Do You Have Enough Motivation
to Tame Your Anxiety?

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Motivation is the most essential ingredient to overcoming any anxiety disorder. Without it nothing else will work. And yet, it all too often fails to get a mention.

Motivation is all too often the missing ingredient which would make the difference between success and failure.

Two other vital ingredients that are often also absent are patience and persistence.

I worked in adult mental health in the UK National Health Service as well as periods of private practice during which I mostly treated people who had experienced some kind of trauma.

Over the years I came to the conclusion that, apart from the psychoses, it is a pity that other psychological disorders have come under the 'Health Service' umbrella.

When people think of the NHS they think of medical treatment. For the most part, when someone goes to see a doctor they expect the doctor to do something in order to get rid of the problem.

What the doctor often does is prescribe some form of medication or other treatment during which something is done to the patient by an expert. Either way, usually the patient remains fairly passive whilst this something is done to them. The patient doesn't expect to have to do very much themselves to get better.

With psychological therapies things are very different

woman wading in sea at sunset with slogan You are the only one who can control your thoughts.

Regardless of what caused them in the first place, psychological difficulties - anxieties, low mood, etc. - are controlled by our thinking habits. Therefore they can only really ever be changed by changing those habits.

Therefore, no matter how much a psychologist or other psychological therapist may wish they could do it for you, the bottom line is WE CAN'T.

Our role is only to help you understand how to go about it, maybe guide you through it, teach you techniques that can be helpful ... but in the end we can't do it for you.

Nevertheless, many clients come to us apparently expecting us to be able to wave some sort of magic wand and instantly remove their difficulties for them. We can suggest things they need to do, steps they need to take. Some people get on and do it. Others keep coming back with excuses that they didn't have time, or they forgot.

It is your life we are changing and if you are not willing to put in the required effort to make this happen then why would anyone else?

I realise this may at first glance seem harsh, but it is fact. 

Motivation is the first requirement if any attempt at psychological therapy stands any chance of being effective

But it's not all bad news! Overcoming anxiety only requires you to remember to do it! No struggle, no stress...

"Overcoming Anxiety the Feelgood Way"
Online video course to do in your own home at your own pace,

How often have you made New Year's reolutions? Have you ever kept them beyond January? I know that health clubs and slimming clubs always get a huge influx of new members every New Year because of all those resolutions about getting fitter and losing weight. Only a small percentage are still going by Easter.

It takes motivation to stick at something which is a bit difficult and/or requires you to do things you don't really want to do. But with anxiety it's a bit different:

Motivation for overcoming anxiety habits DOESN'T mean:

  • Watching what you eat (although some people are aware that too much caffeine or alcohol or sugar etc may not make them feel great).
  • Getting up at dawn and going for a run (although you can if you want to). 
  • Sticking to a new plan every day.
  • Having to account for your progress to anyone else

Motivation to overcome anxiety is simply about sticking with it and not expecting too much too fast. After all, the only thing you want to give up is your anxiety habits and that's a plus surely?

All you have to do is whatever you want to do (or have to do as part of a job etc) but in the process you become aware of any negative thoughts or feelings and immediately dispel them by letting your body go Dead Weight and your mind focus on a pleasant thought such as a Calm Scene which you've trained it to have. Both going Dead Weight and picturing a Calm Scene are pleasant to do, so why would you be reluctant?

Additional things which help include doing thinsg which give you pleasure and being aware of the good feelings as you do them. These don't have to be big things, for example you might just:

1. Smell the rain and feel it as it falls onto your palm
2. Watch the rain drops create rings in the puddles
3. Listen to the birds
4. Become aware of the good taste of that biscuit you're eating

You don't have to achieve a goal each day. Just take each moment one by one and do the best you can with it. At the end of each day recall all your successes and times you focused on the good in the little things.  You don't need to recall failures!

Each time a negative thought or feeling gets in you simply refocus onto pleasanter things.

The mechanics of anxiety are very straightforward and simple. The anxieties which cause us problems are all responses which we have learnt at some stage, even if unintentionally.

As with any other learnt response or habit, it can be unlearnt by reversing the process, but you have to actually do it! 

  1. Overcoming Anxiety
  2. Motivation