Understanding Anxiety

The most common feeling clients see me about is anxiety. Especially these days. Whew! Anxiety certainly factors into my life as well. Looking back, at times, I didn’t handle it very well.

I’ve gotten so much better at dealing with this common emotion. I learned valuable tools over the years to help me mentally deal with life’s stressors. I’m glad I did because it’s been a game-changer. It has kept me from feeling so overwhelmed that I felt paralyzed. To say I’ve overcome it entirely wouldn’t be truthful. It’s a typical human emotion that will always be there for me and anyone else. Why? Because we’re alive. I figured if anxiety will be a part of my life, I better learn how to manage it.

First, it’s probably best to describe what anxiety is. According to Webster’s Dictionary, anxiety is the “apprehensive, uneasiness, fear, or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill.” In other words, anxiety comes from worrying about an upcoming situation. How many times have you drifted into the future and imagined a worst-case scenario? Probably, too many. Most people think like I used to. We don’t imagine acing the interview for the dream job, taking the SATs would be the easiest test ever, or asking our crush out will result in a yes.

I realized anxiety just wants to prevent us from feeling negative emotions like failure, embarrassment, rejection and humiliation the best that it can. One reason anxiety appears is it wants us to start a plan – a plan of action. If we’re taking a long trip to a place we’ve never been, doing some advanced research and checking the air the tires is a good start in making sure we get there safely and on time. Studying for the final exam a few days in advance will go a long way in reducing test anxiety.

The common response to anxiety is that people automatically think if they’re anxious, something is wrong with them. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Anxiety is actually a good emotion to have. If we’re worried about a pending event, the anxiety in our bodies is trying to tell us something. As I said before, it has a definite purpose to keep us safe or get us prepared. Worth mentioning here is that we won’t ace every test and not everyone is going to like us no matter how much we plan and prepare. Part of my process was learning that difficult but real fact. Through that evolution, I realized painful emotions like failure, embarrassment, rejection and even humiliation wouldn’t hurt me unless I allowed them to.

I was shown how to feel my feelings instead of doing unhealthy things like being afraid of, ignoring or blunting them.

At life’s core, there can’t be success and pleasure without failure and rejection. A humble lesson indeed. Oddly enough, the feelings I tried to avoid at all costs too often prevented me from trying in life.

Having anxiety is what got you this far already. The skill of getting anxiety to work for you rather than against you is what I help people with.

Ready to talk to someone? We’re here to listen. Let’s set up a time to chat.