoughts and beliefs. Again, I know this might make you mad, but hang in there. You can benefit from understanding this.
The ways we think about our stressors and the beliefs we carry about stressors cause us to experience anxiety.
Here’s an example: Let’s say my car breaks down on Monday morning and I can’t go to work. I’m stressed because I think my boss will get mad and believe that I’m not dedicated to my work and I’m a BAD employee. Notice, I’m believing he’ll think I’m bad. I start stressing because of the stressor (car breaking down.) I start thinking about how horrible it is that my boss is not going to understand. My thoughts stay very negative. My Atlanta counselor would not like how negative I’m being but I just can’t help it. I’m going to lose my job and not be able to afford my bills if I don’t go to work.
Now let’s practice having insight into how my thoughts and beliefs impact my stress. My car breaks down on Monday morning and I can’t go to work. I’m stressed because I think my boss will get mad and believe that I’m not dedicated to my work and I’m a BAD employee. Then I realize that I’m ruminating on negative thoughts. I think “What if my car broke down because God was saving me from an accident.” I thank God that I am safe, and I have a job. I start thinking about steps I can take today so that my boss will understand that I value my job. I make some phone calls, and do my best to take care of work on my phone while I’m at the mechanic. I make plans to work on Saturday so that I can show that I’m working hard, which my boss knows because he gave me good reviews during our meeting last week. I then start thinking about the fact that if my boss was really upset about it, I could just work hard to find another job like I did last time. It took me about a month but I survived it.
See how it’s done? Changing your thinking and changing your beliefs impacts your anxiety levels. Now, using these tactics doesn’t mean you won’t experience stressors, and it doesn’t mean you won’t ever experience anxiety. What our Atlanta counselors would tell you however is that using these tactics will help you reduce your anxiety and manage the tough times. Ultimately, the way we think about something is what dictates our emotions.