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  • Writer's pictureBehaviour Mentor

Anxiety and Behaviour

The link between anxiety and behaviour can be complex to understand. Previous personal experiences with anxiety saw me exhibit anticipation and excitement at the prospect of something new. Anxiety here generated a positive response to the unknown and offered the opportunity to try new things and move outside of my comfort zone.

Experience with others showed me how family, friends and students can have their daily lives negatively impacted by their anxiety. Behaviours observed included physical and emotional distress. The anxiety here generated a different response which removed the ability of the individuals to experience new things and take risks.

In my practice, I strive to understand those around me and show empathy and compassion for those who struggle. I approach behaviour as the expression of an unmet need and I support without judgement. I could recognise anxiety in others and how debilitating it was for them so imagine my shock when anxiety took hold of me.

This all started when I moved from Switzerland to Spain, two months ago. After many goodbyes and many tears my partner and I “hit the road”, after 25 years we were on a new adventure. The sun was shining and we were ready for this next chapter. But, within minutes of crossing the border into Spain that all changed.

There were two independent attempts to have us stop on the motorway. Fast driving cars with horns blowing with individuals who attempted to have us pull off the motorway with a suggested flat tyre. Thankfully we had the confidence to ignore their demands and continued driving. I took to google in an attempt to understand what had just happened. It turns out that it is a well known trick to have people stop and while the driver distracts you his companion robs you. Welcome to Spain!

These incidents and experiences have shown me that anxiety is not always rational, anxiety is real, and anxiety can not be fully understood unless you have lived with it.

My anxiety resulted in unreasonable behaviour, shouting at my partner, crying for what appeared to be little things and perhaps the most striking… not leaving the house.

In a six week period, I think I left the house twice on my own. For three weeks I did not drive the car at all. This from someone who was never home, always driving about and not afraid to drive somewhere new.

Thankfully after two months I am finally making some progress.

Am I still anxious? Yes, but it is more manageable.

Am I leaving the house and driving by myself? Yes, but within a trusted area.

How did I turn this around? With the support of my family and friends. They didn’t judge me, they were concerned for me but with their understanding and support I have been able to push myself out of my comfort zone and back into life.

This has led me to be more aware of how anxiety can impact others. My story is thankfully a short one but for others it can be a very long and difficult journey.

Anxiety is real. Individuals can be supported through empathy, compassion, understanding, patience and love. So when an individual is not behaving as you would want or expect, think back to what I have said and approach them with kindness.


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