Disobey A Glimpse Into A World Ruled By Anxiety

Emma Djukic is a Clincial Psychologist at RWA Psychology – Family Matters. She has a special interest in working with anxiety. To make an appointment with Emma or one of our psychologists’ contact RWA Psychology.

Don’t look anyone in the eye (or something bad will happen)
Tap the door three times each time you walk from one room to the next!
Or…
Avoid public places! Or…
Decline any party invitations! Or…
Make sure that all objects align perfectly with the edge of the furniture! Or…
The world is a dangerous place…you have to keep worrying!
Check and re-check that all the appliances are off before you leave the house. Or…
SOMETHING BAD WILL HAPPEN!!

Anxiety can take many different shapes and forms but essentially the experience is like living in a country ruled by a harsh and (often) unpredictable and (sometimes) bizarre dictator. Propaganda campaigns and tightly controlled media only let certain information through so if you do a google search in this country, for example, you learn that elevated heart beat could lead to a heart attack so you MUST avoid physical exertion, if someone doesn’t return your call they don’t want to be your friend so MUST not try to call them again, the world is full of dangerous germs so when you come home you MUST wash your hands 10 times or you will make your children sick. In this country people live with a constant undercurrent of fear and they quickly learn that the only way to control the fear is to OBEY THE RULES! This may seem sensible at first glance but in the long run obeying the rules gives the dictator the power to impose more rules and over time the world of the anxious person becomes increasingly restricted.

But what if you find a way to get around the tight media restrictions let more information filter through…you could learn for example that elevated heart rate could mean an imminent heart attack OR that this is highly unlikely and probably just a normal reaction to exercise…you could realise that it’s possible that not receiving that phone call could mean that you have lost a friend OR that they simply didn’t have credit on their phone…you could learn that your children could get sick if you don’t wash your hands 10 times OR that less stringent hygiene measures are sufficient to keep your family safe. With this new information you might then start to imagine DISOBEYING THE RULES!

How to Fight Back:

This is the essence of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) that research supports as one of the most effective therapies for managing anxiety. It is about starting to understand that the world as you have been experiencing it through anxiety is distorted, the information that you have been given is inaccurate, that obeying the rules has made things worse rather than better.

But rising up against a dictator requires preparation…so where do you start?

1. Arm yourself with tools – disobeying the rules can temporarily make your anxiety worse so you need to know how to manage symptoms of anxiety. Learning how to relax (through breathing exercises, meditation and so on) will help.

2. Become familiar with the ‘misinformation’ fed to you by the anxiety dictator and learn to identify the inaccuracies – don’t accept information automatically…always question it. If you can change the way you think then you will be more prepared and motivated to move on to the next step…

3. Finally it is time to start the disobeying, slowly but surely breaking the rules one by one and noticing what happens next…and you will start to prove that the dictator had it wrong all the time and your world will become a less frightening place!

Emma Djukic is a child psychologist who works with parents to help them learn how care for themselves and in turn be there for their family. Call RWA psychology for an appointment with Emma or one of our other psychologists.

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