It is common to feel anxious and in some cases, anxiety can be productive. However, when one is predisposed to overwhelming and anxious feelings or if they have an anxiety disorder, it can impact several areas of their life including how they connect with other people.
Anxiety often causes one to catastrophise situations and expect the worst, which makes it difficult to be present and to bask in good things happening in the moment. This means that someone with anxiety can spend a lot of time trying to prevent unfavourable outcomes, but spend so much time focusing on the negative, that they push people away.
It is important to recognise when anxiety is a key feature in your relationships so that you can focus on tackling it and building stronger bonds.
Here are some ways that anxiety could be impacting your relationships:
You need constant reassurance because you anticipate that your loved one has changed their mind about you or have ill feelings about you. Wanting reassurance is normal and healthy but when the reassurance is ineffective, evokes doubt and doesn’t resonate, it can become tiring and feel pointless, like pouring into a holey basket.
You have a desire to control others. Unpredictability can be a big trigger for anxiety, so to counter this, some anxious people feel calmer in well controlled environments because they can feel prepared when things are predictable. Unfortunately, the beauty of connecting with others is their randomness and freedoms. Being rigid with how you want your loved ones to express themselves and what you are openminded to can reduce the authenticity of the connection. This can stifle their ability to feel comfortable and free around you as they may be concerned about your responses or adopt some of your anxieties.
You may be more prone to emotionally shutting down or erupting when confronted with uncomfortable situations. Overcoming disagreements can strengthen relationships as they build trust that even when the things seem unfavourable, you have the tools to safely and securely address it in a collaborative way. Any relationship is bound to have situations where differences are encountered, these moments may be tense and conflict may arise. When one is anxious, they are more likely to become either avoidant or emotionally volatile. Both can serve as a deterrent to healthy confrontation which may mean that their relationships may become watered down, people may learn to walk on eggshells around them or distance themselves.
You constantly worry/overthink/expect the worst. This is an indication that you care. But it can also mean that you become unduly suspicious of people that also care about you, which may lead you to act in a way that indicates a level of distrust e.g. double-checking their answers, asking intrusive questions, going through their phone etc. It can also mean that you find it easy to discredit the good that people show you and mainly focus on the disappointment you have experienced at the hands of others.
To tackle feelings of anxiety, it’s important to be open and honest with yourself and others about how you feel and how some of your behaviours may be linked to this. Finding people to understand and support you on your healing journey is important. Therapy is a good way to learn about underlying reasons for your anxieties and to directly tackle it.
Join our upcoming workshops to learn more about living with anxiety (July 6th), supporting a loved one with anxiety (July 13th) and how anxiety operates in different attachment styles (July 20th). We’ll learn more about anxiety and effective ways to tackle it in unison with others!
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