What Do We Do With Fear? How Do We Face It?
What we do with scary information is my point in writing today. Patients frequently express to me that they just do not know what to do with a problem facing them: whether it’s a worry about their job, their marriage, their child, etc. It always dazzles me how folks will keep terrifying stuff to themselves because they do not want to burden a loved one or feel embarrassed to have this problem at all. I regularly recommend to patients a strategy of selective self-disclosure to trusted others as a way of reducing their emotional pressure. Obviously, just naming the worry to another does not solve the problem but it is a crucial start. I remember the young man who came to see me at his doctor’s referral because of erectile dysfunction. He was a more relieved patient for our having talked about his fears and how he would deal with them going forward.
Another time, a woman came to see one of our psychologists because panic attacks were increasingly disrupting her life. Her bubbling anxiety was still while her medication was effective, but the source of her severe anxiety was not being addressed. Seven counseling sessions got to the heart of her issues and how to confront them. Oftentimes the avoidance of conflict and fear of disappointing others is central to the patient’s convictions and resulting high distress. We teach in our work with others how to be usefully assertive in their own regard. In addition, we find that when an individual adopts more flexibility in how they handle the outcome of things, they find the doing less tedious and the moving on easier to handle.
We would welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with you on problems of anxiety and panic.