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Young Adult Anxiety: What is in Our Control?

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The ancient Stoic philosopher Epictetus starts his manual for the practical training of the mind with the following statement:

Some things are “up to us”, or under our direct control, whereas others are not up to us.

Contemporary psychotherapist Donald Robertson states that anxiety is focusing too much on the things that are out of our control and not enough on the things that are in our control.

Some things are out of our direct control. What people think about us is not in our control. Yet many young adults spend a lot of time fretting about what others think about them. In fact, much of young adult social anxiety and panic attacks are an over focus on other people’s thoughts.

Other things are in our control, at least to some degree. While young adults may not be able to control what people think about them, they can control their interpretations about other people. Epictetus said that what bothers us is not what happens to us but how we interpret what happens to us.

A young adult is strolling through the mall and starts to experience anxiety. He worries that people are judging his sense of style. He’s afraid that people are going to think he’s a loser. His anxiety gets the best of him and he starts snowballing to a dark place.

What is out of this man‘s control are the actual thoughts of others. He may never know what these people are thinking. What he can control are his interpretations. Instead of assuming that others are thinking judgmental thoughts, he can accept that people are likely not thinking much about him at all.

What Is In Your Control? What Is Not?

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I encourage my young adult clients to start their day by asking, “What is in my control and what is not?” Some young adults keep a journal with two columns. One side is labeled “In My Control” The other side is labeled “Out of My Control”.

This is an important practice because anxiety is focusing too much on the things that are out of our control and not enough on the things that are in our control.

By clarifying what is in their control and what is not, young adults can focus on putting energy into the little things that help lessen anxiety and accepting the larger realities that are out of their control.

Young adults can accept the things that are out of their control by meditating, praying or consciously choosing to postpone their worry. Countless people have benefited from the Serenity Prayer. This is a short mantra that helps one accept the things that are out of one’s control.

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Young adults can invest energy into what is in their control in many ways. Young adults with social anxiety benefit from keeping a thought record log. This is a strategy from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that helps young adults track their anxious thoughts. After recognizing a pattern, young adults can choose to reframe their negative thoughts in a more realistic light.

Young adults can manage their anxiety by consciously breathing. Conscious breathing entails breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.

The person breathes in for four seconds, holds it in for another four seconds and then exhales for four seconds. This process of conscious breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system which helps down regulate, or calm our nervous system. Conscious breathing can help calm the body and tame wild thoughts.

Start Young Adult Therapy at Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Katy, Tx & Houston

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There are a myriad of challenges our young adults face in today's world. Depression, anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks and other struggles are affecting more young adults today at much higher rates. There are caring young adult counselors who have helped other young adults who are facing obstacles in their path to happiness and success. Katy Teen & Family Counseling serves the Katy, Houston, and surrounding areas. We are conveniently located just off of I-10 and 99. To start your young adult counseling journey, you can follow these simple steps: 1. Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling 2. Speak with one of our caring, young adult therapists 3. Start the investment into your teen's future. Help them overcome teen anxiety and realize their full potential!

Other Therapy Services Provided by Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Katy, Tx & Houston

At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we want to help your young adult become the best version of themselves that they can be. The strengths, talents, and gifts are already there. Sometimes, it's just clearing the path of obstacles that are hindering their ability to manifest those gifts.

In addition to young adult counseling, we provide other therapeutic and counseling services:​

About the Author

Man in dress shirt and tan sports coat smiling. He is a counselor for young adults katy, tx and a young adult counselor katy, tx 77494. He is also a young adult therapist katy, tx providing therapy for young adults katy, tx 77494.

Quique Autrey is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). He is a seasoned young adult therapist who has helped many overcome their struggles.

He also is a family systems therapist. He 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 has helped those who experienced depression, anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD/ADD, and is trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

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, you can call us at 346-202-4662 or email us at:

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