In his book, The Obstacle is The Way, Ryan Holiday highlights the important difference between what happens to us and what we think about what happens to us. Holiday points out that the common statement, "This happened and it is bad" is actually about two different things.
The first part, "This happened" is objective. These are the facts of a situation. Imagine a video camera captures what happens without any bias or perspective. You stub your toe. Your boyfriend is 30 minutes late to dinner. You fail a class. These are objective things that we experience.
The second part, "and it is bad" is a subjective interpretation of the objective experience. Our subjective interpretation, or perception, includes all the thoughts, value judgements and stories we use to make sense of the objective thing that happened.
If we stub our toe (objective) our subjective response could be anything from "that really hurt" to "I can't believe I did that. I'm so stupid. This is going to ruin my whole day!"
When a boyfriend is late to dinner (objective) we can have a response (subjective). that includes all sorts of assumptions about the other person. Maybe this person does not care about me? Maybe they are cheating on me?
If we fail a class (objective), our subjective reaction often includes catastrophic conclusions about our intelligence and our future success.
How to Stay Objective
Young adults I work with in young adult counseling often struggle with uncertainty about their identity and anxiety about the future. They are struggling to understand who they are and how they will make a life for themselves. Young adults can find themselves struggling with negative interpretations of what's happening in their life.
Aaron Beck, one of the founders of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), created an acronym that helps young adults stay objective in the midst of their negative emotions. The acronym is AWARE:
What Does it Mean to be AWARE & How Young Adults Can Practice
I like the acronym AWARE as it is both easy to remember and powerful when practiced regularly. Just like any behavior that we would like to change, it takes consistency and practice.
Below are suggestions from a young adult counselor on how to practice being AWARE:
The first step for young adults is to acknowledge and accept the anxiety. It may seem counter intuitive at first. But studies have shown that fighting against anxiety or trying to deny it can make matters worse. Being patient and open to the anxious thoughts and feelings strips them of their great power.
Write the anxious thoughts down from a detached perspective. You can put them on a note card and place them at the center of your desk.
Remember that there is what has happened (objective) and our particular interpretation (subjective) of what has happened.
Keep things neutral. Don't rush to emotionally charged language like this is "bad", "awful" or "terrible."
Approach whatever you fear instead of avoiding it. Avoidance fuels anxiety. Acting with courage in the face of fear reinforces that you are capable of great things. Sometimes we have to act our way into thinking or feeling a certain way.
Consistency is key. Keep approaching whatever is feared. Don't let the anxiety get tangled up with all the negative subjective interpretations. It may require a daily practice of writing down the anxious thoughts and reminding oneself of what is objective vs. subjective.
Try to maintain a posture of hope and optimism. Believe that things can get better if you work at it and create new habits. Be realistic with yourself about the anxiety coming back. At the same time, expect to improve your coping skills and perseverance.
Young Adult Anxiety Treatment With a Young Adult Therapist
Anxiety can show in various ways such as:
No matter how anxiety presents itself in your or your young adult's life, our young adult counselors can help.
Katy Teen & Family Counseling: 50+ Years of Combined Experience in Young Adult Counseling Katy, Texas & Houston
At the Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, our young adult counselors can help young adults overcome anxiety, panic attacks, social anxiety, school anxiety, depression, ADHD/ADD and other emotional or behavioral struggles.
Life can be busy for a young adult. Starting young adult counseling can help you improve or overcome the challenges and obstacles that stand in your way of happiness and success.
If you are ready to start your healing journey with one of our teen therapists, you can follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Meet with one of our experienced young adult counselors
Take that first step in your young adult therapy journey
Other Teen Therapy, Family Counseling, & Young Adult Therapy Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
We also provide other counseling and therapeutic services for teens, young adults, & families at our Katy, Tx location:
Board Certified Neurofeedback
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
About the Author
Quique Autrey is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Quique specializes in young adult counseling and helping young adults build upon their innate strengths while developing skills and tools to overcome depression, anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD, and more.
Quique views each individual through that lens and provides therapy for the family system which includes: teen therapy, young adult counseling, family counseling, marriage counseling & couples therapy.
Quique also has a passion for helping teens, young adults, and adults who may be on the Autism Spectrum. He has a talent for connecting with and helping people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
If you're ready to start your healing journey in teen therapy, you can call us at 346-202-4662 or email us at email@example.com.