“ If my anxiety didn’t nag at me, I don’t think I would be bothered to make any improvements in my life,” said teacher Connie. She wasn’t friends with her anxiety, but she realized that without it pushing her, she would be stagnant and accept a life style that was far different to what she ...
“ If my anxiety didn’t nag at me, I don’t think I would be bothered to make any improvements in my life,” said teacher Connie. She wasn’t friends with her anxiety, but she realized that without it pushing her, she would be stagnant and accept a life style that was far different to what she truly wanted. The motivation to get what she desired came from a place of fear. The fear was that she didn’t have what it takes to make the best of her life. She didn’t believe that she had the personal resources to get what she wanted, and she was skeptical as to whether she deserved it anyway. Her anxiety was the perfect antidote to her lack of self-esteem.

Anxiety is often the fuel that drives your engine, and enables you to undertake the tasks of daily living and accomplish your goals. In this way anxiety provides you with nervous energy to make something of yourself despite lack of confidence or expectations of failure. It acts as the over ride button when you feel hopeless and cannot see light at the end of the tunnel. It also acts as a positive reinforcer by providing a sense of success when you have completed a set of tasks. The cycle of escalating anxiety followed by action and then an experience of completion is an addiction that is hard to give up.

Becky hated free time. If she didn’t have a full agenda that made her drop at the end of a 18 hour day she became agitated. The anxiety would take the form of restlessness, increased heart rate, and sense of futility. She would look for things to do around the house, tackling jobs that had needed doing for a while. She always carried a note book to write in, a crossword puzzle or something that she could focus on while waiting for friends at a meeting place. In the ten to fifteen minutes she may be waiting for a friend to come over, she would dust her ornaments, mop the kitchen floor and tidy her magazine basket. Her friends told her that they felt tired just listening to her recount what she got through in a day. For Becky anxiety propelled her into action so that she could feel good about herself, but more importantly, it gave her a good excuse to escape her deep sadness and sense of inferiority.

Feeling bad about yourself can be debilitating. You can become depressed and immobile when you don’t see a purpose that you are worthy of aiming for. It becomes an even larger obstacle when you feel that you should be able to manage yourself. Often there is a massive fear of being dependent on others. What if you get let down, disappointed, rejected or put way down on the priority list? Those experiences would be intolerable, and make you feel even worse about yourself. So anxiety becomes the tool that enables you to get out of bed, take care of yourself and dare to have goals. Being active and busy is self-rewarding and manages the fear of being needy. It makes you feel proud of yourself and a worthwhile human being.

You can allow anxiety to be your motivator for as long as it works for you. For many that may mean all their lives. But for others, it becomes counter productive. Being so involved in doing, detracts from time and emotional space to savor life. Moments of enjoyment are just fleeting, and are more tied in with pride in achievements than in real pleasure at being fully alive and tuned into the social and natural world around you. It means that you get a pseudo high, that you have to work hard to get again.

One way of beginning to get off this treadmill is to begin to see and hear responses to you with a different set of eyes and ears. When you fill your fuel tank with anxiety in order to get you going, there is no room for taking in praise, appreciation, smiles, invitations to join with others, offers of support and help, empathy and warmth. If you recalibrate your dials, and absorb the positive reactions to you from others, you will feel less inferior and your motivation will come more from a sense of being worthy, rather than to quieten the pounding heart.

Copyright Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Jeanette Raymond has a doctorate in clinical psychology and a masters degree in child, adolescent and educational psychology. She has 20 years experience working with adults, couples, adolescents, children and families. She is the author of 2 books for teachers in the UK.

Dr. Raymond believes that the most important relationship you have is with yourself. She sets the stage for you to begin taking care of your most precious gift and ally - yourself. When you can do that, all else falls into place.

Her specialties include distress that shows itself in the body, feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled, fear of intimacy and loss, anxiety, eating disorders, and self-sabotage. If you mask your unhappiness with food, alcohol, drugs, or sex you abandon yourself. If you try to control it by working all hours, with excessive exercise, being busy, cleaning, and over-achieving you are ignoring yourself. Dr. Raymond helps you speak the turmoil that makes you want to go numb, and helps you find the fertile soil to plant your true seeds and flourish.

Dr. Raymond helps parents and children understand one another, and provides adult couples with a platform for having their conversations out loud rather than silently in their individual heads.

Dr. Raymond runs groups and conducts workshops on dream interpretation. She enables individuals to find their voice so that their bodies don't have to speak with back pain, gastric complaints, hair loss, skin breakouts, panic attacks and sleep disturbances. While emotional wounds can debilitate and prevent you from living a full life, Dr. Raymond collaborates with couples, family members and individuals to gain strength from it. She offers the opportunity to rewrite the internal dialogue that may be self-sabotaging and putting obstacles in the way of having meaningful relationships. She honors you and teaches you to honor yourself in a non-threatening environment, allowing you to unfold.