Mandy Kloppers

The main causes of anxiety

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The main causes of anxiety


As long as you avoid your fears, they will continue to exist as they go left unchallenged. There is no reality testing going on and the threat remains. When you avoid situations that cause you anxiety, you will be prone to worrying about whether you can handle it.

To reduce anxiety, it’s important to unlearn the conditioned responses you have learned.

Anxious self talk

Self talk is the inner dialogue – what you say to yourself on a regular basis.This internal monologue can be automatic, meaning we often aren’t even aware of what we are telling ourselves. Thoughts that start with “what if…?” often cause us anxiety. Anticipatory thoughts are often worse than the actual event. Self talk can contribute to a full blown panic attack. Learning to identify the negative self talk is half the battle. When you realise you are doing it, it becomes easier to stop and replace the anxious self talk with more objective thinking.

Mistaken Beliefs

Your negative self talk comes from underlying mistakes beliefs about yourself, others and the way the world is. For example, if you truly believe that life should be a struggle, you might tell yourself that something is wrong when you feel good or when others help you. A belief that the outside world is dangerous or that others can’t be trusted does not promote an attitude or willingness to take risks necessary to overcome fears. Always look for evidence of your mistaken beliefs or assumptions.

Withheld Feelings

Denying feelings of anger, frustration, sadness or even excitement can contribute to a state of free-floating anxiety. This is when you feel vaguely anxious without knowing why. Expressing feelings is a good way to ease anxiety.

Anxiety prone people tend to be more predisposed to being emotionally reactive and volatile and they can develop a tendency to suppress their emotions. This can lead to a chronic state of tension. It is possible to learn to recognise and express your feelings  more easily and frequently. Doing so will substantially reduce your anxiety levels.

Lack of assertiveness

In order to express feelings to other people, it’s important to develop and assertive style of communicating that allows you to express yourself in a direct forthright manner. Being assertive is a balanced approach in the middle of being submissive or being aggressive. A win-win situation where hopefully both parties can get their needs met. Lack of assertiveness will breed resentment and a feeling of powerless which leads to anxiety.

Lack of self nurturing skills

Anxiety is often accompanied with insecurity. This can arise from a tricky unhappy childhood, difficult past circumstances, abandonment and/or neglect. Since a person who has had a difficult childhood has never received consistent or reliable nurturing as a child, they often lack the capacity to care for themselves properly and love themselves. The most lasting solution to childhood abuse is to become a good parent to yourself. Treat yourself with compassion.

Muscle Tension

When your muscles are tense, you feel uptight. Muscle tension can also restrict your breathing. These physical symptoms add to anxiety. An anxious mind cannot exist in a relaxed body so make the effort to relax your muscles. Deep relaxation such as meditation can be very useful.

High Stress Lifestyle

Do you place yourself under a lot of pressure? Are you constantly trying to achieve and feel validation through achievement? This can increase anxiety levels. Learn to take time out and have play time. Don’t take yourself or life too seriously.

Lack of meaning or purpose

A sense of meaning can drastically reduce anxiety levels. Issues of meaningless and purposelessness and their relationship to psychological wellbeing have been dealt with in depth by psychologists such as Viktor Frankl and Rollo May.

Modern life is stressful, there is no way of getting around it but if you are aware of the causes, you can put strategies in place to counteract and reduce anxiety and live a more peaceful, relaxed life.

Mandy X

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