anxiety

Fearful days

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There is so much to do. Get out of bed, put on clothes. Go to the bathroom, get breakfast. Taste it while you prepare for another day. Getting inside your car, being aware of the cars snailing away in front of you. Then work, all these tasks that must be done.

The day is coming to an end. I have run back and forth, from one meeting to another, from one anxious patient to one anxious nurse trying to manage all the anxiety floating around us. Is fright what wakes us up in the morning? The uncertainty about all these tasks we must do? The fear of not making it?

What do we do when everything stops? Is there a safety net for us, with holes that we might fall through? Sometimes people jump, and land on the net without bouncing away. But sometimes they just fall and fall.

I just read a paragraph in a new book from one of my favorite authors (Lars Saabye Christensen).

“When you first have gotten a son, you can never lose him”

We can never lose our memories, they can be forgotten, altered and kept away, but they will still be there, somewhere. We can`t undo what is done, and the faces we have seen in the past, are etched into our mental canvasses. We remember how people look when they are afraid, and we want to soothe them and ourselves fear appears. As time goes, and anxiousness gets replaced by calm, we know that we made it through another day. When we wake up next day, we know we already lived through the day before. We have new memories to build on, new experiences. We can`t loose what we already have. We are anxious that we can`t do everything that is expected of us, but we already have. We have always done our best.

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A fresh look at social anxiety

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Social Anxiety

A FRESH LOOK AT SOCIAL ANXIETY

Social Anxiety, like so many other “anxiety disorders”, is not really about anxiety. If we look a little deeper there is almost always something else at stake…

Anxiety as Substitute Emotion

Quite frequently, anxiety acts as a substitute emotion that takes the place of the real issue that therapy needs to focus on. Anxiety is to our internal dilemmas, as loss of consciousness is to alcohol consumption. Both serve to shut down something in order to keep us safe.

In the case of alcohol consumption, loss of consciousness prevents us from drinking more and thus from dying of alcohol poisoning. It is our body’s inbuilt safety mechanism.

Similarly in the case of anxiety: I become anxious because I cannot contain some truth, some emotion, or some problem in my conscious awareness. The danger is here the danger of my own awareness, which has the power to destroy me psychologically, just like alcohol can destroy me physiologically. My anxiety indicates that I am not at peace with myself or that some admission of a banished truth or feeling would have dire consequences for my current self-understanding.

Social Anxiety as a “Disorder” of Shame

In the case of my social anxiety, the danger to my self-understanding is activated in relation to others. Others are perceived as passing judgments on aspects of my natural, spontaneous self.

However, the judgment I expect from others is already a judgment that I have passed on myself. Only if I have come to dislike or devalue some aspect of myself, can others now be in a position where they can expose this most shameful part.

What is at stake in social anxiety is thus the public shaming of an aspect of myself, which I am unable to love. This is why labeling social anxiety an anxiety disorder, is really to get lost in the symptoms, rather than to understand the cause. Social anxiety is not really about anxiety, but is about shame and self-worth.

A Cure through Love

Shame, of course, develops in and through my interactions with others. As French existentialist, Jean-Paul Sartre has stated, “For me the Other is the first being for whom I am an object; that is, the beingthrough whom I gain my objectness”.

Who we feel ourselves to be is thus always tied to the many ways in which others have reacted to our internal experiences and natural self-expressions. When these reactions have been kind and affirming, we have internalized a sense of love and acceptance, and when they have been critical or invalidating, we have internalized a sense of shame or wrongness.

To truly rid myself of social anxiety is thus not simply to conquer a fear, but to develop compassion for myself. One must often revisit moments in one’s memories where other people’s reactions to me, hurt me or made me feel dangerously exposed.

These wounds to our sense of self must now be attended to, rather than hidden away for no one to see. In my opinion, this is how good therapy can help you get to the bottom of what social anxiety is really about. Therapy provides a new kind of validating relationship in which all parts of you can be seen, and in which you can now see yourself through the eyes of an “other” who no longer judges you for being yourself.

About me: I am Rune Moelbak, Ph.D., a psychologist in Houston, Texas with a different approach to psychological issues. Learn more about myinsight-oriented approach to treating social anxiety.

 

Protected: The sound of release

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Welcome, Mr Anxiety. Feel completely relaxed

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Have you ever been afraid of the dark?

You’re Not The Only One

Anxiety disorders refer to a high prevalence group of problems, which include excessive levels of fear and anxiety. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress, threat, or danger and often serves us well. It enables us to deal with threatening situations by triggering the fight/flight response so that we can take evasive action. However, it is when this response is persistent, excessive and interferes with our functioning in daily life that it is referred to as an anxiety disorder; at this point a psychologist or counselling service may be required.

  • Excessive Worry/Generalised Anxiety: This is characterized by excessive anxiety and worry lasting 6 months or more. It is accompanied by central nervous problems including bodily tension, restlessness, irritability, fatigue, poor concentration and sleep disturbance. Worries usually relate to education, work, finances, safety, social issues and often minor issues such as being on time.
  • Social Phobia/Social Anxiety: Persistent fear of situations in which we are exposed to possible scrutiny of others, such as public speaking engagements, social gatherings or communication with the opposite sex. This form of anxiety elicits fear of intenseElettroshockfinalsolution_by_LucaRossato_flickr panic in such situations and avoidance of or escape from social environments
  • Panic Attacks: This form of anxiety can manifest in sudden, intense and unprovoked feelings of terror and dread often culminating in heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath and an out of control or very frightening feeling. When we suffer this disorder we generally discover strong fears about when we might experience the next panic attack and often avoid places we feel we might have a panic attack or where escape may be difficult such as movie theatres, shopping malls or social gatherings.
  • Obsessions and compulsions which are characterized by persistent, uncontrollable and unwanted feeling, thoughts or images (obsessions) and/or routines or repeated behaviors(compulsions) in which individuals engage to try and prevent or rid themselves of anxiety provoked by the obsessions. Common themes through compulsions may include repeated actions such as; washing hands or cleaning the house excessively for fear of germs or checking something over repeatedly for
    PTSD
    PTSD

    errors. When we are caught in the cycle if obsession and ritual our lives are constrained and our time otherwise used for living is consumed.

  • Post Traumatic Stress: Witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event including severe physical or emotional trauma such as a natural disaster, serious accident or crime may expose us to the risk of post traumatic stress. Post Traumatic Stress can be characterized by thoughts, feelings and behaviour patterns that can become seriously affected by reminders of events, recurring nightmares and/or flashbacks, avoidance of trauma related stimuli and chronically elevated bodily arousal. These reactions mat arise weeks even years after the event.

Anxiety treatment at Sydney Emotional Fitness also covers specific phobias, a related disorder to Panic. Specific Phobias involve marked, persistent and intense fears about certain objects or situations. Specific phobias may include things such as enclosed spaces, encountering certain animals or flying in airplanes. Exposure to the feared situation or object usually elicits a panic attack leading to a tendency to avoid the feared object.

For all information about Anxiety TreatmentPsychologist CounsellingAnger CounsellingGrief CounsellingAnger ManagementRelationship CounsellingStress Management and Depression Treatment in Sydney, or any of our services that may assist you in leading a more rewarding life please call us on 1300 790 550.