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anxiety tries to confuse you - surviving my past - tricks of anxiety series

Anxiety tries to confuse you and overwhelm you.

by Matt Pappas

This next trick of anxiety, aka lie of anxiety, is where it tries to do it’s best to confuse you. Let’s explore some ways that this can happen, so we can be aware of this tactic and when confusion does start to enter our minds, we’ll know what’s going on and we can take that power right back.

feeling anxious and worryingRather than focusing on the here and now, using your skills, and breaking down the situation so you can empower yourself, anxiety would rather you focus on anything and everything at the same time and spiral out of control.

So when all this confusion happens, and we aren’t sure what’s happening, who to believe, or what’s going on, we get so overwhelmed with trying to figure everything out at once that we can end up having no energy left to empower ourselves. It’s like that feeling of being so overwhelmed that we just give up and say, “it’s too hard, it’s too much, I’m just too tired of trying”.

When we do that, anxiety gains power. Like I’ve written before, just as trauma builds on itself, healing also builds on itself. In the same way, anxiety builds on itself, it’s cumulative, but so is our fight against it.  It takes a persistent, relentless effort on our part to keep anxiety from gaining or regaining control that it had over us.

So what of this whole confusion thing with anxiety then; well one of the ways it loves to confuse us, is with worry.

We worry about our jobs, our finances, our families, spouses, or friends,  just to name a few. There are so many things in daily life pulling us in a hundred different directions that it’s easy to see how quickly we can get caught up in trying to think about everything at once.

Talk about stress overload! It’s easy to get confused about what to focus on, and then consequently spend more time worrying about trying to think about what we haven’t even thought about it yet.

I think of it as trying to chase a ghost; we’re so concerned with over thinking everything and covering all the bases that we can’t possibly spend enough time in the day covering it all. Then we feel bad and shame ourselves for not doing what we thought we should have done. It feels like you are chasing something that you can’t ever catch.

Another way that we can feel confused, and discouraged for that matter, is when a particular strategy for beating anxiety doesn’t work. It’s true, not every tactic that we have in our arsenal is going t work perfectly every single time. Remember, anxiety isn’t a “one and done” type of thing. It doesn’t just try one tactic to grab hold of us and then give up if that doesn’t work. It will use every trick, one after another until it finds something that works. Then when it has hold of us, it will start using other lies and manipulation, to pile on the confusion, the guilt, the pain, the hurt, everything all at once.

We have to be as relentless in our fight against anxiety, as anxiety is in its fight against us. If one strategy doesn’t work, try another one.

If one of your tactics is to listen to music, but you find that’s not working then try doing something else. Take a walk, call a friend, read a book, do the laundry, or play with the dog. It can be easy to become discouraged when something doesn’t don't let anxiety make you think that you have to worry about everything & anything. - anxiety quotework, and we end up thinking that we’ve lost all the momentum that we previously gained. The reality is though that we have not lost it, we just need to improvise and change strategies now and then.

Another way that anxiety tries to confuse us is with the feeling of acceptance. We have to be very careful with what we refer to as “accepting” when it comes to our survivor journey and living with anxiety in daily life.  We don’t have to accept that being an abuse survivor means that we are doomed to a life of loneliness, despair, and depression. Or, that just because we get divorced, doesn’t mean that we have to accept that as our one shot at true, lasting love.

Insert just about any situation that you can relate too in your life, and anxiety will try and find a way to make you so unsure of yourself, and confused about what and why something happened, that it becomes very easy to get stuck and stay stuck.

It’s important to acknowledge the presence of anxiety, not just ignore it. By ignoring it, we only get temporary relief, if any at all. It will return sooner or later. Try saying something like, “hey there anxiety, I see you. I know that you are here and what you are trying to do”. Immediately by doing that, we start to empower ourselves because we are ready to use whatever skills are necessary to stop anxiety in its tracks.

We are then able to take our focus elsewhere instead of on what anxiety wants us to focus on, and ultimately confuse us with.  It’s okay to use distraction as a good coping skill against anxiety, as long as we first acknowledge why are we are distracting; not just simply ignoring.

By putting our focus on something else, something constructive and healthy, we don’t allow ourselves to be confused with the overwhelming, relentless anxious thoughts.  In time, that approach builds confidence and empowers us for future encounters with anxiety.

Thus dealing with anxiety gets easier, over time. It’s not easy, especially when we first start taking our power back, but man is it a good feeling when you start stringing together a few good days in a row, then a week, and then a couple weeks. Looking back and not remembering the last time that you had a tough anxiety day, now that’s empowering!

You can do it, You are worth it! Never forget that, and never give up!

-Matt

  • Pictures courtesy of Pixabay. Social Media images created by Matt Pappas using Canva
  • Jodi Aman approves this series on Surviving My Past and the weekly Periscope Videos. I encourage you to check out her book and get your copy via her website or on Amazon

Additional Information – Overview on Anxiety and Panic

 

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1 comment

Charlotte Howard May 24, 2017 - 3:58 pm

Matt, this is a great post and I think that some of my clients can relate to this in the sense that they have overcome their anxiety, and that is such a powerful thing. A lot of people constantly ask what they can do to ease their anxiety and I think you nailed it on the head. Check out our blog here: http://yourselftruly.com/blog/

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