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Why Do Situations Get You Anxious?

Barking dog. Billy Smith Counselling, Cornwall.

The lockdown has provided time to reflect. To consider. To take stock.

Notwithstanding the personal and social tragedies of the loss of so many lives, there is a time for looking for other ways to live. I have not been very good at making time for myself. As a therapist, I should know better. One aspect of my life I have been working on is my reaction to common day events.

As an explanation: imagine you are walking down a street. There is a red fence. In your past, you were startled when a loose dog ran out from behind a red fence barking at you. Because of that past experience you are hyper-alert. ‘Switched’. Maybe adrenalin and cortisol are starting to course through your system. Your pulse rate may rise. Your perception may narrow. Waiting, watching for the threat.

And then… nothing.

You walk past the fence. You carry on to your destination. Just as if nothing happened, because it didn’t. Not so in that past event. We learn from our past. It is a survival mechanism.

You are past the fence. You would have been past the fence without the worry.

There was an activating event (A), there were beliefs/cognitions (B), there were emotions/consequences (C). This is not linear but rather seem to happen at the same time.

Simple yes? No. It has taken, and is taking me, a lot of work to try and look at truths and not my truth. Distorted as it may be by past experience.

As a therapist in training, we had therapy ourselves. It helped me reorganise many attitudes and beliefs. For example:

The London Underground


I used to be anxious travelling on the underground. So much so that I opted to travel by motorbike. During my counselling sessions, I identified an event where I was nearly mugged on the underground. A great deal of my anxiety on the underground was due to that event. The realisation took the sting out of the event.

The above isn’t advice as such but my experience and a rather simplistic explanation.

By the way, I can travel the underground without too much anxiety now.

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