There is an old Clint Eastwood western titled, ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’. The three main characters represent the good, the bad, and the ugly but they are not actually so simply defined; each has nuances and flaws. So too with anxiety. It is also nuanced.
I’m an anxiety expert. I get it inside and out. As a psychologist I see how even moderate levels of unmanaged anxiety can limit people from taking strategic risk and moving forward. Like so many successful people, I have also had to learn to manage anxiety in myself.
Are you under a bit of pressure right now, going through a challenging time? Vibrating with energy? Or are you so stressed you snap at others, move into over control, perhaps heading towards an unhealthy state of mind or body? Are you shutting down? Then perhaps anxiety is walking the Edge with you. And that edge can be good, bad or ugly.
The Good: Anxiety is working for you.
Anxiety is just strong enough to sharpen your senses, your motivation, even your brain. You are in the zone, skimming the edge with everything just a little heightened. Vibrating with the exact tone needed for whatever you do. Anxiety in the good is not really about being afraid, it’s about being ready and alert like an athlete with all senses tuned to the moment, your entire physical and mental system ready to excel. You move in flow. Here anxiety gives you an edge. And you can easily turn it up, down or even off. It’s working for you and with you. But this type of energy can also lead you to half thought out decisions and strategies.
If this is your edge I would be delighted to have a conversation around how to prime, harness and direct this energy in the most effective and meaningful way.
The Bad: Anxiety is getting in the way.
Anxiety constantly nibbles away at your motivation and confidence. It whispers “what if?”, “be careful”, “stay with what you know for sure” (even if it’s not actually working so well for you). This level of anxiety can be very seductive because there is frequently an element of possibility in the “what if worry” as well as “what if I can’t cope?” worry. But only a possibility and you would survive. Frankly sometimes hopes and goals manifest completely differently than first imagined. I’ve written before on how many people struggle with uncertainty. So when you “what if?” yourself into paralysis, you narrow your future or get pushed into a future not aligned with your values and goals.
If you are at the edge and find yourself stuck I would love to have a conversation about how you can move forward with greater clarity and confidence.
The Ugly: Anxiety is bullying you.
Anxiety intrudes everywhere in your life. It takes over your thoughts and your behaviour. It is a bully, demanding more and more time and space until your life closes in upon itself.
Since anxiety is part of the fight-flight-freeze continuum, it can show up as explosive anger, as numbing, withdrawal, or as addictive or obsessive thinking and acting. Anxiety can take many forms but the common feature is that it significantly impedes all parts of your life.
If anxiety slides into this zone don’t be ruled by the bully. Check out some of these resources and contact a trusted professional:
Local Psychological Association
CBT Centre (Vancouver)
Changeways Clinic (Vancouver)
DBT Centre (Vancouver)
We all hit edges. Life happens, the unexpected knocks us down, and we come up against ourselves or wonder if we really even knew ourselves. My passion is helping you put your unique puzzle together, decide where on the continuum you are, how I can work with you, and if necessary direct you to where you might most usefully begin at this time. While your dreams and your intentions can almost always be realized, the precise way they are realized may look different than you first imagined. My clients tell me that figuring this out is energizing and relieving.