Tag Archives: anxious

What are safety behaviours?

person looking at phone photo

Photo by UltraSlo1

What are safety behaviours?

We all engage in safety behaviours to differing degrees. A safety behaviour is something we do to provide us relief from anxiety. The problem with safety behaviours is that they only work temporarily and our attempts to self soothe end up becoming a repetitive pattern. The safety behaviour inadvertently ends up prolonging the anxiety.

For example: For someone who finds being in social situations anxiety provoking, they might avoid a social situation altogether. This helps them avoid the anxiety but doesn’t deal with the underlying fear. The threat of social situations stays unchallenged. So the avoidance is the safety behaviour but the anxiety will always be there when faced with a social situation. The anxiety of social situations will remain.

Another example of a safety behaviour: Someone who is insecure in a relationship might constantly check up on their partner by texting and phoning their partner. Initially, once they have checked on their partner, they might feel better…but only until the next thing triggers their anxiety and they need to check again. The need to check will not go away and in this way the anxiety is maintained.

The idea is to reduce safety behaviours, ‘sit’ with the anxiety and realise you can cope without the safety behaviour. This is the correct way to reduce non-productive safety behaviours.

Learning to challenge the threat with using a safety behaviours allows us to learn how to cope with the anxiety. Do what you fear – that’s the basic premise.

Be aware of what you do to reduce your anxiety…do you check your phone constantly? Do you avoid situations you fear? Work at approaching your fears and learning to deal with them. This will improve confidence and help you to be more resilient.

Mandy X


Playing it safe


playing it safe

Playing it safe

Playing it safe is probably holding you back. I come across countless people in my private practice who live fearfully. On one hand, it’s easy to see why. We live in a world where there is constant change and little certainty. We all seek certainty as much as we can and want to feel safe. In fact, feeling safe is often a huge motivator behind most of our behaviour – staying in relationships that no longer work for us or staying in a job that brings us little fulfillment. Insurance companies have never had it so good as we all try our best to insure ourselves against uncertainty. The world is inherently uncertain yet we fight and resist this every step of the way.

On the other hand…What about a radical new approach? How about accepting that the world is uncertain and that despite this we can still flourish and explore? I am not talking about being completely reckless…I am talking about harnessing fear and just getting on with life. The more we believe our fearful thinking instead of challenging it, the more powerful it grows and the less we try fight against it. Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen?

Risk it in love – yes, just do it.We all get rejected and if you never ask you will never know. Even if you are rejected, learn to talk to yourself in an empowering way – it doesn’t mean you are defective, it’s just a matter of not being compatible with someone. It’s not what happens to you it’s what you think about it.

Risk it in life – make that silly joke in public, wear your favourite clothes to bed, wear your favorite perfume every day not just on special occasions, go out with clashing colours on just for fun…live as if you only have a few months/days to live…

Always have a Plan B for sure but then put your fearful thinking away and go for it. Often we overestimate the fear and the challenge and possibly a negative outcome and we underestimate our ability to cope. How will you know if you never try? Don’t be one of those people in their old age that look back with so many regrets. Find out what could’ve happened – do it now.

Speak your mind, tell people you love them, tell people you like them…find another job if the current one doesn’t work for you…don’t stagnate. You will be in the top 10% of the population of people who risk it. You will be ahead of the pack.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and try things, be more afraid of the consequences of not trying and living a smaller less adventurous life.

Mandy X

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)


generalised anxiety disorder


Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD for short) is a common anxiety disorder where a person worries excessively in most situations. Their fear or anxiety is not limited to one specfic situation but is generalized to many different types of situations. GAD often involves a sense of dread and/or doom and “what if” thinking.

Often, people who have Generalised Anxiety Disorder possess positive beliefs around worrying. These, however are erroneous. They believe that worrying keeps them safe from harm and helps them to be prepared. Investigating this idea further usually demonstrates that there are no guarantees in life and that there will often be times when we worry in order to stay safe and events still occur that are beyond our control. “What if” thinking means that the present moment is ruined by feeling anxious over an occurrence in the future that may never happen.

Having GAD leads a person to imagine worst case scenarios and pretty much torture themselves mentally. They live a fearful life in their minds rather than engaging with reality around them.

Ways to deal with Generalised Anxiety Disorder:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a very good therapy to help counteract GAD.

  1. Challenge your thinking

Where’s the evidence that what you are thinking is true? Always ask yourself is there is another way to look at something…is there another explanation?

2. Gain perspective

Are you likely to feel this way in a week from now? A year? What would you say about this if a friend asked you for advice and was in the same situation? Can you add some logic to the picture?

3. Know the difference between what you can and can’t control

A lot of our “what if” thinking is based upon hypothetical worries/events – in that they may never happen. A real worry would be fixing a dishwasher that has packed up. A hypothetical worry would be worrying that someone might not like you if you don’t act in a certain way. There is no obvious evidence for this so it is best to learn to dismiss this thought and not focus on it.

4. Focus externally rather than internally

GAD sufferers tend to be really caught up in their own heads. Focusing on others and the environment can ease worry by focusing less on our fears and insecurities. Consider what other people may be thinking or focus on their behaviour rather than your own.

5. Allocate ‘worry time”

If you absolutely must spend time worrying, try setting aside an hour a day to write worries down and then try to problem solve them and create an action plan. Worrying that goes over the same thing again and again is wasted energy and will not achieve anything.

