Could There Be Any Chance Youre Preventing Your Partner From Becoming More Confident
Perhaps unconsciously, you could be contributing to the maintenance of your partners anxiety. I mention this totally without judgement and only because as a couples counsellor I have an understanding of the dynamics of a relationship:
- Do you, deep down, often feel ashamed of your partners behaviour, particularly if it is publicly obvious?
- Do you talk down to your partner, because they are so over-anxious?
- Do you feel irritated, not just some of the time, but most of the time to such an extent that you can barely hide the fact youre gnashing your teeth?
However understandable this situation is neither helpful for your partner nor for you. When you get to this stage youre likely to be stuck in a vicious circle.
I really urge you now to connect with a qualified relationship coach to get the right support and advice.
Help Them Find Treatment
If your partner needs an extra hand with their mental health, help them find a mental health professional that they could receive therapy from.
They might be too anxious to know where, or how, to start this process. So, thats where you come in! Help them learn about the different types of therapists available for them to see, help them learn about the different types of therapeutic modalities, and even help find a therapist that they can book a possible consult with.
Chances are that a task like finding a therapist feels suuuper overwhelming and completely impossible, so theyre going to need your help! Type questions into that fancy Google-machine on their behalf and watch the therapists roll in!
What Your Partner With Anxiety Wants You To Know
To the person whose wife or partner has anxiety:
You might have heard that she has anxiety from sitting by her side in a doctor’s office, holding her hands while the tears steam down her face. You might have seen her get angry and explode because shes overwhelmed, wondering where this rage has come from. You might have seen her sit quietly staring into the distance with a panic in her eye.
Anxiety isnt one-size-fits-all, it isnt consistent and it isnt always easy to tell. You might think shes just snapped at you, but it was anxiety that did it you might think shes angry, but its the anxiety thats got a choke hold you might think shes not enjoying herself when you go out and its your fault, but its not. Its anxiety.
You know how she cant understand, when she asks you what are you thinking, why you would respond with nothing.” Its because she never thinks nothing. Her thoughts replay like a freight train in her head, full steam ahead, over and over. Its exhausting for her. Its why shes tired.
Sometimes she wonders why youre with her, and if you knew she had anxiety, would you still be there? Do you regret it? Being with her? Do you wish you were with someone else that didnt have this vice around their neck?
You can see what gets too much for herthe crowds of people, bedtime, dinnertimesee it and help her by holding her hand and telling her youre with her. Do it with her, take over, tell her to sit down for a while and breathe.
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How To Stop Relationship Anxiety
Relationships are incredibly complicated. There are two things that you have to ask yourself in the beginning, long before you can expect to fix your relationship:
- Is the relationship worth saving?
- Are you willing to change yourself even without your partner changing?
The second question, however, is based on one simple truth about relationships: you can only change yourself. Despite all the ways you plead with your partner to improve, you can’t be the one to change them. Only they can change them. Your role, then, is to try to be the best partner you can be and as open as possible, and then hope that it motivates them to change as well.
The Dos And Donts Of Helping Someone With Anxiety
If someone in your family or one of your friends has been experiencing anxiety or has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you will want to know the best ways to support them. Leaning how to help someone with anxiety can be daunting at first, but once you understand their concerns, you should be able to communicate well.
Mental health conditions can sometimes be tricky to manage, but when it comes to helping and supporting someone with anxiety, we have outlined some useful anxiety dos and donts so that you can make sure that the steps that you take help them to start feeling better once again.
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Dont Trivialize What Theyre Feeling
Even if you donât understand what weâre going through, telling us that that the reason for our anxiety is âsillyâ or âstupidâ is one of the worst things you can do. Most of us know that our fears are irrational or exaggerated, but that doesnât stop us from feeling them. Just as you expect others to sympathize with you when youâre sad or happy, we feel better when you try to understand our anxiety rather than trivializing it. Of course, thatâs not to say you should tell us that weâre correct in being terrified, but making us feel crazier than we already do is only going to make our anxiety worse.
Take Care Of Your Own Mental Health
We know our anxiety can affect others, and if you’re spending a lot of time around us, it’s going to take its toll on you. Even if you feel perfectly fine now, the Mental Health Foundation reports that adults between the ages of 35 and 59 have higher levels of anxiety than any other age group. Thankfully, though, taking care of yourself now can help prevent you from feeling anxious down the road. Make sure you have effective ways to deal with your own stress. If you need some “you” time, take it. Find what helps you to feel better, and do it. If you’re stressed while you’re around us, we’re going to be even more stressed, and it’s going to create an unhealthy chain reaction that isn’t good for either of us. We love you, and we want you to be happy, too!
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Do Separate Your Partner Fromtheir Anxiety
At the end of the day, the partner that you love is still there. They’re still the same person who makes you laugh so hard that water comes out your nose, or who is always the first to thaw the ice and apologize after a fight.
Its just that sometimes, they might feel buried beneath their anxiety. It can help to remind yourself, and them, that they are not their anxiety. The anxiety is just an intense experience that can overwhelm your partner at times and affect how they behave. Try to be patient and compassionate this means being gentle with yourself as well as your partner. It might not always seem obvious from your partners behavior, but chances are theyre deeply grateful that youre willing to support them through the difficult times.
Keep communicating openly and honestly, and dont let the anxiety win. Its likely that youll grow a deeper bond and develop a more meaningful relationship in the process.
