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3 Questions I Ask Myself When My Anxiety Starts to Affect My Relationships

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Anxiety can often feel like a third person in your relationships. The anxiety can create distance based on irrationalism, fear and insecurity. Even the most loving, attentive, patient partner can suddenly feel unsafe and unreliable. A kiss can feel inauthentic; a kind word rings out like a lie. And if you don’t have the skills to combat it, it can lead you toward self-destructive behaviors that can tear away at even the most stable relationships.

I struggle with this. A lot. So I created a series of questions for myself to make sure I don’t open the floodgates to irrational and entirely unneeded relational strife:

1. What evidence/experience supports these thoughts?

“He doesn’t love me anymore.” “She’s mad at me.” “I am a terrible person.” “This is going to be bad.” These kinds of thoughts are not only toxic, they are powerful. They can trigger a series of behaviors that support their irrationality so what was once merely a fear becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sometimes I need to physically respond to these thoughts and create pros and cons lists that either support a positive conclusion or work to negate irrational thinking.

2. What part of my cycle am I in? Are there other physical triggers?

I have significantly increased depression and anxiety symptoms during my menstrual cycle and fertility period. This is called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and it affects a small percentage of women. Occasionally, the symptoms are debilitating for me. But some months, they are significantly reduced. So I have to track my cycle and keep tabs on my emotional and physical state during these times.

3. What can I do to release these emotions?

Whether you run or paint or cook or write or sing… it is so important to develop a go-to you can find release in. Personally, I work out and I write. This creates a safe space to fully dump all those fear-based, hard-to-deal-with emotions.

Now, I am not suggesting you avoid authentic communication with your friends, family or partner. Keep communicating. Keep building mutual understanding. Keep telling someone what you are feeling. But don’t make them responsible for your emotional well-being. You need to be responsible for it. They’re there to love and support you. But you have to develop ways to cope and sort through things on your own as well.

I hope this helps you, too. Remember that you are loved. And you are stronger than you realize.

Image via Thinkstock Images

Originally published: August 22, 2016
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