Anxiety, Shoulds, Duty & Exaggerated Obligation

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Anxiety is the biggest problem I work with. Anxiety is a huge issue for tons of people. Anxiety means that fear drives your choices. Fear based choices make your world too small & tight which offers a false sense of safety.

Often anxious people solve their fears with planning, controlling behavior, a strong belief in duty, being wrapped up in shoulds or preferring a clear sense of right/wrong which avoids complicatedness. Anxious people love the certainty of shoulds, control, obligation & plans. They abhor uncertainty because fear breeds & grows there.

I’ve written before about anxious people as people pleasers. People pleasers want the certainty of being liked. They want to avoid the messiness of disagreement or rocking the boat. People pleasing is all about making decisions based on what will make others happy. Often this includes an exaggerated sense of obligation.

Anxious people often are motivated by fears of how other people will see you.

Worrying about everyone else & what they want (which is often disguised as care taking) is about reacting to others. The anchor of your ego is based outside of yourself & on what you do for others. This is often way too lopsided.

While you may never be excellent at trusting your own anchors within yourself, it’s a real good idea to experiment with this in order to be less lopsided. Therapy is about having greater balance & more choices.

So ask yourself what is the opposite of Shoulds, Duty, Plans, Control, Obligation & Certainty?

I would suggest Playful, Imaginative, Openness, Spontaneity & accepting uncertainty as ordinary in life. These all can percolate from within yourself.

Toddlers & infants are a joy to watch because they naturally have all of these qualities. I loved watching my grandson just pushing everything he could find thru the cat door. He adores the power of making the disappearance happen for huge amounts of time. He has discovered this activity & delights in it from within himself. It has nothing to do with anybody else. That’s exactly the kind of energy you must find within & act upon.

The secret to a healthy ego is balancing both a good sense of other’s wants & concerns, along with a clarity of knowing who you are & what you want from within.

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