At the very core of it, there is only one single thing that causes anxiety disorders, including social anxiety, in women. You might have your story, your triggers, your aversions. But it really, truly, honestly boils down to one thing.
It’s called resistance.
Resistance is that tension that arises in your body and mind when you consider or contemplate something you perceive to be new or risky. It can’t be helped – in fact, it’s as natural and in-built as breathing.
You see, the primal part of your brain is very primal – there’s a part of your brain called the amygdala, and its’ sole purpose is to recognise and respond to threats.
In cave-lady days, the amygdala was very useful. It told us to run if confronted by a t-rex, for example. However, in this day and age, there just aren’t that many life-or-death threats that we are confronted with each day.
But the amygdala just keeps on working. So any new thing is perceived as a threat. And therefore you will do whatever it takes to avoid it.
You will even avoid opportunities. You’ll even avoid no-brainer, no-risk decisions where the answer is plainly obvious. You will always think twice about whether you’re making the right choice.
The unfortunate thing is, resistance is often sub-conscious. So while every part of your conscious mind might be screaming “yes!”, your primal mind is giving a resounding and obstinate “no”.
This is often why women with anxiety feel stuck. You know what you WANT to do (ie kick your anxiety) but SOMETHING is holding you back. Like a big wall, that gets in your way every time you try to move forward.
The top three ways that resistance manifests without you knowing are:
Confusion & overwhelm: Where the brain has so much new info to process, it can’t sort it into a logical order. I’ve often surprised myself by how I can get so confused by such simple concepts!
Procrastination: This is when you know something needs to be done, but you will do whatever it takes to avoid doing that thing. Including washing all the windows (inside & out), sanding the floor and painting your bedroom.
Tiredness: Does this sound familiar? “I want to do the grocery shopping/wash the windows/paint the bedroom but I just don’t have the energy.”
How to get past resistance
* Acknowledge that it’s there. Recognise it in yourself. See how it’s affecting your anxiety levels and your life.
* Surrender to it. You can’t fight it, so stop trying. Just allow it to be there, give yourself a break and you will regenerate.
* Move gently ahead with what you want to do, in spite of the fear. The key here is to be gentle. If you come up against more resistance, just acknowledge and surrender, and gently try to move forward again.
* Repeat the 3 steps above.