Assist Them In Finding Help
Studies done to help uncover how to help someone with anxiety and depression show psychotherapy applied alone or together with pharmacology, can be helpful in symptom management. Therapists learn how to treat people with anxiety, and they can provide the help you cant and shouldnt .
If your partner is not attending therapy, assist them in finding adequate help. Also, consider having separate sessions to learn how to handle people with anxiety better and take care of yourself in the process. Therapy can make the process of learning how to help your partner with anxiety much easier on both of you.
But Don’t Be Afraid To Put Your Foot Down Somewhere
There’s a fine line between being sensitive and babying us. Work with your partner and, if possible, their therapist to learn where that line is. Telling us that it’s totally fine if we never leave the house again is obviously not going to benefit anyone, but neither will forcing us to progress much faster than we’re ready to. It can be a tricky balance to achieve, but if you can pull it off, you’ll be helping us on their way to recovery.
What Not To Do
To avoid making the anxiety worse, hurting your partner and creating more stress in the relationship, DO NOT:
- Criticize them for having anxiety
- Dismiss their anxiety
- Enable maladaptive anxious behaviors by coddling them too much
- Try to be their therapist
- Take everything personally
- Lose your temper or patience every time the anxiety flares up
- Try to fix your partner
- Recommend drugs for their anxiety
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Suggestions For Breaking A Trance State
You can help to wake your partner up, as it were, from an anxious trance state.
By anything unexpected, just so that they have to think: What the heck? NOT a bucket of water or anything else abusive of course!
Here are some ideas
- An invitation for anything they can cope with at a completely unexpected moment .
- Humour! Make fun of yourself, tell a joke!
- Discuss a completely unrelated story, about your work, someone at work, the neighbour, your childhood, your friend You get my drift. Use your judgement it might make them angry, which may or may not break the original trance state.
- Tell them youve lost something ordinary your socks for all I care!
- Put a note under their nose with: Did you know I love you? or something completely random.
I am sure you understand what I mean by now. So, be sure to have your list with distractions at the ready, youre going to need it often. Most importantly, know that eventually, you will find the best way of helping your partner to gently get out of their comfort zone and build their confidence.
Theres another aspect to the dynamics between the two of you that I want to cover though However much you may like to you cannot change your partner!
Strengthen Your Personal Identity
Many people lose themselves in their relationships. They become preoccupied with wanting to make the other person happy. They neglect their own passions, friendships, or self-care because the relationship becomes so consuming.
Healthy relationships require healthy people! Invest in cultivating your self-esteem. This may mean practicing positive affirmations and self-compassion every day. It may also mean spending time with positive influences or taking healthy risks with work or school.
Finally, you need to have a separate life outside of your relationship. This separation keeps you feeling refreshed and engaged with the world- it can also bring the two of you closer.
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Encourage Your Loved One To Talk To Someone Who Can Help
Even if you deserve the husband of the year award, your expertise can only go so far. Ive been doing this for years, and I still find myself in over my head when working with someone through a challenging situation. Anxiety can be rooted in years of trauma and neglect and the toxic values we absorb about ourselves. Those ugly beliefs will impact how we relate to people down the road. Its quite possible that your loved one might need support and guidance from a professional. That could be a pastor at church or finding a good therapist .
Often, folks who feel trapped by anxiety need reassurance that theyre worth the time and money investment of professional help. It takes a lot of courage to choose vulnerability and to do the hard work of facing your anxiety. So, be your friends biggest cheerleader. And if its your spouse who needs counseling, you can offer to go together so you can learn tools to support them along their journey.
Fearing That You Arent Good Enough For Them
This is one of the cornerstone symptoms of relationship anxiety. Maybe you feel like you just got lucky to be with your partner. Or, perhaps, you worry that they wont want to stick around once they know the true you.
These insecurities can be expected when you first meet with someone. However, they should pass as you two become more and more comfortable. If they dont, it could indicate anxiety.
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Educate Yourself On Anxiety
Anxiety can be complicated to understand. Its often tricky and insidious, and it can convince you that terrible things are imminent.
Reading about anxiety can be a great first way to start. Learning more about the condition, understanding the common symptoms, and exploring new coping skills provide you with an essential foundation for moving forward.
We Know How Much Of A Burden Our Anxiety Is And We Do Not Need A Reminder
This is not to say that you can never express frustration or anger about your partners anxiety, but there is a way to say it nicely and in as much of a loving way as possible. If you say it in a negative way, then youve triggered or increased the ever-present worries. Sometimes, in the moment, things slip out or arent meant to be said. But these are extremely damaging to us, like getting kicked when youre down. If you want to speak about it, be as gentle as you can. And no, tough love doesnt feel like love to us.
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Anxiety Is The Opposite Of Acceptance
A healthy form of worry will tell you something isnt right it comes via that quick pull at your heart or that tight feeling in your stomach. This signal helps you act, such as when you speak up for someone who is being treated poorly.
Unhealthy levels of anxiety make you feel as though an emotional rock is in your stomach almost all the time. Anxiety causes you to reject things that are not dangerous and avoid things that might benefit you. It also can stop you from taking healthy action to change things in your life that are hurting you because it makes you feel hopeless or stuck.
so practice being uncomfortable. You dont need to either ignore or obsess over an uncomfortable thought. Take constructive action if you can. Sometimes your partner just needs you to be present with his or her feelings, and sometimes you need to offer that same gift to yourself. You can show your presence to your partner with soft eyes or a soft touch, and be present for yourself with a calming breath.