How Your Anxiety Hurts Your Spouse and Children

The snow was piling up and Maggie paced the floor. She was so anxious, she started to feel as though she were getting a heart attack. One time, she went to the E.R. thinking that she really was having some kind of cardiac episode but after a night full of tests, they told her she was “just” having a panic attack. Just. Harrumph. They should only have one and then see if they still have the nerve to say it’s “just” a panic attack, she thought. These things are not small potatoes. And now it was happening again. She kept looking out the window. “Where is he?” She repeated to herself almost like a mantra. “Where is he?” It started to look almost like a choreographed sequence: First, she’d look out the window; then she’d pace a little; then she’d repeat her question to no one there, and then back to the window. When Ethan walked in the door, she shrieked. Then Maggie threw her hands over her face and burst into tears. Ethan was 1 hr. 15 min late. Given the weather conditions, that wasn’t bad. But for Maggie, the first minute he was not home on time, the worrying began. Ethan cradled her in his arms. They’d been through this before. “It’s a good thing you married me,” he crooned, “because I understand you.” “Yes, you do,” Maggie sobbed, “so you know why I got frantic when you weren’t home on time.” Your Anxiety Hurts Others Ethan smiled benignly. He could afford to be relaxed. After all, he knew where he’d been. He only got equally upset...

Overcome Anxiety By Doing What You Hate

Marlene had to admit that a lot of her anxiety was born of a sense of childish entitlement which went something like this: “I’ve had an awful life, so I’m entitled to cut corners here and there to make it easier on myself.” The result was that she had bounced a check. And this wasn’t, unfortunately, the first time. “If I’m going to turn my life around and ditch this foolish anxiety problem, then I simply have to force myself to do my checkbook regularly. There is no excuse for this,” she said to herself. As she stood on line at the bank, Marlene had an “Ah-ha!” experience. It came to her, with an unheard-of forcefulness that if she could get control of her anxiety so well—and she was, indeed, feeling a lot better—she could get control of some of the things that had triggered her anxiety in the first place. She had absolutely hated balancing her checkbook. It was the most boring, annoying act on earth. It took up so much time, and invariably she made countless arithmetical errors. That’s why her way of coping had been to always keep enough money in the account to protect herself from situations like this one. Obviously, it was not a good enough system because something had gone wrong. She finished with the banking and as she headed toward the door, she noticed a brochure for getting online banking. Sure enough, with this free program, she could keep up to date on her account daily. She retraced her steps and headed over to a desk to sign up for it. From...

Overcome Anxiety With Positive Thinking

When Marlene started the steps to anxiety reduction, she didn’t realize that her anxious behavior was accompanied by negative thoughts. What she learned was that these thoughts actually propel the anxious feelings and behavior. She had to do some quiet reflection to recognize those underlying thoughts, and eventually she was able to pin them down. Then, she had to challenge them. Here are the arguments she came up with for each one: “There is always an end to misery,” “I need to get calm so I can think of a solution; there is always a solution,” “Being human means you have problems.” Meanwhile, she was practicing deep breathing along with visualizations. She thought of a lovely mountain cabin she had once stayed at on vacation. She carefully filled in the picture with the plants, the furniture, the trees, everything about that cabin. When she got into it, she could smell the mountain air and hear the birds cawing. She was amazed to notice how nice and relaxed she would become when she did this. Then, one day, a check bounced and, out of habit, she retreated into her usual pattern. “Now I have an extra charge,” she moaned, “and there isn’t enough money to cover it! What will I do? What will I do? Oh, God, why does this always have to happen to me? I hate this!” She started breathing rapidly; she started to sweat. Marlene began to feel faint. She collapsed on a chair, weak at the knees, her head swimming. This is a common reaction to stress. Neurons in the brain fire in the old patterns...
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