Anxiety: A Distorted Reality?

Gary began working with me shortly after his wife, Jill, asked for a divorce, seemingly without warning. Gary and Jill had married six years earlier and from Gary’s perspective everything was going great. Then Gary began from an unknown illness. Jill became detached and before he knew it, she was gone.

Gary was distraught. He wanted Jill back. He loved her. It became clear that Jill had not been upfront with him, she had been hiding something for their entire marriage. He began to discover that Jill was only interested in money. She had pursued him and married him just for money. His heart was broken and his ego bruised.

It took a while, but after a few months, Gary seemed to be getting better. He had stopped dwelling on thoughts of Jill and had even been on a few dates, but then an email from Jill sent him into another downward spiral. The email was warmer and more friendly than she had sent in the past. This caused Gary to sink into a pit of anxiety and depression.

“I’ve not been sleeping because of the anxiety. I just toss and turn all night. When I do fall asleep I wake up with my heart racing, in a cold sweat” Gary told me. I believed him – he looked like hell!

“Gary, what are you thinking about when you’re tossing and turning?”

“I just wish we were back together, you know, like the before. I still love her so much. Since she sent that email it just made me think maybe she’s come around, maybe we could be together again.”

I was blown away. “Gary, when Jill left you you were practically bed bound – you were so sick. Jill showed exactly zero compassion for you at your toughest time. I remember you telling me that she found it hard to show compassion anyone. She’s told you to your face that she didn’t ever love you. She’s trying to get a lot of your money through this divorce, even though she’s always worked to earn her own. Don’t you think your perception of who Jill is is a little… off? This person you’ve got in your head is not Jill, you’ve made her up, and that’s what’s causing you all this grief – all this anxiety. Your inner self is trying to tell you something. It’s telling you that what you’re thinking is not the case, it’s warning you of the danger of these misleading thoughts. Your inner self doesn’t want you to ignore the truth in front of you and end up pursuing someone who doesn’t love you, or anyone for that matter.”

“But I think she did love me. Deep down she loved me. Maybe if we went to see a marriage counsellor or something. Maybe we could sort it out.”

“Maybe, but that’s not what she wants. You’re not being honest with yourself about what she wants. This anxiety is always going to come along when you don’t accept the reality of what is going on in your life. I guess you keep thinking that if you could just make her see, say all the right things, or make her feel special, she will come back to you, love you and be who you want her to be. But unfortunately that’s just not the case. She isn’t interested in counselling, she doesn’t want to change. You’ve made all of it up and that’s why you’re feeling so much anxiety.”

“Yeah, I know. But it’s so hard to let that dream go, you know?”

“Yeah, I know. But you need to find away to let go of control. Stop telling yourself that you can fix the situation. By trying to control something that you have no control over, you start to feel anxiety. Accept that this is going to be a tough time and then give yourself a while to get over it all, but stop trying to fix it.”

“I can see that now. I want to make Jill into the person I thought she was. I hate who she really is and what she’s done to me, but there’s no way I can make her into who I want her to be. I guess I just need to accept this new reality and stop thinking that I can win her back if I try hard enough. I’m starting to feel better already, empowered you know?”

Anxiety can be caused by distorting the truth of the situation and trying to take control of things that you cannot control. As you can see from my chat with Gary, it takes a simple adjustment of your thinking to go from powerless, confused and anxious, to empowered and strong. If you need help to evaluate what is causing your anxiety and effective methods to overcome your anxiety, give The Linden Method a try. It uses your natural ability to change your brain chemistry to overcome anxiety and panic.

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