Dear Karen Kaye,

Please teach me how to control my anxiety. It is becoming more overwhelming over time.



Dear Skyler,

Trying to control anxiety is part of what makes anxiety so overwhelming. The more you try to control anxiety, the bigger the grip anxiety has on you. In this technological age of faster and better, anxiety seems to be beating out depression as the single most frequent reason people come to counseling.

At its’ base, anxiety is a need for control that can be paralyzing and happens most frequently to those with perfectionistic tendencies. It is inescapable and intrusive. Anxiety lies in our belief systems as a form of competition with ourselves and/or others, where someone or something else is sure to do “it” better than us. We have been told, as well as believe, that we are not good enough in the areas we hold anxiety.

On a personal note, my second grade teacher told me I would never write “well enough.” Imagine my anxiety when I began writing these columns! Don’t you just love those people who are in a place of authority who label and predict our future negatively? That is no one’s right, not even yours to put yourself down. You do not deserve it.

So, although you cannot control anxiety Skyler, you have the power to manage anxiety by noticing the thoughts and feelings that trigger it. It is up to you to decide to manage your anxious mind. Try to pull your negativity out of the closet to reveal it…not scold it. Reflect on this statement, “I wonder what made me do that or what made me so harsh towards myself in that area.”

It is much easier to seek professional help to uncover these feelings and questions than to do it on your own. Sometimes, we are too close to ourselves to identify the problem. Our thoughts and feelings are coming to us to heal us, not to hurt us.

Thank you so much for your question.

Karen Kaye, LMHC