(The content below is an excerpt from an early chapter of my Instant Panic Relief program.)
The Addiction Cornerstone
During the time I was trying to end my problems with anxiety, I made a huge realisation that completely changed the rest of my life.
The realisation that I made was that anxiety disorders work a lot like addictions.
I noticed that anxiety disorders are caused in similar ways, they progress in similar ways, and most importantly, they can be stopped in similar ways.
Once I realised that my anxiety was an addiction that I had to break, and not a disease or illness that I had to cure, my progress increased dramatically.
Your Anxiety Addiction
Think back to a time when you had no problems with anxiety.
I’m sure that back then you still worried about things from time to time – that’s normal. But the worries were under control and didn’t impact you in any serious way. So what happened?
- Why did the occasional worries that were normal turn into what your anxiety problems became?
- When did it happen?
- What caused it to happen?
Those things happened because your anxiety became an addiction.
I know that sounds strange, but I believe it’s the answer in almost all our cases.
Think about more typical addictions:
Why do most of those addictions start?
In almost all cases, those addictions start because someone tries them, likes them, and then gets hooked on the way they make them feel.
With the more typical addictions I just mentioned, it’s not surprising that people get addicted to them and can’t stop. Drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, and gambling are all pleasurable, so wanting more of them isn’t surprising.
But where’s the pleasure in anxiety, you’re probably asking?
There’s no pleasure in anxiety, you’re right. But there is pleasure in worrying, and that’s where our anxiety addictions begin.
Why Worrying is as Addictive as Drugs and Alcohol
With an anxiety disorder, you worry all the time. But here’s the thing: people without an anxiety disorder worry all the time too.
Because worrying is addictive, in exactly the same way that those other “typical” addictions are.
When you worry, you get a sense that you’re doing something positive. When you worry about a problem, it’s as though you’re doing something constructive to help the problem.
This is especially true with problems that are impossible to solve.
When there’s something wrong and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it, worrying is sometimes all there is.
Or, as another example, when there’s a problem you absolutely don’t want to deal with, worrying is a great way to seem like you’re doing something, when in reality you’re just procrastinating.
When Worrying Becomes Chronic Anxiety
So all people worry. And to a certain extent, all people are addicted to worrying. But in some cases, like yours and mine, the worrying progresses into something much bigger and much worse.
I believe that a big reason why you experience anxiety the way you do is because you’re addicted to worrying.
When I realised this in my own case years ago, it made instant sense to me.
I realised that I needed the worry. I depended on it. I was scared to imagine my anxiety disorders without it. Without the worry, I thought, it would just be the anxiety and the panic, with no way to cope with it.
The worry, in many ways, is a lot like the compulsions in OCD.
In OCD, the compulsions (like hand washing, door checking, counting etc.) are the ways your mind copes with the anxiety or panic. It’s like an automatic response to the anxiety.
The compulsions in OCD are one of the ways your mind tries to make you ignore the horrible thing that’s happening: the panic.
Worry works in the same way. It becomes your instant and natural reaction to anxiety.
Something makes you anxious and you start to worry.
You worry about the thing that made you anxious, you worry that a panic attack may strike you, you worry about what might happen next. You worry about anything you can because worrying is better than dealing with the panic.
The worry-reaction to your anxiety is bad on its own, but there’s a much darker side to it, and it’s this side that’s doing the serious damage.
Since worrying is an addiction when you have an anxiety disorder, you worry even when there’s nothing to worry about, and even when you’re not anxious or panicky.
That’s the true sign of an anxiety addiction.
What that means is that your mind never gets a break. The anxiety is either there already, or it’s not there and you bring it back because you’re addicted to worrying. And worrying always leads to panic.
An End to the Anxiety and Worry Lies
One of the symptoms of a more typical addiction like alcoholism is not stopping drinking even when you know it’s doing serious damage to you.
But that’s something obvious like alcohol, which we all know can cause serious damage.
Something like worrying seems so harmless.
And that’s what this addiction cornerstone is all about. I want to help you make the same realisation that I made several years back: that worrying is an addiction, and that it can ruin things in just the same way that any addiction can.
Now that you know why worrying is an addiction that leads to more and more anxiety, it’s up to you to recognise the dangers and to do something about it.
Someone addicted to cocaine knows the damage it’s doing to them, but they carry on anyway, and to everyone else it seems nuts that they’re not stopping.
You’re now in a similar position to someone who is addicted to cocaine, or alcohol, or gambling.
You now know that worrying is a dangerous addiction, and that unless you stop it you’re doing serious damage to your body and mind.
Beyond the Anxiety Cornerstone
Like all the other cornerstones in this program, this one doesn’t ask you to do anything in particular.
These cornerstones are about getting your mind to work in new ways ahead of the main program, where the real work will be done.
So all that you need to do next is keep all the things in this cornerstone in your mind as you work through the program. I designed the program to help you overcome many things, and one of them is your addiction to worrying.
This cornerstone, as with all the others, will give you momentum so that when you get to the part of the program that deals with how you think and worry, you’ll have a massive head start.
You’ll also notice that right away you’ll be looking at your worries in a new way, questioning them, looking to see what they lead to and what damage they might be causing.
And that’s a great thing, so don’t battle it when it happens.