• Jack Mayhall

The Stranglehold of Anxiety

Updated: Nov 19

Anxiety has placed a stranglehold around families across the globe, creating uncertainty as never before, driving people to look for answers; answers that seem elusive to all. Maybe the answer is to explore questions. Sometimes, questions are more useful than the answers when working on anxiety. Sometimes, the answers we come to are merely attempts to direct or control others. They’re more about relieving the anxiety of the moment than visioning a calmer future. Questioning breeds curiosity, and curiosity is a deterrent to anxiety. It’s very hard to change what isn’t interesting. People often come to therapy for answers, but answers have little to do with higher levels of functioning.


When you’re anxious, it can be hard to generate questions to guide you in relationships, work, and society. So here are 10 questions adapted from The Bowen Family Center that you can ask yourself about your own functioning.

  1. How much do I rely on my partner to manage my own distress?

  2. How much energy do I spend trying to control or direct family members?

  3. Am I able to stay thoughtful when anxiety is high at work?

  4. Do I try to access my own thinking before asking friends for advice?

  5. How honest can I be about my thinking, when I sense people may disagree?

  6. When do I rely on my phone to manage my distress or boost self-esteem?

  7. Do I rely on medical professionals or others to motivate me to care for myself?

  8. Do I have a clear definition of what good mental health looks like for me?

  9. How much energy do I spend blaming others for my financial status?

  10. How would I like to use these questions in my daily life?


Dr. Kathleen Smith at the Bowen Family Center commented recently about how one’s own individual efforts can help flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases. She contends that individual efforts to manage one’s anxiety, to carve out one’s own best thinking in these uncertain times can help lower the amount of anxiety in the home, in the family, and in society. Perhaps calmness and maturity aren’t as contagious as COVID-19, but they certainly have an impact. Being responsible for yourself benefits everyone.


Every item on this Perspective list can calm one down quickly. However, none of these focus on anxiety that is chronic in each of us. With the help of counseling from professionals at our Center, the division between acute anxiety and chronic anxiety can be better understood and treated; resulting in a calmer more purposeful relationship with oneself and others.


For the past 43 years, and as always, we are here to help. Please reach out to us at telehealth@thecenterpro.org to begin your counseling journey.


In addition to our individual, couples, and family counseling, we are beginning a women's support group that will meet for six weeks. Each session will allow members to connect with each other and discuss navigating life as we currently know it. The six-week group will consider topics including connection, claustrophobia, abrupt change, transition, room to breathe, prioritizing & reprioritizing, survival mode, and subjective meaning/relevance. Please contact kgold@thecenterpro.org for more information.

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