Serving Multiple Masters In Anxiety Recovery

In recovery we are sometimes dealing with more than one issue beyond just your panic, agoraphobia, health anxiety, or OCD. Maybe there is another phobia or phobias involved.  Maybe you are dealing with tendencies toward perfectionism, people pleasing, or trying to control everything.  Humans are complex.  We have lots of facets!  What happens when these other issues conflict with our recovery work.  What happens when we try to serve multiple masters in recovery?

Josh Fletcher (School of Anxiety) and Kimberley Quinlan (Your Anxiety Toolkit) joined me today to talk about this. It’s worth a listen.


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The Highlights

  • Sometimes the mechanics of recovery from your anxiety disorder are not the only issues you are faced with.  Since humans are complex and varied, there can be more than one issue at place at the same time.  This is not a disaster.  It’s actually quite common!
  • These other issues can sometimes be in direct conflict with the work you’re doing in recovery.
  • For example, a person that has emetophobia (fear of vomiting) may want to overcome their agoraphobia while also trying to keep the emetophobia off-limits and untouchable.  This can be a very difficult place to be in, especially if nausea or fear of vomiting is part of being anxious for that person.  Its hard to recover and also insist that one must remain emetophobic.
  • Simple phobias often can come into the picture.  Fear of flying is a common simple phobia that often exists alongside disordered anxiety.
  • Personality traits and tendencies like perfectionism, people pleasing, a need to control things, and a need to know and predict everything at all times can be powerful motivators that sometimes directly conflict with the work of recovery. It’s hard to accept anxiety and navigate through anxious feelings while also protecting and preserving some of the tendencies that create those feelings.
  • When other issues like these stand in the way of our recovery efforts, we can wind up frustrated and wondering why we can’t make consistent or lasting progress.
  • That’s when it might be time to think about addressing some of those other issues.  This is going to vary from person to person though.  Some can work multiple issues at once.  Others are best served by prioritizing and sequencing things.  There is no right or wrong there.
  • Often, this can be a matter of competing values.  That happens all the time in life.  We can value more than one thing at once, but those values can be at odds with one another in a practical sense. When this happens it might be best to recognize that we must choose one over the other … FOR NOW. Not forever, but when we want more than one thing and those things cannot really coexist or be nurtured simultaneously, there are choices to be made.
  • Remember that competing issues can butt heads and hinder our recovery progress, but even when that happens it’s not fair to interpret that as something you are doing wrong or mistakes you are making.  We all have multiple issues in life from time to time.  You’re not more broken or hopeless just because you might have to navigate through more complex scenarios from time to time. You can see get better.  Be careful about falling into the trap of judging yourself or treating yourself harshly.  That’s never required and never helpful.

Find Kimberley Online


CBT School

Kim’s Podcast

Find Josh Online


Josh’s Website

Josh’s Podcast


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Intro/Outro Music: "Afterglow" by Ben Drake (With Permission)


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Founder and host of The Anxious Truth Podcast. Former anxiety disorder sufferer. Now fully recovered and dedicated to providing no-nonsense, straight-forward, actionable advice on how to overcome anxiety problems.