Tag Archives: anxiety disorder

The cause of anxiety


anxious photo

The cause of anxiety

In cognitive behavioural therapy, we refer to the anxiety equation. The anxiety equation shows the cause of anxiety.

Overestimation of the threat

____________________________________  =  Anxiety

Underestimation of ability to cope

Anxiety is always caused by our overestimation of the perceived threat and our underestimation of our ability to cope or handle the situation.

With regard to overestimating the threat – think about a time when you have anticipated an event and got yourself all worked up over it. Then  when you have actually experienced the dreaded event, you have found that it wasn’t half as bad as you expected it to be. Sound familiar?? This is part of the reason why we feel so anxious.

The other part is that we often underestimate our ability to cope. We tell ourselves we won’t be able to do it or that if the feared thing does happen, we will have a panic attack or not be able to manage it. We talk to ourselves in a fearful way that adds to our sense of dread. What we then do is try to avoid the event (which is the worst thing to do) or we find ways that we feel will help us cope by employing “safety behaviours”. Safety behaviours are things that we do that help us to cope temporarily in a feared or stressful situation. For some, it may be carrying a bottle of water or looking at our mobile phone (say for example in a situation where we feel anxious socially, in the company of others) or it could be complete avoidance. The problem is that when we avoid something we fear, the fear grows in our mind and we never test out our beliefs. When we face our fears, we often realise that we cope far better than we thought we would and this helps us to grow in confidence.

Even of the feared event doesn’t go that well, we teach ourselves that we still get through it, that we are still standing at the end of it and in this way we chip away at the fearful beliefs.

So, keep facing your fears. Keep repeating this and the more you face the feared situation, the easier it becomes and the less you will fear it. Start with baby steps if need be. For example, if you truly fear walking in to a room full of strangers ( a 10 out of 10 rating for anxiety, 0 = no anxiety, 10 = most anxiety), start with a 1 or 2 out of 10 anxiety rating. For example, perhaps start out by entering a room with one friend in it, then a few friends in it (slightly higher rating of 3 out of 10), then progress to a room full of friends (rating 5 out of 10 and then finally a room full of strangers)…this is just a very general example of “graded exposure” – get used to each level until the anxiety dissipates and then progress up to higher rating of anxiety of your feared-situation list.

In this way, you will learn to see the threat for what it really is, which is often less scary that you thought it would be and you also learn that you can cope with difficult situations. You will only know this by testing your beliefs out to see what happens!

You don’t need to live with anxiety – learn to challenge your fears. You may need to be out of your comfort zone more often but in the end you will expand your area of comfort and feel anxiety much less often and that is something we would all welcome!

Mandy X



Self pity and wallowing


sadness photo

Self pity and wallowing

Self pity is a normal human reaction to negative events and disappointment in life. In fact, I think it is unhealthy not to allow ourselves a little self pity and sympathy at times. Putting a time limit on self pity is essential though so as not to allow it to overwhelm us and possibly push us into a deeper state of sadness.

There are ways to use self pity to our advantage:

Use self pity to help you grow and to teach you

Self pity is a sign of non-alignment. Of being off track where something isn’t quite working. Use the emotional experience to learn and improve self awareness. Inner peace is within your reach when you choose to harness the experience and learn from it rather than letting it topple you.

Attitude, not circumstance is a better predictor of a fortuitous outcome…watch your interpretation of the world around you. You have the power to choose it and/or adapt your perceptions.

Learn to let go and chill out

Self pity sometimes comes from placing too much pressure on ourselves. Instead of relaxing into it, we resist and create chaos internally by imagining all sorts of problems that may never happen. Learning to be more accepting of “what is” and not sweating the small stuff can lead to less self pity and a happier existence.

Choose positive thoughts about yourself

Instead of self pity, remind yourself of why you don’t need to heap self pity upon yourself. Remind yourself of all your strengths and of how far you have come in life. Never compare your journey to that of others – we all have different learning objectives in life. Self pity comes from feeling hard done by – self pity alerts you to the fact that you are thinking “poor me”. As I said before, self pity is fine but it is also useful in that it reminds you to get ‘aligned’ and adapt your thinking to get you back on track. When you choose the right thoughts you will find less reason to feel self pity and hopefully self pride will take its place.


Just as there are negative things in life, thank goodness for the fact that there is an abundance of good stuff too. Make a point of looking for it. The more we ‘prime’ ourselves to look for positives and focus on good will around us, the more likely we will be to feel happier. Thoughts lead to feelings which lead to our focus/behaviour, so watch your thoughts and the rest should follow.

Self pity is fine as long as there’s a time limit. Its serves a purpose especially if we use it as ‘fuel’ to push us further and see it as a sign that we might be going ‘off track’.

Mandy X