There is no emotion more deadening than the anxiety that evolves out of the fears in life. Anxiety comes from many places within you. It arrests your life as it steals possibilities and deceives your competence. It would have you think little of yourself and even less of your potential.
Anxiety wants you in a corner, hiding in a heap of paralyzed stillness; not attempting, not pursuing, not deciding. Episodes of anxiety attacks can be mild or severe and are marked by trembling or shaking. You feel like you can’t breathe and your heart is pounding out of your chest. You feel dizzy or faint. You start to sweat and may feel nauseated. You fear a loss of control of yourself or that you will die, or both.
Although you think you will not survive these attacks, you will, you do. You must try to breathe through it, keep breathing as deeply as you can. It will pass. The attack will end. The symptoms of anxiety are often the result of fears that possess you – fear of embarrassing yourself, fear of appearing stupid, fear of not being able to stand up for yourself. You may avoid situations you fear. Persistent anxiety may signal unresolved issues in the past or present. It can occur when new situations alter your current life.
Bryon Janis, the American Classical pianist said, “The first thing I had to conquer was fear. I realized what a debilitating thing fear is. It can render you absolutely helpless.” Fear can only dethrone you as the ruler of your life if you permit it. Don’t succumb to its deception that you’re weak and worthless. Promise to restore yourself, befriend yourself, and rally support. There are many successful treatments today for persistent anxiety and anxiety attacks that I can point you in the direction of, just ask.
If you have suggestions or aids that have helped you manage fears or anxiety, please share them. Your comments may help others. –Dr. Sandy
Where do most people who want to change their life tend to get stuck in the process? Choose the answer you believe is correct: A. They get stuck because they don’t know how to change others so their own lives get better. B. A snow-bank. C. They get stuck because they don’t know another way to handle things or people. D. They get stuck because some people in their life just don’t get it.
Correct answer is C.
Author E. E. Cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” Many people desire to make positive changes in their lives but get stuck because they don’t know how to handle things differently. It’s scary to think of life any other way than how we’ve been living it, even though it’s been far from a picnic. It’s scary to examine what we learned in childhood surroundings that may be incorrect. It’s scary to take a look at what we assumed to be normal. It’s scary to face what’s wrong and not working for us. But when we blame other people for our unhappiness, keep doing things we firmly promised not to, fail to do what we decided to do, then we begin to understand that we don’t know how to fix the mess our lives are in. We realize that we’re no longer able to soothe our fears and hurts. There remains nothing left to pull out of our hats. And we’re left stuck because we know no other way to think, feel, and act.
We know we’re unhappy, but we don’t know what to do differently. With all we’ve done with our attempts to be in control, we can no longer control our own sadness, which has no doubt reached a miserable level. We focused on solving problems that couldn’t possibly be solved with the ways we were trying to solve them. And when we failed to fix these problems, feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and even anger multiplied. All our inadequacies and all our hurts joined our self-doubts which we spent an enormous amount of time hiding because we needed to appear competent and in control. Marriage and Family Therapist Robin Norwood writes, “Most of the insanity and despair you experience comes directly from trying to manage and control what you can’t.”
So what would you do? Please share your suggestions on improving situations and making positive changes. –Dr. Sandy
One summer night during a severe thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small son into bed. She was about to turn the light off when he asked in a trembling voice, “Mommy, will you stay with me all night?” Smiling, the mother gave him a warm, reassuring hug and said tenderly, “I can’t dear. I have to sleep in Daddy’s room.” A long silence followed. At last it was broken by the boy’s shaky voice saying, “The big sissy!”
Fears of the unknown can cause total havoc in life. As a rule, men worry more about what they can’t see than about what they can.¹ We have a need to know; a need to be prepared–a need to control. But reality tells us that we also have a need to learn to live with uncertainty. When life is sunny, we do not worry if we will be able to handle the happiness or get through the joyful experience. There are few frets when life unfolds as we planned. We feel in control of our lives.
Likewise, when the storms of life occur we need to believe that we will handle the havoc and get through the unplanned. We can not see what tomorrow will bring. In fact, there are oodles of things we can not see or have future knowledge of despite the control of details in the present.
Remind yourself that whether today is sunny or stormy, you will and can handle whatever knocks on your door and survive it.
If you have found this post helpful, please pass it on! -Dr. Sandy
¹ Julius Caesar, Roman General and Statesman, 100-4 B.C.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “We have all heard the story of the animal standing in doubt between two stacks of hay and starving to death.”¹ Well, I never heard that story, but it creates a good image of what the fear of decision making can produce. The dread of making the wrong choice can keep us immobile as we watch opportunity go by.
Does the possibility of making a mistake paralyze you? It shouldn’t. Your worth and significance isn’t dependent on your lack of errors. Making mistakes doesn’t indicate there’s some abnormal level of inadequacy within you.
People are respected and valued because of their character, not their lack of mistakes. This is an imperfect world with imperfect people. Strive for excellence but don’t be surprised when mistakes happen. Errors provide insight into what needs improvement or change, but errors never indicate your inadequacy as a person. –Dr. Sandy
Our real enemy is neither war nor poverty. Our greatest opposition isn’t the economy or people with differing opinions. Our worse enemy is the inner critical voice that resides in each of us. It’s that voice that will not allow our success, security, or peace.
In the 16th century, Sir Thomas Browne became aware of this inner woe. He was an English polymath and author of varied works which revealed his wide learning in diverse fields including science and medicine, religion and the esoteric. He wrote, “But how shall we expect charity towards others, when we are uncharitable to ourselves? Charity begins at home, this is the voice of the world; yet is every man his greatest enemy, and, as it were, his own executioner.”
Our opponent is not the stock market or threat matrix; it’s the echo of self-degrading comments that arrests any love or kindness towards ourselves, and therefore; towards other people. We must break free. What are your thoughts, your comments, about where do you stand with your real enemy today? -Dr. Sandy
From the book Think, author Simon Blackburn writes, “Only when we see ourselves properly can we obtain control over the direction in which we would wish to move.”
Are there limits you are placing on yourself today that really lack evidence of being true?
Some people think that personalities can not change—that a person’s traits are permanently imprinted at birth. The truth is that personality is really just a sum of beliefs, opinions, conclusions, and attitudes which can, and do, change throughout life.
Maintaining a belief that you can not change will have a negative outcome on the likelihood of producing changes in your life. Research shows that the expectations of people have an effect on what they do or do not do.
If you think that you can not do something, you will search for proof that you possess that limitation and can not do it. You will be tempted to seek confirmation that you are inadequate.
If fear was not present, what would you pursue differently? If you did not fear failing at it, or appearing inadequate, what would you do? -sn