Is Anxiety Really About Having Control Issues?
Yes, control issues can cause anxiety, but it is much more complicated than that. Anxiety has us feel like we are “out of control.” This is one of its biggest tricks it has to stay in power over us. It is important for us to see how it makes us feel “out of control,” because once it is visible we can do something about it.
Nasty Things Anxiety Says to You
- You are weak because you have anxiety.
- Something bad is going to happen.
- You don’t have the skills to feel better.
- You are not going to be able to handle it.
- You will freak out.
- You will be so uncomfortable.
- You can’t do it.
- You will always feel this way.
These are lies of anxiety!
With Anxiety, Lies Become Your Truths
But, if you have a problem with anxiety, these have a truth status in your mind. You believe them. Probably because you believed them for a long, long time. Or, maybe it started after something bad happened to you. Don’t beat yourself, we all feel this way.
The good news is that we can change these beliefs.
- You are not weak because you have anxiety, is it a biological survival reflex. We all have it.
- Bad things sometimes happen, but Anxiety uses this threat evasively. “If you go there something bad will happen.” I always tell people, to ask the Anxiety, “What bad will happen?” and Anxiety never has a more specific answer. That is because it is lying.
- You totally have the skills to feel better, and are probably already using them, but anxiety is undermining them and making them invisible. Notice them, they will be more accessible to you.
- You CAN handle it. You always survive through it and eventually calm again. ASk yourself what it means not to handle it. (I usually imagine myself going off some crazy cliff ne’er to return. This never happens.)
- We freak out all the time to different degrees and we always recover, but we never freak out as bad as the anxiety tells us we will. We have amazing powers to keep in control.
- Thinking that we cannot do something is our biggest obstacle to not doing it. Anxiety knows this, that’s why it uses this dirty trick. You can do so much more than you think if you had to.
- We are not wired for anxiety permanently, we can change this because it is just changing some beliefs.
What false beliefs is Anxiety telling you?
LCSW-R, J. (2012, February 22). Is Anxiety Really About Having Control Issues?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2012/02/is-anxiety-really-about-having-control-issues
Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R
Reflecting on the worst thing that could happen can be a helpful thing to do because it can help people see that the "worst thing" is really something they can deal with. Sometimes, thought, thinking about the worst thing can do more harm than good, causing anxiety to increase even more because that worst thing can have many negative consequences. It sounds like you discovered that the "worst that could happen" produces even more stress and anxiety. Feel free to put that question aside. Don't judge yourself for it; simply acknowledge that that question isn't relevant to you or your anxiety. Now you know that this concern is serious to you, so you can focus on taking very specific action to overcome it. There are different questions you can ask yourself that will lead you in the direction of overcoming anxiety. Some come from a healing approach called solution-focused therapy and are discussed here: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/06/five-solution-focused-ways-to-beat-anxiety/. Check it out and see if it's something that could be helpful in moving forward.
However, I have been on the receiving end of anxiety issues rather regularly.
Seems to me that, as with most of these problems, people get into a loop where they do something that sets up an anxiety response and the feeling of anxiety causes them to do more of the "something" and the more "something" they do then the more anxiety they feel.
FOR EXAMPLE: let's say a person does not communicate with their partner well. And their partner's behavior causes anxiety. And the feeling of anxiety causes the person to communicate with their partner less. Then their partners behavior causes more anxiety, which causes less communication and more anxiety. etc.
Many people in the above seem to try to suppress their feeling of anxiety. Maybe the solution is to improve communication.
Another example: Let's say children live in a house and like to move people's valuables around from time to time to get attention. The parent respond by giving the children attention (which the children want) and becoming anxious about their valuables. The children respond by moving more valuables around, get more attention and cause more anxiety, etc.
Many people in the above respond by trying to control the kids more. Maybe the better response if for the parent to act responsibly by moving their valuables to a more appropriate place.
my 2 cents.
Thank you for sharing your valuable two cents. While anxiety is complex and both causes and solutions vary, what you describe is a legitimate contributor to some anxieties, and improved communication and interaction goes a long way toward alleviating the anxiety (causes, symptoms, behaviors, etc.). In cases like this, therapists work with people to improve communication skills. Your thoughts are very insightful, and many readers will likely appreciate this perspective.
Keep reading there are tons of good tips here for you! Click on my links if you ever wanted to schedule a phone session.
okay, I guess I should back up. I think I've had ADHD my entire life, and it seemed that anytime I didn't hold myself, back, I'd get in trouble--almost like I thought too fast for people. For example in 1st grade, our teacher was asking us to identify a dinosaur or something, at one point I was like "A T-Rex!...." everyone looked at me, the teacher heard me and was like "who just shouted out the answer before anyone else had a chance??"