I have a fridge magnet with this quote on it: “Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere”. So true!

If you cannot control your worries and they are seriously interfering with your life, it might be a good idea to seek professional help and go see your doctor who could recommend counselling/CBT and/or medication.

Mandy X


Why You Are Anxious All The Time


English: An anxious person

English: An anxious person (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I found this article this morning and wanted to share it – very well written and some extremely interesting observations/points about the links between modern life and anxiety…Mandy X

Today, like most days, you are anxious. It is there in the background, always present, sometimes more to the fore, sometimes less so, but never truly banished – at least not for longer than an evening. The anxiety appears to be about some very particular things: the party where you won’t know many people, the complicated trip you have to take to some unfamiliar hotels, the direction of your career, the drilling outside, the email problem, the claustrophobic interior of the plane, your digestive system…

But considered from a broader perspective, the problem for us is larger, more damning and a great deal more fundamental. Beyond any specific thing we happen to be worrying about, looked at over time, a greater conclusion is inescapable: we simply are anxious, to our core, in the very basic make-up of our being. Though we may focus day-to-day on this or that particular worry creating static in our minds, what we are really up against is anxiety as a permanent feature of life, something irrevocable, existential, dogged – and responsible for ruining a dominant share of our brief time on earth.

Tortured by anxiety, we naturally fall prey to powerful fantasies about what might – finally – bring us calm. At certain points, especially in the north, the fantasies latch on to travel.

Here, at last, there would be peace: under the clear blue sky, on the island eleven-and-a-half hours from here, seven time zones away, with the warm water lapping at our feet, and with access to a seaside villa on pontoons, with Egyptian cotton sheets and a refreshing breeze. It is just a matter of holding on for a few more months – and parting with an extraordinary sum.

Or perhaps we would be calm if the house could be as we really want it: with everything in its place, no more clutter, pristine walls, ample cupboards, stripped oak, limestone, recessed lighting and a bank of new appliances.

Or perhaps we will be calm when one day we reach the right place in the company, or the novel is sold, or the film is made or our shares are worth $5bn – and we can walk into a room of strangers and they will know at once.

Or there might be calm if we had the right sort of person in our lives, someone who could properly understand us, a creature with whom it wouldn’t be so difficult, who would be kind and playfully sympathetic, who would have thoughtful, compassionate eyes and in whose arms we could lie in peace, almost like a child – though not quite.

Travel, Beauty, Status and Love: the four great contemporary ideals around which our fantasies of calm collect and which taken together are responsible for the lion’s share of the frenzied activities of the modern economy: its airports, long-haul jets and resort hotels; its overheated property markets, furniture companies and unscrupulous building contractors; its networking events, status-driven media and competitive business deals; its bewitching actors, soaring love songs and busy divorce lawyers.

Yet despite the promises and the passion expended in the pursuit of these goals, none of them will work. There will be anxiety at the beach, in the pristine home, after the sale of the company, and in the arms of anyone we will ever seduce, however often we try.

Anxiety is our fundamental state for well-founded reasons:

– Because we are intensely vulnerable physical beings, a complicated network of fragile organs all biding their time before eventually letting us down catastrophically at a moment of their own choosing.

– Because we have insufficient information upon which to make most major life decisions: we are steering more or less blind.

– Because we can imagine so much more than we have and live in mobile-driven, mediatised societies where envy and restlessness will be a constant.

– Because we are the descendants of the great worriers of the species, the others having been trampled and torn apart by wild animals, and because we still carry in our bones – into the calm of the suburbs – the terrors of the savannah.

– Because visible objects and locations, oak tables and beaches, can only symbolise calm to our eyes rather than instill it in our psyches

– Because the progress of our careers and of our finances play themselves out within the tough-minded, competitive, destructive, random workings of an uncontained capitalist engine

– Because we rely for our self-esteem and sense of comfort on the love of people we cannot control and whose needs and hopes will never align seamlessly with our own

All of which is not to say that there aren’t better and worse ways to approach our condition.

The single most important move is acceptance. There is no need – on top of everything else – to be anxious that we are anxious. The mood is no sign that our lives have gone wrong, merely that we are alive. We should be more careful when pursuing things we imagine will spare us anxiety. We can pursue them by all means, but for other reasons than fantasies of calm – and with a little less vigour and a little more scepticism.

We should spare ourselves the burden of loneliness. We are far from the only ones with this problem. Everyone is more anxious than they are inclined to tell us. Even the tycoon and the couple in love are suffering. We’ve collectively failed to admit to ourselves what we are truly like.

We must learn to laugh about our anxieties – laughter being the exuberant expression of relief when a hitherto private agony is given a well-crafted social formulation in a joke. We can laugh about the terrors of having a body, about the absurd scale of our ambitions, and about how easily we lose perspective on everything.

We should hug; not the forced intimacy or oppressive bonhomie of most modern hugs, but the melancholy sympathetic way Botticelli’s angels do it, having come down to earth to offer comfort to humans for the brute facts of earthly existence:

We must suffer alone. But we can at least hold out our arms to our similarly tortured, fractured, and above all else, anxious neighbours, as if to say, in the kindest way possible: ‘I know…’


Posted by  ‘The Philosophers’ Mail on 9 June 2014 website: www.theschooloflife.com