Patterns of Repetitive Behavior in Anxiety

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When we talk about anxiety, we are not talking about an emotion, but also specific patterns of repetitive behavior. Already, because the sequences that can be observed in anxiety disorders are definitely the result of learning caused by the incessant repetition of certain actions.

Even without considering, the extreme systemic repetition of some gestures to reduce anxiety – as in the case of classic “compulsions” – we can still note that there is some repetition in actions taken by a person suffering from anxiety. What does a person fear a panic attack? It responds to its fear with behavior, which usually has to do with escaping from a certain situation or avoiding it.

This is because, because of the repetition of this behavior, the typical response to an ansiogenic event has been rigidly structured. The anxious person does not even have to think about “what to do” when he is in that specific situation, he automatically responds to what he has learned over the years: “If I do, anxiety goes away.”

The problem, of course, is that the escape or avoidance of these situations has very important effects on the life of those who put them into action. Avoid systematically getting out of the house because, for example, you are afraid of feeling bad or losing control, means reducing your social or work life. It means, in essence, that in order to avoid something unpleasant and tremendously frightening, one has to face with equally painful but surely more “real” consequences.

All this because it acts automatically, letting our brain selectively replicate the same response.

While it is true that small and innocent morning routines are characterized by repetition, and if it is true that we tend to respond to individual events or situations in a stereotyped manner, it can be argued that even big “slices” of our lives are the result of sequences that tend to repeat itself?

For example, there are people who always find themselves with the same type of partner. Is not this even a repeat? Maybe at the beginning it is more difficult to notice the signs that indicate that we are retracing, once again, always the same way. Also why not always there! It is much more likely that the interaction between the two partners will be characterized by a relationship that will be “equal” to those already experienced.

This is because each of the two tries to “put” in the couple their own repetition, with the result that with time the torque dynamics will be arranged to adapt to the routine personalities of the partners.

We take a very “caring” individual to the point that our last report is over because the partner felt “close” by his continued attentions (lived as “apprehensions”). Assuming a good analytical ability, our friend might realize that his behavior might have been the cause of the breakup of the relationship. So, you promise not to do it anymore. On the next occasion, it is likely that it will start in a more “soft” way, avoiding the same “suffocating attention” again.

At first things might be fine, not without effort to keep up from their own “indole”. However, the day will inevitably be “relaxed”, will lower the guard and the automatisms will take over. In practice, it will tend to put into effect those “cautious” behaviors that have marked the previous report.

Let us mean: apart from the fact, that it is a simplification and that the second partner might well “fit” in this dynamic, the way here is that in our small and big, our tendency is to be repetitive.

But repetitive being is only a problem when, at best, we continue to implement the same behaviors without actually taking any advantage. In the worst cases, we even end up complicating our lives.

Obviously, with respect to the “simple” learning of a single action, the analysis of such narrative scripts as, for example, the way in which we live our relationships is much more complex. But, in essence, it is always repetitive patterns.

Only beyond the brain circuits, which in any case are the “basis” of our operation, other aspects, much deeper and not immediately accessible to our consciousness, which have to do with our needs , are often dealt with our ways of staying with each other, the image we have of our person, who is near us, and the world we live in.

In the concrete, however, the constant is always that: in good or bad, we tend to repeat. At first glance it might sound like a condemnation, but it is not. Our routines, our repetitions, our behaviors are all the result of what we have learned. And what has been learned, it is possible to disarm it .

It is not easy, it will certainly take time and patience, but you can learn new ways of doing and being, to get out of the vicious cycle of repetition. Whether it is a different way of organizing in the morning, a different way of dealing with what we fear or putting into practice new behaviors within a relationship, there is always a chance to get to know each other and to reinvent yourselves.

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