The essence of anxiety is worrying about some potential threat. It is trying to cope with a future event that you think will be negative. You do this by paying more attention to possible signs of potential
How avoidance contributes to anxiety.
An illustration of this is when you avoid going to a supermarket to do the shopping because that’s where you you experience fear. As a result you successfully avoid the distress you associate with supermarkets. In the short term, you do not feel anxious. However in the long term you become even more unwilling to confront anxiety. You continue to believe that emotion is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. You do ot disconfirm your catastrophic predictions about what may happen in the shopping centre. You continue scanning your environment sof signals of danger and signals of safety. In this way you anxiety may increase and generalise to other situations.
How safety behaviours contribute to anxiety.
In addition avoidance man people use “safety
Reversing the vicious cycle of anxiety
Vicious cycles play an important role in maintaining anxiety. However, you can turn this cycle around to create a positive cycle that will help you overcome anxiety. One important step in this is gradually confrinting feared situations. This will lead to an improved sense of confidence, which will help reduce your anxiety and allow you to go into situations that are important to you.
Some people might encourage you to tackle your biggest fear first – “jump in at the deep end” and get it over and done with. However, many people prefer to take it “step=by-step’. We call this “graded exposure”. You start with situations that are easier for you to handle, then work your way up to more challenging tasks. This allows you to build your confidence slowly, to use other skills you have learned, to get used to the situations, and to challenge your fears about each situational exposure exercise. By doing this in a structured and repeated way, you have a good chance of reducing your anxiety about those situations.
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