By then I was used to getting in trouble thanks to other classmates, and I raised my hand (pretty much automatically) basically to rat myself out before the rest of the class did it for me.... I'm in college and I still tend to have this idea that my ideas/thoughts are too quick, I need to sit and really consider what I want to say before I say it. I end up afraid to participate at all, or do anything at all. LOL.
I've had similar experiences with..sort of emotional/angry outbursts, anytime I "let go" (of controlling my behavior) I did something...kinda violent, that scared adults (usu. hurt other kids)--that only happened a few times but that was enough for me to be like "don't act on impulse."
I still have these same problems..mostly when there are other people around, which has led me to withdraw socially to try to deal with all this myself.
I think I eventually wore myself down trying to control my behaviors/emotions so that I wouldn't get into serious trouble. I felt victimized by all this because it's like anytime I was "myself" (once I started inhibiting these things everything felt unnatural..robotic..) I got myself in trouble. So that became "something is wrong with me."
I ended up getting sent to shrinks and social workers anyways, but not for any of this---for anxiety!
Anxiety that probably was also very unnatural for me, which made it just continue to get worse and worse....
(b/c I didn't know what to do w/ it--it was so unfamiliar, it was almost like "this isn't me!!") It was self-protective. Deal with my emotions internally so I don't hurt everyone around me (which was happening more and more frequently anyways...more guilt, depression, anxiety, etc...)
Any time something I wanted or would do of my own initiative became externalized (i.e. school assignments) they felt obligatory, my whole being automatically was like "don't do it, you don't need these rules, you're not here to please anyone!"--also got me into trouble, was always told I was being oppositional/defiant/etc...but I had no conscious control over that response. So there's where the "no control" part comes from....
Obviously as a kid you're rarely (if ever) expected to just take on big tasks/challenges on your own initiative, so basically without that, I never had motivation to do anything at all. It felt like I was always doing others favors, validating their egos with my "intelligence" (I was "smart" according to almost 100% of everyone around me...oh, until I wasn't.) So to avoid screwing myself over started to feel like "I have to fake it to not get myself in trouble..(with the law?)" lol...
No one ever gave me "space" to deal with all this--really it turned into "I don't have the space to deal with myself", I started feeling like I was "too demanding", "high-maintenance", "too complicated", etc. Hid myself from people even more...
got labeled even more... ("socially anxious", "possible Asperger's", and so on.)
The fact everyone was always so wrong about all this, with EVERY label they placed on me, meanwhile saying none of this is accusational (oh but when I said things I was being offensive and insensitive!!)--made it even WORSE... AGAIN!
haha now I'm in college and I'm trying to deal with/get through all this before I go to grad school carrying all this baggage...some of it is about as old as I am.. :(
So yeah it's about control issues, I think in my case it's that I felt like I thought too quickly for my own good, started to protect my thoughts, ideas, feelings, expressing myself at all...etc...from others...
ugh. all so frustrating....
I need some sort of vacation on a mountain in the middle of nowhere by now or something.
Another completely unreasonable "demand" that turns into me having to compromise anytime I have to deal with another human being! >:( LOL.
Anxiety is what rules that.
The anxiety of me letting others down because to do that makes me a failure and that is the one thing I am the most anxious about.
I have a huge response, which I think will be mostly included in my post on my home blog tomorrow. www.healnowandforever.net. I think you are right about him wanting to control you since he feels he has no control in his life, but this is a perception, we have to teach him where he does have control. (Having it over you is not helpful to him, his brother, or you!)
Thanks so much for commenting!
I am so glad you keep going to work! A routine is very helpful. Some people stop working or take time off and their anxiety gets worse. Unless of course the work context is what is stressing them out. It sounds like it is getting less and less.
1- you don't deserve to be loved however you are trying.
2- You will keep losing the ones you love.
3- don't let anyone get close and know you because if they do, they will leave.
4- You will die alone and no one will notice
5- You're not good enough, God is not happy.
6- you keep upsetting, bothering, annoying people around you
7- you're good at nothing, especially not a good mother and your kids would certainly be better without you.
and a lot more, on a daily basis, but I can now, only since the last 3 or 4 months, stop those thoughts, and tell anxiety to just :shut up!!! But it is still controlling my body. I don't know how i can stop the physical symptoms it gives :(
This works most of the time, but in times it doesn't it is because they are not believed. Affirmations only work if you believe them. So you have to start small. Say something you believe. 'you might be able to handle this' then grow it to 'you can handle this' as your belief in yourself grows! Great tip!
Yes. "Fake it 'till you make it!"
I am so glad that I can give you this relief. Feeling alone just makes everything else worse, doesn't it? Well, there is a community here!