Anxiety is a normal emotion. We all feel it at times, and that’s not a bad thing. Anxiety CAN serve us well if and when it comes about to warn us of impending danger, but actual danger, not the relatively inconsequential things we usually get ourselves all worked up about.
Anxiety is a big issue in our culture, bigger than ever. But I’m not going to go in to philosophizing as to why it’s become such a problem. We’ll save that for another day.
Regardless of the reason for our anxious feelings, one thing is clear, it’s not pleasant and NONE of us want to be feeling it more often than absolutely necessary.
There is so much advice out there about what to do when this uncomfortable emotion rears its head – and I’ve recently come across 5 little tidbits that may actually be making you feel worse. Not better.
Avoiding it at all cost:
Yes, sometimes we need to shove our emotions aside and hunker down to get done whatever it is that needs doing. But ONLY sometimes. But the other times when we turn to food, drugs, alcohol, or on-line shopping in order avoid anything that feels unpleasant it’s because we’ve convinced ourselves we mustn’t feel anything but roses and sunshine.
But feelings are feelings, and they come and they go.
“And as lovely as it is to welcome the good ones, we also need to learn to sit in and be with the uncomfortable ones.”
To get comfortable with being uncomfortable, if you will.
To say, “Okay anxiety. Here you are, I don’t like the way you feel, but I’m not going to go and down a bottle of wine and hope you go away. I’m just going to say hey, and let you do your thing for a little bit here. Whatever. You’ll be gone soon enough. And probably a lot faster if I don’t try and run away from you. We all know how well THAT’S been working.
Worrying About it:
For those who have ever felt intense anxiety or had a panic attack you know how awful, horrible, and terrible it feels. It’s a feeling you wouldn’t wish on anyone.
But here’s the clincher: yes, feeling anxiety or panic sucks. Sucks. Sucks. And because of how much it sucks, even when we’re feeling pretty decent, there’s this feeling of worry about the next time we’re going to get anxious or panicked. So we worry about worrying.
Doing this not only does nothing to prevent anxiety from popping by again to rear its ugly head, but it also robs us from enjoying the moment of non-panic we are presently in.
So enjoy when you’re not feeling anxious or panicked. It may come back, or it may not. But know that you are a lot tougher than you think, and you will be able to handle it next time it shows up. You’ve gotten through it before and you will again.
Manipulating Your Life in an Attempt to Never Feel it:
Hate trying something you might not be amazing at the first time? Worried about putting yourself out there and failing? Does the thought of going to a social gathering where you only know a few people (or no one at all) make you want to be sick?
Well okay. Fair enough. I’m not here to tell what you do or do not have the right to feel. But what I will say is this: if we never put ourselves in situations that may feel a little uncomfortable (and to get better at this, refer back to number 1) then we are going to miss out on so many good, great, and even incredible things in life.
Let anxiety be a part of it if that’s what it needs to do, but don’t let it dictate your life, or prevent you from living it – and when it tries to convince you of what’s actually good for you, don’t believe it. Most of the time it’s lying.
Beating Yourself Up Just for Feeling it:
What would you say to a good friend who came to you and said they were feeling really worried or nervous about an upcoming presentation at work, or a networking event, or social gathering, or visit to the dentist? Would you tell them they were weak, pathetic, crazy, stupid, incompetent, a failure, or a plain old hot mess?
But then why the heck would you say those things to yourself? If we could only learn to be half as kind, compassionate and understanding with ourselves as we are our loved ones… Can you imagine how good you’d feel? You’d be killing it left right and centre. Killing it.
Beating ourselves up for feeling what we’re feeling not only does nothing about alleviating our anxiety, it just adds a lovely dose of shame on top of it all.
Thinking We Need to Get it All Done:
“I just need to cross all 187 things off my to-do list and then I won’t feel anxious anymore.” Oh, if only life worked this way. But you and I both know, as soon as all 187 are crossed of, there will be another 232 more on another list you started while working through the first 187.
I hate to say this, and you may hate me more for saying it, but IT’S NEVER GOING TO ALL GET DONE.
I do not, however, condone becoming a hermit who lives in the forest and does nothing all day and all night and in between.
But what I am saying is to take each day in stride. Identify what’s really important to you and spend your time on those things. And put the rest aside for a rainy day. Or for never.
Take the unnecessary stuff off your list and then give yourself permission to be human. A human who takes time for themselves and their loved ones.
And sometimes just sit. and breathe. and live.