Somehow therapy has become a female only sport. As a man who has been to therapy for anxiety I would like to see that change. I went because I was getting married and setting up locations for a company across the nation and those stressors were manifesting as nasty physical symptoms. After seeing a few doctors I had to listen to their consensus. See a therapist, my symptom were being caused by stress.
I scheduled an appointment because the alternative was to make everyone and everything suffer while I figured it out myself. What I ultimately learned is summed up by this quote, “The greatest battle you will ever fight is internal but you cannot fight it in isolation”. I figured out that everything I suffered physically and mentally was not necessary to make a successful marriage or company.
For those of you wondering why you are experiencing anxiety I offer the following explanation. When our decisions were life and death on the savanna, fight or flight played a strong role. Today we live in a very safe world where those responses go above and beyond the situations we encounter. If you are a bad*#s in a real emergency your stress response is probably too extreme for this safe world we live in.
I once had steel rods pulled out of my bones by a doctor while I was awake. I didn’t whimper, cry, scream or even flinch. Almost exactly 30 seconds after the last rod was twisted out of the bone I past out mid conversation with the doctor. I woke up swinging. First, I apologized to the doctor for taking a swing at him. Then, he explained that the screamers and criers never pass out. It was the big strong men who pass out. If you are feeling extreme pain or stress those feeling are either going into your body or out into the world.
If you are putting stress and anxiety into your body it will eventually manifest as physical symptoms. If you are letting it out into the world we have to make sure we aren’t letting it out on friends and family. Therapist are truly helpful in finding what works for you and keeping collateral damage to a minimum.
My therapist and I found two techniques that really help me to release the fight in my system. When the problem is a circular thought like, “the company’s software isn’t working, I bought it, it is my fault, I have to make the software work, but the company’s software isn’t working” This is a simplified circular thought. These thoughts aren’t usually this direct or objective but you know what I mean. When you can’t sleep because of one topic, you are having a complex circular thought. To break the circle I get out paper and pen (which I refuse to call journaling). I write down the problem (The software isn’t working) followed by a sentence starting with, “the truth is” (the truth is I will either get it working or buy new software). This is usually followed by all the other problems within the problem. Then I lay back down in bed and sleep like a baby log.
The second technique is counter intuitive but it works for lots of people. This takes practice, you do not want to try it for the first time in the heat of the moment. When I feel my fight getting out of control I stop and mentally try to make it worse. I try to charge myself up even more. For someone with social anxiety in certain situation the internal dialogue is something like this, “Look at all these people, H&$* S*$&. I am super freaked out. I am getting more freaked out. My heart is gonna beat out of my chest. These people are gonna eat me alive”. As counter intuitive as it sounds this can calm you right down. This one takes some guidance, don’t try it yourself.
If I am saying anything it is this. If you are experiencing negative thoughts or anxiety you are messing up everybody’s day. Don’t take the next 20 years figuring it out yourself. Start doing something about it. This following link will take you to a therapist who specializes in anxiety and stress management. Read her bio, call, make an appointment. If you read to this point it’s because I am resonating with you. You know it’s time. The words you are looking for in her bio are cognitive behavioral therapy. That is the stuff that is going to help.