What’s Your Anxiety and Why?

I was sitting on a green padded stool in my favorite watering hole, when who should pop in but my Long Lost Cousin. Long Lost because we just met again after some fifty years!

He jumped up on the stool next to me and said:

“Hey Cousin, I’ll take a whiskey please. I need one badly!”

He looked very stressed so I ordered him a whiskey and I stuck with my beer.

“What’s the problem, Cousin?” I said distressed by his haggard appearance.

“I seem to be plagued recently by panic attacks and phobias, you know generalized anxiety.”

He gulped the shot down and ordered another!

“I seem to have an obsession to do everything perfectly. I like to be in control of things and I want approval of everything I do.”

“Well, it sounds like you’ve got the traits that perpetuate anxiety. I wish there was a couch here you could lie down on.”

“Never mind the couch, what are the traits?” he stammered.

“Perfectionism, the need for approval and control.”

“How did this come about?’ he said quizzically.

“Well, these traits most likely come from childhood experiences.”

“What do you mean?”

“For example, if you were constantly criticized by your parents, you would feel like nothing you do was good enough. So you would try to do things perfectly.”

“Oh Cousin, I feel so burnt out lately.”

I felt really sorry for this fellow who was my long lost blood relation.

“It’s a vicious circle, Cousin, your perfectionism drives you to the point of exhaustion and burnout! You’re always thinking, “I must” or “I have to”, and then you feel more anxiety.”

My Cousin looked completely drained.

“Why do I need approval all the time?”

“To begin with you’re putting too many demands on yourself. All humans need approval from time to time, but being overly concerned with approval is a sign of thinking you’re flawed and unworthy.”

“I think that the approval and acceptance by others of me is very important.”

“Just say to yourself, it’s not necessary to get the approval of everyone. You need to believe in yourself.”

My Cousin started rubbing his shoulder and neck.

“You’re feeling stress right now, aren’t you, Cousin?”

“Yes, I get a lot of muscle cramps and spasms.”

“What about my need for control?”

“You want life to be predictable, that’s impossible!”

He winced with the pain of a cramp!

“If you grow up with trauma and most people have some in their life, you get frightened and feel the world is hostile, so you get defensive and you want to control things.”

“Help! How do I get off this merry-go-round? Stop the world, I want to get off!”

“Relax Cousin, I’ll give you a list of things to say to yourself that should calm you down.”

“Hurry, what’s on the list?” he said grabbing my arm.

“You need to accept life’s unpredictability, so say to yourself:

I’m learning to take life as it comes.

I will let go and trust that things will work out.

I can relax and tolerate a little disorder in life.

I’m learning not to take myself or life so seriously.”

“Thanks Cousin, that sounds like a good approach to life’s problems.”

I smiled and said:

“You need lots of humor to contend with life.

I enjoy popping plastic bubble wrap, it’s much cheaper than therapy!”

10 thoughts on “What’s Your Anxiety and Why?

  1. Learning to live and be content with what is. Ahh, the secret of life. My desktop picture asks me a question every morning. “Peace or drama. Make your choice for today”….Another way to say it is “Happy or sad”………How about “pleasant or angry”……..The choice is ours to make not just every morning but every minute of the day. It ain’t easy.

  2. Tom,
    My desktop picture tells me:

  3. I,too ,have a #longlostcousin who I didn’t see for almost 50 yrs …we meet up in London from time-to-time and more often on Twitter ….{^_^}

    Sorry,I digress : butterfly mind …mea culpa …

  4. I live by the saying that what other people think of you is their business only and none of yours…..this helps me to deal with every day without all the angst of what others are thinking or saying about me or what I’m doing.

  5. My desktop has the old Ray Bradbury quote:
    ‘Don’t Think, thinking is the enemy of creativity, it’s self conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy’
    Sometimes you just gotta accept things, resistance is futile. We can’t control what other people say, do or think, but we can control our reactions.

    Good post Dave, I’ll know what to send you at Chrimbo..hint, it’s not the gift but the packaging….:-)

  6. Great insight into life. I’m glad you said
    humor because thats what keeps us
    happy these days. Makes us keep on

  7. Hi Dave,
    You have some good advice there. I have to make myself stop when the “I must, I need to” thoughts pop in my head. You are so right, when you say you need to relax. Not always that easy though.
    I do have loads of bubble wrap at home, perhaps that is the answer indeed!

  8. My anxiety kicks in when I make bad decisions and I feel like it will affect my future. I would start to think of the worst case scenario and I would assume that will be inevitable. I would spend do much time thinking and stressing about it instead of focusing my energy in trying to make that decision right. I also don’t take risk because I always worry that it wouldn’t pay off and I’ll have to deal with a difficult situation. I know that I can’t be like this forever, In life we all have to take risks and chances which is why I’ve been searching for ways to overcome it. I believe that I am slowly getting better in managing my anxiety and one day I will be able to live life without being hindered by my worries and fears.

    – Abby

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