Although I have counseled many clients in my career as a Psychologist, I have focused heavily on those who are experiencing significant anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Why you might ask ? Well, being an ex-panic attack survivor myself, I know how much can be done in counseling to take control and eliminate these symptoms.
Now many might think that to have such symptoms must be as a result of some crisis or trauma that would move anyone to feel out of control and result in significant anxiety. So being involved in a tragic car accident, or coming home to seeing your house enveloped in flames, or discovering one of your children had been abducted, would easily cause one to feel out of control. You would be right, such experiences can be overwhelming and I have seen my share.
Then there are those individuals whose lives have been effected by some health crisis that is life threatening or life-changing. That can easily result in sabotaging thinking as it also causes thoughts and feelings of potentially being out of control.
But the vast majority of my clients had no idea what the true cause was and thought there must be something wrong physically and would be seeking medications.
I would discuss other things going on in their lives, and try to discover what conflicts they were experiencing but might be avoiding, that might be the sources of their symptoms. As we talked, more and more would come out and I could see the client getting more agitated over some person or issue that was in their lives, causing conflict and anger, but was being ignored or avoided.
So many times, the trigger for anxiety and even panic attacks , especially for approval-seeking, caring, sensitive people, is that they are avoiding certain persons and situations that are causing stress or conflict for them, but they choose not to deal with it. An overly critical or even narcissistic and abusive spouse, a very emotionally needy mother who does not respect your time and is critical no matter what you say or do, a job that is so unfulfilling but you are fearful of taking the risk of changing… is often the source of anxiety symptoms. In other words, you are avoiding some EMOTIONAL CONFLICT, and when you avoid, you create inner turmoil, and you feel out of control, which brings on symptoms. Then the symptoms become the focus of your attention instead of the source. Just think about it !
Gene Benedetto, Psychologist/Emeritus/Life Coach
The Benhaven Group
Facebook Group: RuledByFear.com