Why do people struggle to beat anxiety?
Why do people struggle to beat anxiety?
In the last 17 years as a change-worker one of the things most common to my practice is helping people to overcome and beat anxiety. In fact, I’ve literally helped thousands of people with this issue, but here is the interesting thing – most people who come and see me openly admit to having tried many different techniques and approaches before they end up sitting in front of me.
This means I have heard lots of things over the years from chronic anxiety sufferers about the stuff that really doesn’t work so well.
So let me highlight the top strategic themes that people are trying in order to beat anxiety that simply doesn’t work. This way you can avoid falling into those same traps and begin your journey of actually being anxiety free.
First, imagine this:
You find yourself locked in a room with a hungry tiger. The tiger is getting closer and closer prowling towards you. You see it’s jaws ready to open as it salivates whilst staring right at you and you know it’s about to attack. There is nowhere to escape.
At this moment as you began to freak out, how effective would it be if someone simply said to you “just take some deep breaths?”
It wouldn’t work, right? Because some part of you is responding to a primal fear and simply saying take some deep breaths ain’t going to cut it.
What about if someone said to you (as the tiger is about to pounce) “just distract yourself” or “just think positive or try not to think about it?” None of these things are likely to work either because some part of you has marked out this experience as dangerous to your survival.
The majority of people I see who want to beat anxiety report that their previous treatments have all revolved around some versions of:
- Taking deep breaths
- Thinking positive
- Trying not to think about it
- Distracting yourself
However, these are not going to beat anxiety and panic if the experience you’re having has unconsciously been logged (and put in the same category) as ferocious hungry tiger coming towards you.
In fact, more than not working, some of these strategies may even make it worse.
Why won’t these things help you to beat anxiety?
Well let’s look briefly at where anxiety is really coming from. Your mind-body system is likely reacting to your ‘catastrophic thinking about the future’ as though it poses a threat to you.
(It’s not the “future” itself” that’s causing it… it’s your “thoughts about the future” – for more information about this concept check out my other blog “are you really afraid of spiders?”)
Essentially the negative thinking is being responded to as though it were a “tiger” in your mind.
However the thought (in and of itself) is just a thought (a mental image, some internal dialogue or some body sensations) and non-of these really do pose a threat.
However if you spend a lot of time trying to get rid of these thoughts ‘trying not to think about them’ then you’re unconsciously adding to the notion that these thoughts really do pose a threat or really are dangerous to you which will make it harder to beat anxiety.
I.e. why would you need to get rid of something that you didn’t pose a threat?
Which means the more you try to “not think about it” the more you compound the idea that that these thoughts are dangerous to you which continues the anxiety cycle.
I’m convinced that one of the reasons I have been so successful in helping people to beat anxiety over the years is because I help them change the unconscious labelling of these thoughts (taking them out of the category of tiger).
Once we’ve done that successfully you don’t have to do any of those “deep breaths, positive thinking or distracting yourself” techniques in order to be free.
Would you like to be free anxiety once and for all? If so, then schedule your FREE 15-min initial chat where we can explore how this can work for you.
About Howard Cooper
Howard Cooper is one of Britain’s leading ‘Rapid Change’ consultants and Hypnotherapists. Known for helping people to create RAPID shifts in their thinking, Howard rejects the notion that deep and lasting change needs to take a long time.
Drawing on a variety of psychological tools, Howard has supported more than 2,500 individuals over the past 15 years on an international level, regularly bringing about transformational changes to their lives.
His practical, dynamic and innovative approach has helped people from all walks of life and ages overcome intrusive personal phobias, anxieties and issues that they have often suffered from for years, offering his clients a new lease of life.
In addition to his personal therapy work, Howard is a very popular and entertaining presenter on a range of topics relevant to society today and has a huge following amongst his peers through his podcast.
He spent almost two years as the lead psychological presenter on Virgin Atlantic’s critically acclaimed ‘Flying Without Fear’ course, and also appeared as the expert on fear of flying on Channel 4’s documentary ‘Fear of Flying: Caught on Camera’.
He has also contributed to other media appearing on the BBC, in The Daily Telegraph, Daily Express, Sun, CEO Magazine, just some of the media who have documented his successful ability to help people change quickly.