Within Dr. Glasser’s Choice Theory, anxiety is most definitely a total behavior. This means that there are components of actions, cognitions, feelings and physiology occurring simultaneously. The action may be pacing and wringing of the hands. The thoughts might be “If I do this, something terrible is going to happen.” The feeling is fear and the physiology is likely increased cortisol and adrenaline.
In Choice Theory, we know we do not have direct control over our feeling and our physiology so the way Glasser recommends changing those components is by making adjustments to the acting and thinking components of total behavior. This is not to say medication wouldn’t also be effective. Taking medicine is an action that acts on one’s physiology. This can improve the total behavior but may not get at the root cause of the anxiety so the client may feel better but not really tackle what created the anxiety in the first place.
According to Dr. Glasser, most behavior is chosen. What he means by the word “chosen” is that people generate their own responses to life’s situations from within. They spend time, sometimes consciously, sometimes not, going through the options they have for behaving in their best attempt to get what they want. Therefore anxiety is a total behavior generated from within as a person’s best attempt to get something he or she wants in the situation. Behavior isn’t always effective but at the time, it is the person’s best attempt. The flip side of the “chosen” part is that once a person accepts they are choosing the anxious behavior, then it becomes easier to choose something different if they want to. This is the goal of the therapy.
General symptoms of anxiety include some of the following. Symptoms can also vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder:
- Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness.
- Problems sleeping.
- Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet.
- Shortness of breath.
- Heart palpitations.
- An inability to be still and calm.
- Dry mouth.
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet.