In my last post I discussed the ways in which long-term anxiety issues can strain personal relationships. I concluded by suggesting their are things an anxiety sufferer can say and do that may help relieve tensions as well as maintain all the good things a relationship has the potential to offer. So, here are my thoughts on the matter.
This post is really about the important people in your life; the one’s you love and who love you in return. When cracks start to appear in such relationships and seem to center on your behavior and your concerns it can be hard to take. Nobody likes to feel judged, misunderstood or blamed. Therefore if the same old arguments keep being recycled without resolution and if you’re starting to feel worse around the people who are most important in your life it’s time to take a deep breath and consider new strategies.
In matters of personal relationship disputes there is rarely any progress without discussion. My first suggestion therefore is for you to take the big decision by acknowledging that your anxiety is having a negative effect on relationships. If you know that tensions arise because you have avoided situations, that you refuse to go places because of your fears, that maybe you’ve cancelled things at the last moment for the same reasons, then it’s evident your role is central. So, instead of waiting for the next argument to develop, choose a quiet time and sit down to talk. It may well be the case that others haven’t helped by pointing the finger and saying upsetting things but try to avoid blaming or you will just go back to square one. Be open. Try to see things from their perspective. Show you understand their feelings and their behavior is affected by your anxiety.
On a day-to-day level, try to replace some of the negative words and actions with things that are more positive. The little hugs and kisses that have been forgotten. The pet names, the kindnesses and gestures you used to have when things were better need to be refreshed and reminded about.
Think of situations and circumstances where you can be together where your anxiety is unlikely to intrude. People who sufferer from anxiety often have a few local places they feel comfortable in such as a quiet restaurant, or the cinema, perhaps even a park or a library. Use opportunities to reconnect and in places where you are less likely to be disturbed.
There are, of course, professional organizations that may be able to help your relationship. Counseling is always an option and is certainly worth considering if you feel your issues go beyond your experience of anxiety.
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Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.