Happiness - Two Mistakes to Avoid in the Control of Your Anxiety - Architect Of Your Life

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Happiness - Two Mistakes to Avoid in the Control of Your Anxiety

When we feel anxious, we can make two mistakes—because this unenjoyable emotion is caused by two distinct ideas. Not only does this article aim to introduce these two specific ideas that are at the root of our anxiety, but also the two miskates we'd better avoid in our efforts to control this unenjoyable emotion.

Of all the unenjoyable emotions that darken our lives, anxiety is certainly the most widespread... and perhaps even the most painful.

Like all human emotions, anxiety can manifest itself at various degrees of intensity. The English language has attributed numerous names to these different degrees, which can lead us to believe that we are in front of as many distinct emotions. As a matter of fact, whether we talk about fear, panic, anguish, apprehension, terror, dread, fright, worry, concern, phobia, insecurity, or timidity, we are always refering to anxiety—with only some nuances.

As you can see, there is only a small number of unenjoyable emotions even though there are many words to designate them... which makes it way simpler for us!

The main cause of our anxiety obviously lies in the ideas and beliefs we have in our minds. Indeed, when we feel anxious, we always think two things:

  1. A danger or inconvenience threatens me.
  2. I am more or less unable to conquer it, avoid it, or deal with it.
In consequence, the intensity of our anxiety will not only vary according to our perspective of the size of the danger or inconvenience, but also according to our view of our level of incompetence to conquer it, avoid it, or deal with it. Consider the following examples:
  • Albert believes that a huge danger or inconvenience threatens him before which he feels totally helpless. His anxiety will be maximum.
  • Bernard believes that a huge danger or inconvenience threatens him before which he feels totally competent. His anxiety will be moderate.
  • Christopher believes that a small danger or inconvenience threatens him before which he feels totally competent. His anxiety will be minimal.
  • Denis believes that a small danger or inconvenience threatens him before which he feels fully able to deal with. His anxiety will be very low.
In summary, when we feel anxious, we can make two mistakes—because this unenjoyable emotion is caused by two distinct ideas:
  1. The danger or the inconvenience that threatens us can be larger or smaller than we think; and
  2. Our ability to conquer it, avoid it, or deal with it can be larger or smaller than we think.
Finally, assuming that the above-mentioned theory is correct—which is based on Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy—we can control our anxiety, and still preserve our self-protective caution and vigilance, in a fairly simple manner.

However, since two distinct ideas are at the root of our anxiety, our mental work will necessarily have to be double as well. In other words, when we feel this unenjoyable emotion, we will rigorously do a reality check by asking ourselves the following two questions:
  1. What is the danger which I believe to be threatened and what are its dimensions?
  2. Am I really as unable of dealing with this danger or inconvenience as I think?
Simple enough? Yes—but not necessarily easy. In upcoming articles, I'll provide you with some specific examples so you can see exactly how you can do this. Stay tuned!

By Chantal Beaupre
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