Causes of Anxiety
Over the years I have noticed three predominate causes of anxiety. The first is a traumatic event. One that you remember or one that you do not fully remember. Meaning it has been repressed and you may have a feeling something has occurred, but the details or specifics are missing.
The second occurs when there is conflict between your definition of self and your life choices, and the third is when there is a conflict between your priorities; what you feel you should do, conflicting with what you would truly like to do.
When the cause is a traumatic event, the anxiety that a person experiences is a result of Post Traumatic Stress.
Post traumatic Stress Disorder results in recurrent and intrusive recollections or dreams of the event, or acting as if the event were recurring in the present. It can involve intense distress at exposure to events, people, situations, or objects that remind a person of the traumatic event, or a person has physical reactions to the things that remind them of the event, these things being either objects, people, or situations, or internal feelings, thoughts, or fears, and your reaction is physical. A person might experience a stomach ache, dizziness, feel like they can't breathe, headache, or any number of physical reactions.
If this applies you are being influenced by these events daily through the life choices and decisions you are making, as a result of avoiding anything that may reproduce the same feelings, fears, or stress rather than working through the event and making choices free of fear, anxiety, hurt, depression, shame, blame, low self esteem, or low self-worth. If this is occurring in your life, than you have created a life based on negative emotions. So ask yourself have you created a life from fear? anxiety? low self-worth? Would you like to make decisions from your true self, your vibrant self? You can. It begins with allowing yourself to heal and than getting to know yourself and trust yourself outside of the anxiety and fears.
The second cause of anxiety occurs because there is opposition between your definition of self and the choices your are making in your life. Therefore your life may look like this; I feel I am a confident, honest, happy, loving to myself and others, and a hardworking person, but I feel so stressed and anxious because of work. There is not enough time to get everything done and I feel like what ever I do is not enough and therefore, I am so stressed out and feeling unorganized, overwhelmed, exhausted, and not good enough that my social life, which at this point is non-existent, my family, and my relationships are suffering.
You may be wondering, where is the conflict? At which point, a person would have to take a look at what it is about their job that is so stressful and who is making it stressful and why? Are you putting impossible expectations on yourself? Does your boss put them on you and if so, what is your relationship with this person, or rather what relationship are you recreating with this person?
Did you notice that the character of this story began describing themselves as confident and hardworking? What do these characteristics mean to this person? Does a person need to be stressed out and neglect other areas of their life to be hardworking? Have you ever thought about what your definitions mean to you, because they exist, regardless of you being aware of them or not, and you therefore, create your life from these ideas.
Did you also notice that defining yourself as confident is in direct opposition to feeling overwhelmed and not good enough? This does not mean that you need to define yourself now as not confident, but it does warrant some reevaluation of these opposing views and how they came to be and how we can get them to align once again.
Lastly, we will take a look at what it means to be experiencing anxiety as a result of having a conflict in your priorities. Let's say for example, you are a working mother trying to balance the stress of her priorities; career and being a great mom. We would begin by examining what your thoughts are on these priorities and why they are a priority, aside from the obvious, and explore what your beliefs are about each; how you view your definition of what is a great mom and what is a successful career. As we explore these definitions some factors may come to light, such as, what you feel other people's definitions of a great mom are and how you may have adopted someone else's view, or more likely what you thought may have been their view and confused it with your own thoughts. We would then take a look at how you feel you make these issues of importance in your life a priority, or not, and what is the reality of the situation and what is make believe. Meaning the stories we tell ourselves about others are typically make believe. We made them up from our own insecurities and anxieties. Like, for example, if I'm a great mom then I will send homemade cookies to school with my child for, whatever special occasion is happening, rather then buying cookies to take, in reality I don't have the time to bake cookies. Your definition of a great mom may include the idea that great mom's bake cookies and would take the time and care to do so. Really? Does your child think so? Isn't that the person who needs to think your a great mom? Or is it someone else who needs to think it? Or someone else's priorities you are confusing with your own that is causing confusion and anxiety?
A wise man once said, "Anxiety exists when one resists reality."
No matter the reason for your anxiety, I hope you can now have a better understanding of what may be behind your own anxiety and how we would go about taming it. You can learn to manage your life without feeling overwhelmed.
Are you ready to Stop Worrying and Start Living?
Call Lori Little, MA, Psychotherapist to make an appointment, to answer any questions, or for a Free and Confidential phone consultation, (248)722-2653