Why Coping with Anxiety Makes Us Anxious

How do we cope with the background factors mentioned in last week’s blog, Causes of Anxiety Disorders? An individual who is sensitive and intelligent will usually develop coping mechanisms to deal with her environment. Following is a list of common responses. A number of these characteristics are highly valued in our society, and this societal affirmation tends to reinforce them. You tend to be very competent …and very dependable You have extremely high self-expectations You have the need to be in control You place a high value on being calm You believe you can handle just about anything You are sensitive to criticism You often see things as black or white You are unaware or in denial of your bodily responses to emotions You pepper your expectations of yourself with “shoulds” In other words, you expect near perfection of yourself. Because it is very difficult, okay, impossible, to perpetually live up to perfection, you become fearful of not living up to these expectations.  All of these high expectations of yourself factor in to intensify your fear of rejection and criticism. And rejection and criticism are more threatening to you then to someone who has a more realistic view of self. Life inevitably presents all of us with stressful situations. The more common of these include work, school, relationships, illness, family and so on. For a person with the above characteristics who has an intense fear of rejection, the stress of most situations is greatly intensified and often seems overwhelming. Our bodies are conditioned to respond to intense stress with the message, “I need a rest”. Those who are aware...

Causes of Anxiety Disorders

This is Part 2 of a multi-part series on Anxiety, its causes and what to do about it. This article describes the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to anxiety disorders.

Facing and Overcoming Fear

I’ve been reading an excellent book called Feel the Fear …And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, PhD. Dr. Jeffers’ premise is that there are multiple levels of fear. Fear is a normal part of life but if it paralyzes us from taking action or prevents us from enjoying life then we need to take steps to manage and reduce our fears. It seems like right now there is an undercurrent of fear with the economy tanking, continual layoffs, companies going under, and a growing sense of uncertainty that any of this will get better any time soon. And what Jeffers states about fear in her book was so helpful that I wanted to comment on it. The 3 Levels of Fear Jeffers says that there are 3 levels to fear. The first level includes all those fears we are able to easily articulate and they fall into two categories; those fears that just happen and those which require action. Examples she gives of those that “just happen” include: Aging Loss of financial security (sound familiar?) Illness, and so on… Examples she gives of those which require action include: Making decisions Ending (or beginning) a relationship Public speaking The second level of fear includes the feelings or emotional state that lie underneath the Level 1 fears. Level 2 includes fears like rejection, helplessness, loss of image, or failure. Jeffers states ‘that these fears’ “reflect your sense of self and ability to handle this world.” For example, if you have a fear of helplessness, you may fear aging or losing your financial security, or you may develop a fear of...