Archive for April, 2014

How to overcome avoidance behaviours with anxiety

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Well I was going to talk today about intrusive thoughts, why they come and how to let them go, but the draft I wrote yesterday did not save to my computer and I lost the lot, it was a long post and will have to be re-written at a later date now.

Today I am going to cover the subject of avoidance. Some sufferers suffer with this quite a bit, some hardly at all, but I think everyone can get something out of it.

Avoidance can take many forms, people may avoiding social situations, the neighbour, answering the phone. They may turn down invites to meet with friends, not go for the job they want, not join that evening class.

Basically they restrict their own life because they become a slave to the way they feel. Be it too much effort or they have got to the point they hate mixing or that they feel awful or awkward in social situations.

This was me and what I thought at the time is that all I had to work out the magic formula then I could start having my life back, that when this awful thing called anxiety went away then my life could be normal again. The problem was I did not know how to feel normal again, I had tried everything and nothing had worked.

Yet this is what I needed to get my life back on track ‘Do nothing different than I did before anxiety’ it was me that was changing my behaviour !! Hiding away and avoiding things was telling my sub conscious that there was danger here there and everywhere, I could NEVER recover this way. The way to recover was to go against these instincts and do it anyway.

It was like a little voice in my head that would try and keep me safe by telling me not to go here or there or not to put myself in certain situations. Your mind actually thinks it is keeping you safe by doing this, this is a built in thing with everyone and it acts on what information it receives. Someone without anxiety may have been fine with dogs until they got bitten and then avoid them, your mind has picked up on this and will put you in a fight or flight situation when you see one and the more you avoid the bigger the reaction, even when it is a harmless little sausage dog. The only way to stop this fight or flight feeling is to start to mix with dogs again, even when these feelings come. By doing this you are telling you mind your fine now and it stops trying to protect you and leaves you be.

But that voice in anxiety sufferers has been made to be wired up wrong, it seems to go off and totally irrational moments, ones where there is no danger yet we have created this through our own actions and behaviours, if we avoid talking with someone then it is only doing it’s job. So yes we have created this false programing and we can be the one to re program it too.

There is no big secret to change this, all I did was understand that it was me that created this, I was the one who decided to change my behaviour and do things different, so of course my mind just followed and tried to keep me safe, it was me that kept telling it there was danger when there wasn’t, it just went along with what it was being told.

The way I turned it around was simple, I just stopped listening to this little voice, if the phone went off I answered it every time, anxious or not. If I got invited out then I would go, at first it felt odd and I did feel some anxiety, but so what I wanted my life back. If a neighbour approached I would not look down I would walk right up and chat. That little voice that tried to keep me safe was still trying to do it’s job at times, but I just thanked it and told it I was fine. In time this voice and the fight or flight reactions left me, it realised there was no danger there now and there was no need to keep me safe any longer. I slowly but surely reprogrammed myself and was now free to go anywhere with no problems whatsoever. The journey was quite exciting, seeing my life come back slowly but surely, I even got a thrill out of testing myself and seeing me come through and the progress I was making.

It was not always easy and the temptation to hide away was still there at times, but I never did. It was like I was looking down on myself at times and seeing the silliness of hiding away and the things I was avoiding.

This really is how I solved this part of my anxiety, I just went against every instinct and did it anyway. I had the power to change things, we all have. I changed it from being able to do everything before anxiety to avoidance, so I always had the power to change it back again.

Anxiety never stops you doing anything, that is always your choice so don’t be a slave to it. From today if you suffer with any avoidance behaviours the only way to get through them is to just live your life like you did before anxiety and take the feelings with you.

Paul

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