Last September I went to see the Broadway musical, “The Book of Mormon”. Before the show started my friend and I noticed that Will Ferrell was sitting right down the row from us. After the show, as we all filed out of the theater, I was probably about five feet from him at one point and, naturally, I debated whether to speak to him or not. This sent me into a pitch of anxiety: my heart started racing, I got breathless, I noticed I was trembling a little and feeling hot and a tad bit sweaty. For a moment I thought my best opener was to say, “hey, we have the same birthday!” (which we do, off by just one year) but this sounded decidedly stalkerish in my mind. In the end, I let him pass by me and disappear into his Hummer Limo in peace.
I’m always grateful for experiences like this because they help me understand what so many of my clients with anxiety struggles deal with every day. For many of them, those very symptoms can be induced by a crowded grocery store, driving over a bridge, being in a confined space, using public transportation, or the simple task of talking to a stranger. The difference in my experience and theirs is critical though. When I felt all of those anxious feelings I didn’t think they were dangerous, I thought it was perfectly natural to become flustered and anxious in the presence of such comic greatness! But for so many of my clients, when they feel their hearts racing or they become sweaty, they think they are in grave danger. David Carbonell (an expert on anxiety) calls this the way “anxiety literally tricks” us.
Sally Winston (another anxiety expert and my colleague at ASDI) said this at a meeting today, “Anxiety itself is neither helpful or hurtful, it is our response to anxiety that is helpful or hurtful”. Treatment for anxiety begins here; with understanding that effective anxiety treatment focuses on our responses to anxiety symptoms.
Perhaps now is the right time for you to get treatment for your anxiety.
For more information:
My David Carbonell quote comes from the first page of this fantastic website: www.anxietycoach.com