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When Reducing Anxiety, Perfect Solutions Don’t Exist

By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
Associate Editor

When Reducing Anxiety, Perfect Solutions Dont ExistThe distorted stories we tell ourselves can amplify our anxiety — which, ironically can occur when we’re trying to reduce the worry, jitters and angst. One of the most damaging of distortions is the desire for perfection.

In his book Little Ways to Keep Calm and Carry On: Twenty Lessons for Managing Worry, Anxiety and Fear, author and professor Mark A. Reinecke, Ph.D, describes this desire as “the belief that there’s a best solution and that nothing less than the best is acceptable.”

Since we can’t predict how events will unfold, that perfect solution simply doesn’t exist — not to mention that the idea of perfection only puts added pressure on ourselves and sets us up for failure. As Reinecke writes, “When you expect perfection, the only guarantee is that you’ll be disappointed.”

A more helpful way to approach anxiety is by being flexible — which I know is tough because when you’re anxiety-prone, the last thing you probably feel comfortable with is variability. But with practice and a shift in perspective, you can get there.

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When Reducing Anxiety, Perfect Solutions Don’t Exist

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  1. Hi, Margarita. These are all good tips and very useful for sure. I do have a problem with the way this is presented. I have come to understand that “anxiety” has been demonized to the level of being dangerous. When the reality is that a human would be better off loosing a limb or one of its 5 senses then to even “reduce” its anxiety. A person without a limb is still themselves. A person with out anxiety is a sociopath. Everything we know is because of anxiety. Anxiety allows us to avoid a decision that will lead to bad consequences without having to relive the experience from which we learned that lesson. I do like the suggestion to figure out why you are anxious. The problem comes in when that is burred deep in your subconscious. We are presented with a stimulus, we recognize it as something similar to what we have experience before. The Pavlovian response kicks in, and the best learned action is taken. Taking anything other (or not having learned a good option) course of action is reason for anxiety. The pharmaceutical industry has made a $10 billion a year market out of convincing people that anxiety is the demon. Their solution is reducing anxiety in a blanket fashion instead of addressing that Pavlovian trigger. It has become not only a danger to the individual, but as shooting after irrational shooting shows, it has become a danger to society. I would ask that we all incorporate the words “unhealthy” or “dysfunctional” before the word anxiety when we are talking about it.

    Thanks for the post.

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