(Part of a series on relationship anxiety)
An over analytic brain never stops trying to understand. We seek to figure out how the world works, how we work, how come if we add a + b we might get c, but sometimes we get y. It’s seriously never ending and we could ride that train forever. This can be a great thing and probably makes you a critical thinker, which let’s be honest, the world needs you more and more these days. But it can also have its downsides, including the propensity to turn over certain questions in your head over and over again like “why?” or the classic fear based, decision making killer, “what if?”
So why do we constantly question, constantly try to understand, constantly try to predict the future? It’s pretty simple really (and it’s also not, because you know, life)- the answer is control. We want to control as many factors as we possibly can so that our lives look how we want them to. Maybe so we don’t get hurt. Maybe so we can ensure happiness in the future. Maybe because we’ve had a lack of control in the past and so it feels like we need to gain it in order not to repeat those awful times. It’s an easy answer and it’s also not, because as you can see from just those few examples, the desire for control comes from and manifests in countless different ways. But one factor remains constant- we want to exert control over that which we truthfully have little control over so that our lives turn out how we want and think they should.
For a side note, I’d like to say that whereas some of what I write may ring true for you, some of it may not. You’re a complex human being with your own multitude of experiences and stories, so take what you find helpful and then ditch the rest. And I say this because I have and am about to make more generalizing statements.
The first one is this: anxious people tend to be sensitive people. I mean that in a very loving way, really. Sensitive people feel the world deeply, they connect to others deeply, they take feedback from the world and turn it around inside themselves, sometimes for long stretches of time. You may not identify as someone who can let things “roll off their shoulders” but that’s not such a bad thing. You just need to redirect your superpower in a different and less obsessive direction.
The second one is this: anxious people don’t stop being anxious because they’ve found someone to love. In fact, though a kind, loving relationship may feel soothing at points, it may also be the container for your anxiety at different points. And those points often tend to be times of increased stress or life transitions. In fact, it may become the ultimate anxiety provoker because you thought that it would be something that would save you from yourself.
The third one is this: Control is about fear. Fear of not having enough. Fear of getting hurt. Fear that things will not be ok. And do you know what the antidote to fear is? Trust. Love. Letting go. It sounds cheesy, but seriously, time and time again these are the only answers in a world that is truly out of our control.
And finally, let’s throw in a cliche because it’s true and relevant here: The only thing you have control over in your life is you. And by you, I don’t mean your body because you can’t always control what happens there, and I don’t mean your thoughts or emotions because sometimes you don’t have a say what enters your consciousness. What I mean by you, by the you you have control over, is the observing you. The you who has the choice to react with fear or trust. The you who has the choice to act in love or in hate. The you who can notice that well of anxiety and choose not to jump in this time, even if just this once.
Your job is to find a way to strengthen that you, so that when faced with the abyss of another cycle of anxiety, you actually feel like you have a choice of whether or not to jump in.
So let’s stand on the edge together for a while and peer down- watch what happens there, what happens with all those anxious thoughts and questions, why’s and what ifs. Watch your anxiety swirl around, incessantly tackle the same topic over and over, and notice that you don’t actually have to get caught up in it because it hardly ever brings you anywhere new or helpful.