Anxiety can show up in many ways. For some, it’s a racing heartbeat, sweatiness, and panic that strikes seemingly out of nowhere. For others, it can be constant worry about the future, or agonizing over every little decision in life. Or maybe it’s pondering the big questions in life, feeling lost and in search of purpose and meaning.
No matter the form it takes though, it is linked to a fear of the future. To a fear of the unknown.
Believe it or not though, anxiety is actually a very normal, healthy, and necessary aspect of your life. It’s your mind and body’s way of alerting you to danger. What happens for some of us though is that we’ve gotten in the habit of misjudging the threats in our environment, which is what leads to our anxiety acting as a negative force in our lives versus merely a protective one.
In prehistoric times, we could see a predator in the field and anxiety would swoop in to prepare us to fight or flee (that’s an example of anxiety doing a really good job!). Nowadays though, we can have that same level of anxiety activated by… going to a party where we don’t know anyone, or by trying to decipher if we’re in the right relationship, or playing a conversation over and over again in our head wondering if we screwed it up somehow. Therapy can help reduce this displaced anxiety, enabling you to live life without feeling on high alert at all times.
A New Epidemic: The Land of a Million Choices With the freedom and opportunity given to us by society today, comes the responsibility and burden of choosing wisely. The fact that so many of us have a million choices laid out in front of us, so many versions of our lives that could play out, we start to become terrified of choosing poorly. It is proven that when people have an excess of choices available to them, they will experience more anxiety in the decision making process. Some choice is helpful; too much choice can become debilitating. If you’re feeling like this is something you experience frequently, know that you aren’t alone and that it’s symptomatic of our society today. It is possible for you to find peace with the decisions you make though. In time, you will learn that there's no set path you're failing to follow, but rather an open path you're able to freely create.
IN THERAPY, WE'LL FOCUS ON:
+ Listening to and Befriending the Anxiety
When anxiety shows up, it’s trying to send you a message. Instead of trying to fight the anxiety and shut it down, we’ll take a curious approach to it so we can better hear what it’s trying to alert you to. At this point, you’ve probably spent a lot of time fighting against your anxiety and telling it to leave you alone, but I’m going to propose instead that you start to make space for the anxiety so that we can uncover what is driving it.
+ Exploring Origins and Patterns
I want to help you better understand how your past is affecting you today. Each of us learn our coping skills from an early age, so we’ll explore how the anxiety you experience today is linked to how you handled similar experiences when you were younger. By recognizing that anxiety is a pattern of behavior that’s been perpetuated by years of habit formation, you can start to see that the things you get anxious about aren’t as important as you initially thought -- rather, it's the habit of anxiety that's causing you distress.
+ An Existential Approach
Life is full of uncertainty, therefore anxiety is unavoidable. The most important task of therapy then will be to help you change your relationship to your anxiety. Instead of anxiety becoming a disruption and negative force in your life, it can instead become an invitation to explore the new ways to handle anxiety-inducing situations. We'll explore the importance of choice and personal autonomy. The fact that life is uncertain can feel scary, but on the flip side, that means you are a free person who can begin to shape life in ways that bring you greater fulfillment.
Contact me today to see how our work together can help you overcome the obstacles you're facing.
Callye Lawrence | Psychotherapist