• Do certain relationships stress you out?
  • Do you find it difficult to share how you feel with others without getting stressed?
  • Do you struggle with finding the words to say to particular people in your life?
  • Are you overwhelmed with trying to please others or anxious you might say the “wrong” thing?
  • Are conversations with specific people irritating or conflictual?
  • Do you ignore certain people in your life in order to avoid conflict with them?
  • Do you try and figure out what someone may be thinking about you without ever asking him/her?
  • Do certain family or friends stress you out even though you still have them in your life?
  • Is it hard to share how you feel with others without getting anxious?
  • Do you get anxious when you have to talk with someone?
  • Are you known to be an anxious person?
  • Would you rather text or email than to talk to others face-to-face?

If you find yourself answering “yes” to many of these questions, you have a commonplace with many of our clients who struggle with anxiety in social or relational situations.  In today’s information superhighway of knowledge, digital communication, and so many different platforms of communicating, there are huge gaps we have found with people communicating effectively without feeling a bit anxious or outright frightened in talking with others (especially face-to-face). If your job or daily activities include talking with others in order to do your job or meet certain expectations in your relationship, you may find this to be overwhelming or a bit scary. We have seen many clients who share your pain and have received help in overcoming and coping with the anxiety they carry. You are not alone in these feelings. We are passionate, caring, empathetic counselors dedicated to helping come alongside you to assist you in facing these challenges and to overcome them. It is part of our mission and satisfaction in caring for the emotional, mental and spiritual issues of our clients for their improved well-being.  This is part of why we do what we do in the field of counseling others. You are no exception.  With being a part of a conversation of sharing your thoughts and feelings with an objective, caring, thoughtful counselor, you can begin to release the tension of anxiety, begin to let go of certain burdens you are carrying. You may ask, “Why am I carrying these things? Why can’t I have a conversation without being so stressed out?”  Let’s take a look at some things that may be interfering with you engaging in meaningful interactions.

You may have a history of bad or awkward relationships.  We all start in life with relationships. Usually, they are with parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, other relatives, or with other caregivers.  These relationships are not picked by us. Sometimes these relationships are good while other times a few of them may be very absent, loose, harsh, abusive, or just bad news. As for friendships, they may start with certain underlying expectations that we may or may not realize at the time. As children, we learn to socialize…looking for connection, friendships. We like our friends, play with them one moment then hate them the next only to be friends again (or not). We grow up through many changes in our lives…social, relational, physical, mental, and emotional.  Out of these relationships, we develop a certain way in which we view or perceive others and how we relate to them in the world. This is called our internal worldview. Though there are other contributing factors to our internal worldview, we are just focusing here on relationships.

You may worry about what others think about you.  Many times, you may value other people’s opinions about you and thus you may find yourself worrying about these opinions. In your need to be loved, accepted, liked, and appreciated, you may find yourself worrying about the family or friends you have including co-workers or bosses going above and beyond in order to win their approval. You may find that they don’t reciprocate and you are left empty and exhausted.

You may blame yourself for how others feel.  This generally goes along with wondering about what others think about you. You may find yourself trying so hard not to offend others that you blame yourself for their not so pleasant feelings. You may tell yourself, “It’s all my fault he’s in a bad mood. I should have not been so frustrated with him”.  With this, comes distress, uncertainty, and assuming what they are feeling based possibly on what they say or don’t say, if they respond to your text or email and how or what they text.

You may be a bit hard on yourself.  With taking on other people’s thoughts and feelings, you may also find that you blame yourself for not being a good enough friend or letting other people down and that you need to try harder to win their approval or acceptance. You may find also that it is easier to blame yourself than to blame others.  So, you may strive to work harder and harder to get others to like you or to comment on how well you are doing or they like what you do for them. However, many times these responses may not be there as much as you’d like them to be.

What keeps me back from getting help with all this?

Fear of the unknown, rejection or failure.  Many times we have met with clients who have expressed their fears of taking the first step to getting help for their anxiety. Fear of rejection is very common. Questions like, “What will the counselor think of me? Will he/she like me?” and other such questions. These fears are real, they are ones that many people feel they have to face alone. Then, they take the courage to hope…hope that there are better ways of being in a relationship than being stressed, nervous or afraid. You may find fear as one of the greatest obstacles in relieving stress. Not knowing for sure how another person may respond if you get help…which may include how you may feel about yourself. Be courageous for you.

Shame and guilt keep pecking away at me.  These are very common emotions that people experience many times when battling with anxiety. Shame and guilt can be seen as siblings to fear.  They each work together causing interference in meaningful relationships.  By learning how to face these emotions, sort out where they are coming from and how to overcome them are ways of reducing your anxiety greatly for more healthy and lasting friendships.

Doubts that counseling will help me.  This is a good point. Many people find themselves doubting whether they will be able to get the help they need in counseling. They may compare themselves to other people who seem to “have it all together” and wonder why they would need help and so figure they don’t need counseling for their issues. Everyone has private thoughts, struggles, heartaches, fears, worries, etc. that they never tell others fully about if at all. There are times when counseling may help very little or not at all. There are also meaningful times when taking a chance, a risk, an opportunity to try pays off well. Counseling involves meeting with a trained counselor who is compassionate, caring, and a knowledgeable human being who truly appreciates the task and occasion of helping another fellow human being in working through his or her anxiety toward more fulfilling relationships with dignity, honesty, happiness, peace, and satisfaction. Doubts can be overcome with truth, with honesty, with experiencing new and healthy ways of overcoming the anxious, nervous and overwhelming feelings that rob you of your sense of being well.

Emotional and mental exhaustion.  This happens more often than anyone may wish to admit. The amount of energy it takes to be anxious adds up. Though you may not be able to see how worry, stress, self-doubt, shame, fear, guilt, and pleasing others zap your strength, it does. Your mind and emotions being hard at work may end up affecting your body as well such that you may experience possible headaches, muscle tension, stomach upset, chest tightening, joint pain, forgetfulness, etc. These are signs not to ignore. Your body is alerting you to something not right within.

Over the years of experience in the counseling field, we have seen that anxiety is one of the most if not the most common mental health issue that clients come to counseling to address. Take for instance, Beth (fictional name) who had come to counseling feeling very anxious with the ongoing trouble in her relationship with her partner. She expressed how she worried whether he loved her or not and is concerned why her mom has ignored her. She tried really hard at work trying to please her very difficult boss who had been rather demanding of her time and experience but she felt she was just not meeting the boss’s expectations. After going through counseling, she learned that it was not her responsibility to take on the feelings of her partner. She learned to communicate more effectively with her mom and set boundaries with her and became more assertive with her boss with dignity and respect. Further, she was able to get her work done and feel good about what she had accomplished.

Here at Pathways Counseling Services, we strive to connect with each of our clients focusing on your unique story, and situation aligning with and setting goals with you to work through and accomplish in therapy. Our counselors come from a variety of backgrounds with multiple experiences, education, training, and skills to help walk alongside you for your mental and emotional health and well-being.

Take the first step toward regaining a sense of self, peace, hope, and happiness as you work through letting go of your anxiety, releasing your stress and worry. Feel free to send us an email at joel@pathwaystucson.com or give us a call at 520-292-9750. We are here to help.