This is our second post in the anxiety series by Mark de Teliga – one of L&L’s coaches and a practicing psychologist and psychotherapist.

In this series, Mark will provide you with direction, tips and tools to help get you through the silly season and even help your productivity at work too. Today we look at ways you could be sabotaging yourself with coping mechanisms.

The paradox of anxiety is that the coping mechanisms people use to try to escape anxiety tend to cause their anxiety to snowball. For example, studies have shown that “normal worriers” and people with a worry disorder tend to worry about the same types of topics e.g., getting cancer, social rejection. However, a key difference is that people with anxiety disorders use types of coping that cause their problems with worry to get worse and worse over time. To solve your problem with anxiety,

To solve your problem with anxiety, you need to identify the types of coping you do that make your anxiety worse in the long run.

You won’t be able to figure this all out today, and most people need a psychologist to help them with this, however, you can start to get your head around the concepts. Here are some of the things people do in response to anxiety that in the long run generate increased stress, weaken self-confidence, and increase intrusions of anxious thoughts. Put a mental tick (or write them down) beside any of these that you do:

– You ruminate (overthink) about problems (You might believe your overthinking is helpful for problem solving, but studies show it generally isn’t).

– Your mind is constantly “going”.

– You find it hard to concentrate upon one subject.

– You think others are judging you in some way.

– You are frightened that others will think you are stupid or dumb.

– You seek excessive reassurance or second opinions.

– You harshly criticize yourself for mistakes and failures.

– You avoid asking for things you want.

– You try to suppress or block out unwanted thoughts (This causes rebound thought intrusions).

– You avoid doing pleasure activities (e.g. you don’t do something fun at least once a day).

– You hold unrelenting standards for your own performance e.g., you always have to get an A or get top of class. (People with anxiety often believe that only achieving their unrelenting standards will allow them to avoid catastrophe e.g., if they get one B or C in a test at school or Uni, it might lead to complete failure; if someone laughs near them, they think that the person is laughing at them; they fear rejection to the point that they won’t do certain things)

– You have rigid rules for how things should be done and apply these to yourself, or to both yourself and others.

– You avoid having routines and structure in life.

– Or, alternatively, you have really fixed routines, and must have your life highly structured.

– You procrastinate doing anxiety provoking tasks.

– You withdraw socially e.g., you find aspects of friendships difficult so you avoid friendships (or the same for romantic relationships)

– You make negative predictions and you avoid situations when there is a small chance of something going wrong, even if something going wrong is unlikely or you could cope if it did.

– You take excessive responsibility.

– You check things too many times or avoid checking (e.g., you weigh yourself very frequently or avoid weighing yourself).

Make sure you’ve (mentally or actually) ticked which of the above you do.

Keep an eye out on Monday for the next post in the series, which will teach you a way to stop self sabotage.

Mark de Teliga is a practicing Psychologist & Psychotherapist as well as a mentor for Legends & Leaders in the Agency/Account Management module. Introduction by Adrianne Nixon, Founder of Legends & Leaders.


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