This is the question clients often ask before coming to therapy.
The simple answer may be:
Therapy should be a priority when your Anxiety is so crippling and debilitating, it makes your day-to-day life nearly impossible. But I strongly recommended seeking help before you no longer have control over it.
Sadly, by then their Anxiety is so deeply ingrained, it takes far longer to recover.
Why do people wait?
There are a few reasons for this:
1. We as humans are attracted to ‘quick fixes’ that COST A LOT OF MONEY AND DON’T WORK (and you may have already learned that the hard way);
2. Because WE CAN’T SEE ANXIETY (it’s not written on our foreheads), we tend to ‘get away with it’ as long as we can;
3. There are always ‘hidden benefits’ to our Anxiety; whether it’s ‘My boss knows I’m anxious so he won’t ask me to present’, or ‘I don’t have to attend her birthday party, she knows I have social anxiety’. As long as these ‘perceived benefits’ outweigh the advantages of change, we won’t seek help.
4. We have positive beliefs about worry.
This may sound strange- after all, how can worrying be beneficial?- but think about it. Have you thought along the lines of:
Worrying helps me find solutions to problems;
Worrying helps me understand problems;
Worrying motivates me to do things;
Worrying prepares me for the worst;
Worrying helps me avoid bad things;
Worrying prevents bad things;
Worrying is doing something;
Worrying shows I care.
Can you see how worrying can seem beneficial? But in reality, it’s not.
6. With Anxiety Therapy, there’s financial (if we’re going for a private therapy) and time investment. Any good therapist will tell you quick fixes don’t work; if you do want to regain Anxiety control, there will be work to do in-between sessions. That alone will put people off- it may seem easier to stay as we are.
There is a big difference between PAIN OF CHANGE and PAIN OF STAYING AS WE ARE.
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To help you make a decision, ask yourself:
1. What would be different if my Anxiety wasn’t an issue?
2. Who would I be, what would I do, what could I achieve (personally & professionally) if I had my Anxiety under control?
3. How is my Anxiety holding me back? (Not asking for work promotions, not asking the person you like out etc);
4. How many times did I escape or avoid important situations because of my Anxiety? (Not delivering work presentations etc);
5. Where would I be, financially and socially, if I had Anxiety under control? Put down numbers; let’s say you didn’t ask for that work promotion- how much did that cost you?
6. How would my life be different if I didn’t suffer from crushing PHYSICAL and PSYCHOLOGICAL symptoms of Anxiety?
7. Are my safety behaviours (choosing to stay as I am) STOPPING ME FROM LIVING MY LIFE TO FULL?
Don’t just think about it- write it down. LOOK AT REAL COSTS OF YOUR ANXIETY.
Can you fix your Anxiety on your own?
If you follow reputable resources, YES.
In the UK, always talk to your GP for advice, and the same goes for other countries.
When you’re going it alone, you do need to stay motivated and disciplined throughout the process. Keep reminding yourself of the end goals and follow the correct protocols for your type of Anxiety.
The absolute number 1 self-help therapy that I, and many other therapists would recommend is: