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Good Anxiety V Bad Anxiety


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How do you distinguish between good and bad anxiety.

I am about to start group therapy for Social Anxiety (in 7 days time). Each time I think about it my anxiety level goes through the roof. I feel physically sick and experience dry retching.

I am trying to console myself that feeling anxious about a new situation is ok, but when does it become 'not ok'.

I am going to attend the group no matter how I feel, we have been asked not to take any anti-anxiety medication before the session,It will be 2 and a half hours long, one day a week for 14 weeks.

To me all anxiety feels the same, so how can I tell what is normal and what is extreme?

Goose

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Hi Goose Good luck with your new group :)

I am guessing since they dont want you to take any medication so the "normal" or "extreme" anxiety will be "ok"

I also think that maybe since you already know you will feel anxious that it is ok and exactly what you are feeling is also "ok" and will not be judged by the other members of the group.

I know for me when I go to my womens trauma group, I experience much anxiety because sometimes i dont want to hear or talk about anything having to do with coping or share triggers that we experienced. And our group is 2 hrs long it usually goes quick because i do then feel more relaxed because my fears and thoughts are always accepted by the other women. I understand them and they understand me...

Good luck with your new group and dont over think it. Remember you are going to a place of help and support and others feel just like you.... :)

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Personally, the first thing I'd suggest is to separate your feeling (anxiety) from the value judgment (good/bad).

Feelings are feelings; you just have to feel them. There's no real way to judge them, because the criteria are all relative. Most people would feel fear about climbing onto the railing of a high balcony, and there's some survival value to that feeling: you might fall. Unless the building is on fire, and the only way out is to jump into a rescue net. It's the same fear; only the circumstances changed.

So, once you're aware of a feeling, and you've felt it, then you can start thinking about what to do, in the presence of that feeling. This is where judgment can start to be useful, but keep in mind, it's not judging the feeling, it's judging what to do about the feeling. Every fear is a fear, but not every situation calls for listening to the fear and taking a protective action.

I guess the question you need to ask yourself is, what's the worst that can happen, in a support group meeting? What outcome is it that you fear, and what is its likelihood? What can you do to prevent that outcome, and what can you do to mitigate the effects, if it does happen?

What I'm saying is, only you can define what kind of reaction is "excessive". Now, you can look at other people's reactions (though you can only see their actions, not their feelings) as an indication of what you would like to do, yourself, but it will be your decision, in the end.

In other words, when you work on your self-talk, it's not to eliminate the feeling. It's to alter whichever thoughts make this reaction seem "excessive" to you. For instance, if your thought were "If I go to this meeting, I'll die of embarrassment", then it's understandable that you would feel fear. It's not the fear's fault, though. If you corrected the thought to, "I might be embarrassed, but no one's ever died of that yet", the fear might be reduced without being blamed.

So, I would suggest that you have at least two inputs to this process, without touching the feeling directly, at all: You can look at whether your self-talk, that leads to the feeling, is accurate, and you can make reasonable, detached judgments about what to do with the feeling, after it's been felt.

I hope you have a good time in group. :-)

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Goose,

I want to congratulate everyone here for comments to you that are ON TARGET.

Attend the group, Goose and remember, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

Allan:)

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I had a bit similar experience today: Before my session with my therapist, I was very anxious, because I was decided to tell him something... very, very hard to say (at least for me). [i mentioned it in my therad "How "to open a can of worms" during therapy?", but it doesn't matter here.] And sitting there, in front of his office, waiting him to open the door, my hearth beating so very fast, ... I was trying to think about this thread as much as I was able to. I'm very glad I had this in mind. Thanks to all of you!

And during the session, I was thinking about what IrmaJean wrote me some days ago (mostly in a PM)... and this helped me a lot! - Another proof that this forum can be very helpful!!! And... I have to mention also another proof: I found (some months ago) a very good friend here; our correspondence (by "normal" e-mail, not on this webpage) is helping both of us and our friendship became an important part of our lifes...

"P.S.": Sorry for this a bit "out of topic" post - I think this is typical for me... :);)

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