As a Hypnotherapist and NLP coach I specialise in working with people suffering from severe anxiety. Very often one of the reasons some of my clients find their anxiety worsens or doesn\'t get any better is because the anxiety becomes all consuming in their life, it becomes a part of their identity so much that their life becomes defined by the anxiety. Understandably so when the anxiety is such a big scary overwhelming part of someone\'s life.
Yet what I often find is that this excessive focus on the anxiety is driven in part by one or more of our essential emotional needs being fulfilled through the anxiety. I have outlined these needs in full here
Quite often it is the need to be creative and challenged or the need to recieve attention or even, ironically, to feel safe or in control that is being met through the anxiety. This happens especially if the anxiety becomes such a concern that most other areas in the person\'s life are left out of focus. The anxiety is then being almost exclusively relied on to have one or more needs met, making it much harder to let go of the anxiety as there is no other obvious outlet for this need to be met. Taking a general assesment of how all your emotional needs are being met is a good first step before looking at what need(s) the anxiety might be unwittingly fulfilling.
By then focusing on that need you can explore options for how you can have it met in other areas of your life, in a healthy way, and start doing that one small step at a time. As an example let\'s take a look at the need for challenge and creativity, which is probably one of the most important for sufferers of anxiety to have met in a healthy way:
So this need is all about exercising and challenging our minds so that we feel we are achieving, progressing and growing. The creative element can also mean we are stimulating our minds and learning how to use our minds in new and different ways as well as coming up with solutions and resolutions. Understanding this makes it quite easy to see how the anxiety can be getting all of these things met especially if there is no other outlet for this need to be met in other areas of your life; By it\'s very nature severe anxiety can cause constant excessive worry and rumination about what might happen in the future which means the mind gets to be very creative in developing stories and possible scenarios. This is of course very mentally stimulating and also means we get a chance to learn new ways to occupy the mind and keep it busy! The other common symptom of anxiety is to actively find new things to worry about, sometimes obsessively or compulsively or to simply self diagnose existing symptoms. Again a wonderful way for us to use our creativity and feel like we are challenging ourselves and also trying to achieve a resolution to our anxiety. Just not a very helpful way of getting this need met! I\'m sure you could find more examples.
So my suggestion is to look at your life and find small, achievable ways to start getting this or another need met in ways you enjoy on a regular basis, ideally involving interaction with other people. This then takes the pressure off the anxiety fulfilling this need making it easier to reduce and manage the anxiety. For example in relation to fulfilling the need for creativity and challenge it could be as simple as learning a challenging card game with someone or debating/learning about a topic that interests you both, learning an instrument, taking an evening class in something that will stimulate and challenge you or finding a DIY task that you know will take some time and will be a bit of a challenge.