Traits Perpetuating Anxiety and How to Change Them
If you are on a quest to finding a natural anxiety treatment, you first need to be aware of what contributes to your anxiety and what perpetuates it. Individuals who suffer from anxiety often share common character traits, some are positive and some are less desirable. Some of these traits are appreciated by family and friends while others can be annoying. While some traits are probably genetic, others are more likely the result of childhood experiences. These traits often perpetuate the problem with those who suffer from anxiety disorders. Four main traits that perpetuate anxiety have been identified. They are: perfectionism, the excessive need for approval, the tendency to ignore physical and psychological signs of stress and an excessive need for control. Do you recognize yourself?
There are various ways you can overcome perfectionism. You need to let go of the idea that your worth is determined by your achievements and accomplishments. You need to first recognize and then overcome perfectionistic thinking patterns (e.g., avoid the use of should, must, can’t, always, never). Human error happens, you must work at stopping to magnify the importance of small errors. Stop focussing on the negatives (there will always be negatives) and start to focus on the positives. Perfectionists often set unrealistic goals; work on goals that are more realistic. Of course, you need to work, but you need a good balance in life. Get involved in more pleasure and recreation. Finally, play to play, not just to win, so work on the process of things rather than on the final outcome (i.e., having a process orientation as opposed to an outcome orientation).
Anxious people often feel an excessive need for approval, they must be liked by everyone and they work really hard at it. This places a lot of pressure on the person and he/she would benefit best from developing a realistic view of other people’s approval. There is no need to take everything so personnally or to make rapid conclusions about another person’s comment on you. Be realistic. Not everyone will like you and that’s okay. Do you like everyone? Dealing with criticism in an objective manner may be more beneficial, it may become a positive learning experience. A constant need for approval is often linked to co-dependency. Recognizing co-dependent behaviour and then letting go of it is also key. Stop placing other people’s need before your own and it is a first step to breaking away from co-dependent behaviour.
Another difficulty often encountered with anxious individual is their tendency to ignore physical and psychological signs of stress. This can lead to long-term health problems and mental health issues. Individuals who do not suffer from anxiety disorders tend to be more in touch with their bodies. When people are unaware of the toll stress takes on their minds and their bodies, they are at higher risk of illness and burnout. These physical and psychological signs are warning signs that you should slow down. It is important that you become more aware of your own personal signs of stress. For example, signs of stress, but not limited to these, are headaches, backaches, teeth grinding, stomach ulcers, colds, depression, anxiety, mood swings, nightmares, relationship problems, etc. There exists various coping strategies for stress which involve the following: physical and lifestyle strategies; cognitive strategies, emotional strategies, and philosophical/spiritual strategies.
Finally, another character trait we encounter in individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders is the excessive need for control. Somehow, they believe that if they can control a situation, a person, an outcome, that they will experience less anxiety. The problem with this perception is twofold. First, the only person we can control is ourselves. The minute we try to control other people or situations, the more we increase the odds of failing or encountering relationship difficulties. The fact is that the idea that we can control other things but ourselves is an illusion. The best way to address this need for control is to first accept that we have no control. Second, we need to cultivate patience, which means that at times you will need to tolerate an uncomfortable situation. Another important aspect is to come to the realization that most problems eventually do work out or get solved. Clients who have overcome anxiety have also found that developing a spriritual approach to life has helped them greatly, in addition also to mindfulness.
It is important to realize that these traits have become a way of life and will take time to change and will require your commitment. The first step to successful change is to become aware of these traits. In the end, this shift may bring about a domino effect, where you will not only change these traits but also end up changing certain values and beliefs you hold true and you may even change your lifestyle. Priorities may change also. The ultimate goal is to be freed from the anxiety and lead a happy and fulfilling life.
If you liked this article you can find more details on how to cope with anxiety by purchasing the book from which this article was inspired: The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne.
(c) 2010, Dr. Gina Madrigrano. All rights reserved.