We tend to cope with anxiety in one of two ways: indulging it or starving it. Some of us encounter a difficult situation and (over)eat to make ourselves feel better; others of us may lose our appetite. Some of us encounter a relationship problem and rush to erase it; others avoid the person or the problem. Some of us react to bad news or rejection by getting angry or spiteful; others of us become defeated and ineffectual.

Two months ago, I flew halfway across the country to meet an old friend for the first time in 29 years. He reached out to me online 8 years prior, and the e-mail somehow arrived at this time. The reason for the delay is unknown–mystifying and perplexing. I met him with an open heart, anxious to renew my acquaintance with the spirit of the man that I had known 29 years earlier. I felt hurt to discover his dominating personality, his alienating judgments and criticisms, and his unkind treatment of me in light of such behavior. Upon returning home and after bearing my anger on paper, I allowed time to pass and decided to write a thoughtful letter, expressing my dismay. Two months after my visit, I mailed the letter and let go of the problem and my disappointment.

In the past, I would have rushed to engage him with my anger and spitefully match his meanness with my vengeance. Circumstances intervened and kept me from hasty action. In this instance, my tendency to indulge my anxiety was interrupted. And this proved advantageous. Meanwhile, in other situations, I still tend to starve my anxiety. Sometime when I feel bothered by a problem in a relationship, I try to resolve it in my head without involving the other person. At other times, I approach the other person in order to resolve the matter.

There are BALANCED ways to cope with anxiety. Maturity and discipline provide keys to select the optimal response in difficult situations. The next time you feel the desire to indulge or starve anxiety, take a moment to choose a considered approach. Pay attention to your problem-solving style, and you will discover that anxiety appears in big and little ways.

Which way do you tend to cope with anxiety? Do you indulge it or do you starve it?

As you find clarity about our responses to anxiety, you may find that your problem-solving style does not produce the benefits you desire. If you have problems and wish to change the unfavorable patterns, I can help. Contact Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation (Resiliency Coaching) and I will held you master anxiety so that it does not enslave you.

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