This expert contribution has been provided by Ben Elliott from BenElliott.com.au. Ben is a certified NLP and Hypnotherapist in Adelaide, Australia and specializes in helping adults live life more fulfilled, healthier and happier.
On the other end of the phone was a lady who desperately wanted to overcome her anxiety that she has had for the last 3 years. After a brief chat she explained some rather terrible recommendations her psychologist had prescribed her.
Now I’m not against psychologists at all but over the years I have heard some rather poor and devastating advice from all sorts of therapists (not only psychologists but from all fields) on how to navigate through anxiety.
It’s a common scenario that clients come to me after trying multiple therapists and still searching for their cure. I’ve successfully helped people who have had depression for 10+ years in just a few months, I’ve helped people who have had anxiety for their entire remembered life, find a new inner confidence they didn’t realise could exist.
So that conversation made me think of a few recommendations you should never listen to and why!
Poor advice number 1: Practice the anxiety.
I once had a client who was told that when she was in the comfort of her home that she should close her eyes and bring on an anxiety/panic attack on purpose. The theory being she should “Get used to the feeling.” This is WRONG in so many ways!
- You should never have to live with a fear or anxiety. It can be removed from your life very easily and simply when you see someone who knows how to help you move past it forever (sorry to blow my own trumpet but that would be Me or someone like me.)
- When you are feeling a strong emotion you automatically link that feeling to your surroundings. This is called anchoring and was discovered by Ivan Pavlov. What does that mean? No matter what state of mind you were in (Happy, Relaxed, Positive etc) every time you walked in that room it would trigger instantly all the anxiety feelings just as intense. If you have ever heard of people who have phobias of their living rooms… this is how it happens.
- Whatever your brain practices its gets better at. Why practice the feelings of anxiety when you could practice confidence, calmness, a feeling of being in control? The last thing you want to do is get even better getting anxious! It will just make anxiety such an automatic response for your brain to do (and it already does that too much).
Poor advice number 2: Try positive affirmations when having an attack.
It’s the feelings that drive human behavior. In a fearful or anxious state of mind your whole being turns into flight or fight mode. The only way out of this state is to immediately reduce the feelings in the body. There are 4 different ways to do this and it all depends on what personality style you are. To try and talk your way out of this by saying “I am Calm, I am calm” or “Everything is ok, everything is ok” won’t make those fight or flight feelings shift.
Poor advice number 3: Rely solely on medication.
I’m not against medication, I understand that it has a role and for some this is a great part of their plan (although as my favorite sayings goes “You don’t have a headache because your body is low on aspirin!”) In the same way although the medication can help, it doesn’t clean up the reason the anxiety comes on. It’s the unconscious beliefs, anchors, thought patterns and attitudes that create anxiety. Your game plan to remove this forever has to contain these 2 elements
- Fix the mindset that brings on the anxiety. Then…
- Fix the machine (my word that basically means the part of your mindset) that created the anxiety in the very first place otherwise it might come back in the future.
Hope this has been insightful and as always if you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me.
Photo by David Castillo Dominici of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.