Paradoxical Attitude

The Paradoxical Attitude Necessary to Overcome Anxiety

When working on overcoming your Anxiety Disorder, you will see that the normal, common-sense ways of coping with "feelings' don't work. In general, we believe that we do best by following our feelings, using our emotions to guide our actions in life.

In contrast, we need to learn NOT to follow what our anxiety is telling us. I would like you to thing of anxiety as a "pseudo-emotion;" often it is best to try to do the opposite of what your anxious feelings are telling you to do.

Paradoxes in the Treatment of Anxiety

When working on overcoming your anxiety disorder, you will see that the normal, “common-sense” ways of coping with it don’t work. I encourage you to think as anxiety as a “pseudo-feeling;” often it is best to try to do the opposite of what you are initially tempted to do.

  • When dealing with anxiety, don’t trust your feelings. Anxiety is a great bluffer, and will tell you that you are in danger, when you are perfectly safe.
  • When confronting anxiety, less is more.
  • Attempts to avoid anxiety make it stronger
  • The energy used to fight anxiety adds to it’s intensity.
  • Short-term anxiety reduction leads to long-term anxiety increase.
  • Reduction of anxiety in the future requires an acceptance of increased anxiety in the present.
  • Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. Perfectionism, the need to avoid mistakes and the unwillingness to allow the feelings of awkwardness that accompany new activities--these all increase anxiety.
  • Resistance Creates Persistence - the more you are able to accept your anxiety and allow it to be, the more quickly it will start to subside.

Once you have labelled your fear as anxiety, your job is to accept and allow those feelings.

Accept Anxious Feelings

  • Try not to avoid or push away the feelings.
  • Try not to beat yourself up because you are feeling anxious feelings. Think of them as an "allergy" to your anxiety triggers
  • Try not to get angry at yourself, be disappointed at yourself, or feel like a failure because you are feeling anxious feelings. Remember, you are sensitized.
  • This is not a test, nor a measure of how good or successful you are as a person.

Allow Anxious Feelings

  • Try not to run away from the feelings, or fight them off. Try to be gentle to yourself. When you are feeling anxiety, try to be as kind to yourself as you would be to a good friend.
  • Fight the BEHAVIOR of avoidance and escape. Try not to flee. Try not to avoid. Try to be disciplined.
  • Remember that you are allowing the feeling to be, but fighting what the feelings are telling you to do. This requires courage. This requires both gentleness and discipline.
  • Remember that the best thing to do when you feel anxiety is also the hardest. The best way to cope with anxiety is to do nothing. Try to float with the feelings while you let time pass.